In the preamble and paragraphs 4, 26, 48, and 72 of the United Nations’ (A/RES/70/1), “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, emphatic reiteration is made concerning “Leaving No One Behind”. The document outlines the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the commitments by member towards accomplishing the SDGs.
While the SDGs were made with little explicit regard for the role of faith communities in stewarding the delivery of the SDGs, the world will not accomplish these SDGs devoid of faith communities. This assertion anchors on different reasons as explored in this article, which is also an affirmation of the now-growing space for faith-based organizations in contributing towards the transformation of lives globally.
Numbers Don’t Lie: The old-age adage that numbers don’t lie might never be as applicable as it is in the case of transforming lives and leaving no one behind as enshrined in the SDGs. More than 8 in 10 people you meet in formal gatherings such as the UNEA and the informal ones like African community gigs follow a certain faith. Of the global population, Christians are the majority at more than two billion, Muslims stand at 1.34 billion, Hindus at 950 million and Buddhists at 200 million. Against the background of these statistics, delivering of the SDGs through engagement of faith groups guarantees the visionary promise of delivering them to at least eighty percent of the world. This translates to 5.8 billion children and adults globally, based on statistics released in 2010. Against this background, the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA), the United Church of Canada and Brahma Kumaris jointly engaged over sixty participants at a Green Room event held at the Second UNEA at the UN Headquarters in Africa located at Gigiri in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The theme of the Green Room was, “Exploring the contribution of faith communities in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals”
SDGs are a Manifestation of Faith: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development demonstrates that the World acknowledges that the goals and targets are “a supremely ambitious and transformational vision” (declaration 7). Supreme ambition and transformational vision speaks to the element of faith in accomplishing the goals and targets. It defeats faith that people and institutions mistakenly confine within the religious contexts. Yet, it is even better to approach the implementation of this faith to accomplish the SDGs from a more organised, more precise and more progressively streamlined faith boundaries that religion and faith communities offer.
Faith Groups Lose the Most without SDGs: Based on the statistics articulated earlier on in this article, it is clear that more than 80 percent of the world population will suffer the deficit of not accomplishing the SDGs. It will also mean that more than 8 of the 10 people you meet and interact with will have been left behind should the pursuit of the SDGs not include faith communities. More than 80 percent of humans inhabiting Mother Earth will lose the faith, hope, aspiration and promise of:
…a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive. We envisage a world free of fear and violence. A world with universal literacy. A world with equitable and universal access to quality education at all levels, to health care and social protection, where physical, mental and social well-being are assured. A world where we reaffirm our commitments regarding the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and where there is improved hygiene; and where food is sufficient, safe, affordable and nutritious. A world where human habitats are safe, resilient and sustainable and where there is universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy (Declaration 7, A/RES/70/1).
David N. Munene.
David is the Programs Manager at CYNESA.