Faith-based actors play a crucial role in human and sustainable development. The respect and public trust earned over several decades of engagement with governments, local communities and other key actors has exceptionally placed and equipped religious communities and faith-based actors to play a critical role in promoting the inclusion of different groups, offering peaceful channels for conflict resolution, upholding the human rights of the most vulnerable, among others.
The United Nations recognizes and appreciates the critical role of religious communities and faith-based development and humanitarian organizations in sustainable development. In 2010, the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Engaging with Faith-Based Actors for Sustainable Development (UN Task Force on Religion and Development ) was formed under the aegis of the U.N. Development Group (UNDG) to provide guidance to UN’s engagement with faith-based actors in human rights, sustainable development and peace and security issues.
In September 2018, the Task Force, co-led by 5 UN system entities, together with over fifty faith-based partners convened and launched its first Multi-Faith Advisory Council to advise the UN system entities on engaging with religious actors to realize Agenda 2030 and seek to endorse the UN’s multilateral support for all human rights.
As their first joint initiative, the Council Members launched the Annual UNGA Kofi Annan Faith Briefings. These Briefings convene the UN system’s faith-based and faith-inspired partners on a yearly basis to brief the UN system and Member States on progress on Agenda 2030, as well as key concerns and areas of work of religious actors linked to the UN’s mandates around human rights, peace and security and sustainable development.
Since its inception, the UN Task Force on Religion and Development has been instrumental in bringing faith-based actors into the consultation process of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as their local implementation. It supports joint activities across UN agencies, as well as reporting on what different UN agencies are doing with formal faith-based organizations linked to the UN system as well as local faith-based actors in different countries.
A central commitment of the SDGs is to “Leave no one behind’ and to endeavour to ‘reach the furthest behind first’. This means that the 17 Goals and their targets need to be met for all segments of society. In essence, it calls for a more inclusive approach to development that ensures the voices of the poorest and most marginalized groups are heard and that their active participation as agents of change is promoted.
This commitment is consistent with Goal 11 on “making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. In addition, Goal 16 aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive