Before the convening, GHR participated in the annual meeting of International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD), during which the Foundation’s partnership with the network was approved. GHR is pleased to join an organization that creates such valuable opportunities to share knowledge and learn from our peers. PaRD’s participants share many of our programmatic priorities, as demonstrated by a panel discussing the nexus of religion and countering violent extremism moderated by GHR Senior Program Advisor Andreas Hipple.
During the PaRD annual meeting, numerous bilateral and multilateral organizations gathered to discuss how to strengthen cooperation between donors and religious communities in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. Many of these organizations went on to participated in Faith Works Africa, seizing an opportunity to learn from the ongoing work of the faith leaders attending the conference.
Faith Works Africa began with an opening dinner, where Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of Nigeria delivered a keynote speech calling for more inter-religious collaboration to build peace in his country and beyond. Other presentations at the conference featured the voices of youth, women, senior religious leaders and other diverse participants. The important stories and experiences they shared inspired the breakout sessions, which were designed to seed new partnerships and fuel the creativity necessary to discern productive next steps. These idea-rich sessions will help inform future inter-religious work.
Several current GHR partners attended Faith Works Africa, including Religions for Peace, the African Council of Religious Leaders, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities, peacemakers associated with the Tanenbaum Center for Religious Understanding, Nigerian Inter-Faith Action Association, Catholic Relief Services and a number of Catholic sisters whose engagement in inter-religious collaboration is growing, especially in Nigeria. GHR also sponsored the participation of 15 Generation Change fellows associated with the United States Institute of Peace—social entrepreneurs and peacebuilders working in their home countries to build peace, counter extremism and work toward justice. For most of the fellows, Faith Works Africa was their first opportunity to engage with high-level religious leaders. Many of them were given significant speaking and facilitation roles, creating mutual benefit for the young leaders and conference participants.
We are hopeful the meetings held at Faith Works Africa will result in concrete new partnerships, and we look forward to seeing how relationships evolve in this critical field. To learn more about how GHR is working with religious leaders and communities to solve difficult problems, build trusting relationships, strengthen social cohesion and advance peace, contact us.