BANGKOK (30 MARCH 2018) - World Vision in partnership with ACT Alliance, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Soka Gakkai International, Arigatou International, and Asia Civil Society Partnership for Sustainable Development launched the Asia Pacific faith-based coalition for sustainable development during the Fifth Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development on March 28, 2018, Bangkok Thailand.
The coalition was formed to amplify and engage with the voices of faith communities in Asia Pacific, focusing contributions on achieving the SDGs, represented by different faiths towards achieving sustainable development and peace.
"Faith-based organizations are unique as they are able to represent their faith communities on issues of social justice, enabling organisations and faith leaders to come together and effect change inside and outside of their communities,” says Norbert Hsu, World Vision Regional Leader in Asia Pacific.
At the forum, representatives from different Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs) in the region tackled the importance of bringing FBOs in advancing development goals and how best to engage them at local, national and regional levels to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We have seen results of advocacy efforts at regional platforms, of joint capacity building initiatives at regional levels engaging faith leaders. Another is by developing faith-sensitive materials, collaborative regional research of how FBOs can work together, organizing some big events, faith-inspired action as well as joint position papers around critical issues like climate change,” says Masud Siddique, Head of Asia Region of Islamic Relief Worldwide.
During the panel discussion, the group emphasized that encouraging faith-based groups to tap opportunities and participate in more dialogues are valuable to share common goals. The group also challenged FBOs to prioritise the vulnerable groups and build up efforts in making communities resilient and socially cohesive to achieve sustainable development.
“Some challenges are unique to the entire region (Asia Pacific) while others are more specific to subregions, countries or communities. So as we move forward in our joint efforts, we could explore flexible approaches and arrangements based on the needs,” says, Hiro Sakurai, Director of the Office for UN Affairs, Soka Gakkai International.
John Patrick Murray, the representative from National Catholic Commission on Migration added, “At the core of our faith is social justice, social teachings, and those teachings both give us a guide and motivate us to action and they motivate faith people through faith to act in their world.”
In response to coordination and working alongside with UN and Civil Society Organizations in addressing issues, Shinji Kubo, UNHCR Representative suggested, “Dialogue is the most important tool for us. So I really believe that the FBOs should find a way to mobilize their communities to work together especially by disseminating what these SDGs are.”
Moving forward, Anselmo Lee representative from Asia Civil Society Partnership for Sustainable Development, suggested to come up with a simple policy review of why SDGs matter for people from different religions and faith. “We need to come up with a good narrative and capture stories on how different religions can work together to achieve the SDGs,” says Lee.
On March 28-30, 2018, the Fifth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, is engaging member States, United Nations bodies, other international organizations, major groups and other stakeholders in highlighting regional and sub-regional perspectives on the theme of the high-level political forum in 2018, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”.
The forum will support the presentation of voluntary national reviews and will assess the progress made with regard to the regional roadmap for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific.
The Member States, major groups, and other stakeholders and representatives of the international community will be invited to share their views and recommendations to improve implementation of the SDGs and quality of data to assess progress in Asia and the Pacific Region.
World Vision Background
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation conducting relief, development and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
World Vision is the convener of the Asia Pacific faith-based coalition for sustainable development this year.
Director Advocacy and Justice for Children, World Vision International
Sudarshan Reddy Kodooru
Director, Faith & Development, World Vision International