City co-sponsors UN consultation
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has published the results of a consultation on 'Religion and Development Post 2015'. The report is the result of a roundtable discussion held at the UN in New York in May, co-sponsored by City University London, George Mason University, Virginia and Digni, a Christian umbrella organisation from Norway.
The consultation convened nearly 40 participants including members of IATF-FBO (United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force for Faith-Based Organisations); representatives of major donor organisations from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States; several faith-based organisations (FBO's) including the Danish Mission Society, Digni, Islamic Relief Worldwide and World Vision; and international researchers on Gulf development, religion and governance and finance.
City's Dr Sara Silvestri had a key role in contributing to the concept preparation and organisation of the consultation, which sought to incorporate into the UN agenda a critical approach to religion.
"Religion has for a long time been either ignored or marginalised in the context of international institutions, but contemporary developments in global politics demonstrate it is high time for a serious incorporation of this issue in public and foreign policy," says Dr Silvestri. "These themes were at the heart of a collaborative project that I developed with my colleague from George Mason University this past year, initially with the support of the British Council. It was really rewarding to see that the project caught the attention of the UN, leading to this separate initiative, which was in turn co-financed by my School at City."
Participants in the consultation identified a number of issues concerning religion and development that they recommended be considered for the post-2015 development debate including:
- Governance and institution building
- Stable and peaceful societies
- Financing sustainable development
- Gender equality
- Environment and climate change
- Health and nutrition
Dr Silvestri continues, "It was a privilege to be able to join a range of UN agencies and a multitude of different partners, both secular and faith-based, in order to discover ways to engage meaningfully with religious actors and religious ideas, acknowledging mutual blind-spots, striving to collaborate to address the new development challenges of this millennium. I feel inspired for expanding my research and am already using this report as part of my teaching at City, to enable students to have a concrete sense of the relevance of what they study for the real world out there!"
Professor Andrew Jones, Dean of the School of Arts and Social Sciences says; "I'm delighted that City was able to sponsor and play such an active role in these discussions. Dr Silvestri's research in to the role of faith in society and its implications for an increasingly diverse world has never been more relevant and her involvement in this UN report is an excellent example of the real-world impact of research from City."