United front seeks to address some of the world’s biggest problems.
The Salvation Army participated in a series of meetings to discuss the role of religion and faith in addressing some of the world’s biggest problems—extreme poverty, conflict and security, governance, gender equality and women’s empowerment—with leaders from the worlds of finance, development and faith-based organizations in Washington DC and New York City.
Lt. Colonel Dean Pallant, director of the International Social Justice Commission, presented a paper outlining The Salvation Army’s experience.
The Washington DC conference on “Religion and Sustainable Development: Building Partnerships to End Extreme Poverty,” brought together the World Bank Group, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. Agency for International Development, UK Department For International Development and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities.
With policy makers, multilateral and bilateral agencies, religious leaders, development professionals from faith-based organizations and academics, the event aimed to connect frontline policy makers with religious and faith-based groups in the common cause of ending extreme poverty and promoting sustainable development. Delegates reviewed evidence and developed specific recommendations for action to strengthen effective partnerships between religious and faith-based groups and the public sector.
In his opening remarks, World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim said that every major religion shared a fundamental commitment to the poorest and most vulnerable members of society and that this provided a common platform with the international development community’s aim to end extreme poverty.
“We are the first generation in history that can say we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime,” he said. “We can’t get there without all of you. We need prophetic voices to inspire us and evidence to lead the way.”
Pallant presented a case study explaining the Army’s work.
“For some, the secularisation of the church and faith-based organizations is good news,” he told the delegation. “I believe it is very bad news particularly in parts of the world where extremists are hijacking religion for evil ends. This is not the time to leave a vacuum—it will be filled not by peace-loving secularists or evangelical atheists. In reality, the space is being filled by narrow-minded extremists who abuse faith for their own ends. It is in the interest of governments, the United Nations and the World Bank to partner with mature, responsible religious people and institutions and encourage faith-enriched practice.”
Sessions also examined the key learning in relation to health systems strengthening, Ebola and HIV, sexual- and gender-based violence, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
In his closing remarks, Martin Mauthe-Kaeter, deputy head of policy division at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, said, “It felt like a highly collaborative, jointly owned event…This has given us a chance to think differently about development—not just about financial and technical issues, but about values.”
The Salvation Army then participated for the first time in the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Faith-based Organizations and Sustainable Development in New York City.