Churches and church charities have a vital role to play in global development

The United Nations says people of faith are key to the success of the new Sustainable Development Goals. USPG’s Emma Bridger reports…

The United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is not achievable without the involvement of charities like USPG and other ‘faith actors’.

This was the message coming from a UN conference I attended in Bonn, Germany, last month, titled ‘Engaging Faith Organisations and Communities for Sustainable Development’.

Now, if I’m honest, this has seemed obvious to me since I saw the first draft of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Faith actors have been involved in trying to achieve these goals long before they were written down on paper. Faith actors know the communities they serve because they are part of them – they are in these communities before, during and after any storm might strike – they bring hope and share common values.

That said, I am delighted that the role of faith actors is now being more widely acknowledged.

I am also pleased that by signing up to the 2030 Agenda, industrialised countries such as the UK are agreeing to pursue development goals that go beyond simply donating money to aid organisations.

In my mind, it is monumental that industrialised nations are agreeing to adopt SDGs such as ‘Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’. This is brave because achieving this goal will require huge changes in our lifestyles.

These sorts of changes cannot be inspired by a secular rhetoric that draws on facts and figures – changes of this magnitude require that we draw upon our spirituality and faith, whatever our faith may be.

According to the faith traditions, giving up our comfortable lifestyles is not a sacrifice but an act of love for our global sisters and brothers, and an act of service that brings us closer to God.

Now, of course, as someone who works for USPG, I am biased in the importance I see in faith actors, but what was so inspiring about the conference in Germany was the acknowledgement of the UN and other global organisations that faith needs to play a key role if we are to achieve the SDGs and leave no one behind.

There is now so much hope being invested in the capacity of faith actors, and we must rise to the challenge.

So I encourage you to look at the SDG website, think about your faith and what it says about each of these goals, then challenge yourself to live out your faith in ways that show your love for God’s children everywhere.

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of Us.

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