October 1, 2015: New York: EcoSikh joined a gathering of faith leaders and religious organizations from around the world in New York to find ways to realize the UN’s declared sustainable development goals and the end of extreme poverty.
The gathering focused on a joint statement titled Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative – launched in April and signed by 39 leaders from major world religions and heads of global faith-based organizations. These organizations were as diverse as the WCC, [the Anglican Alliance], ACT Alliance, American Jewish World Service, Baha’i International Community, EcoSikh, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Religions for Peace and World Vision International. EcoSikh board member, Suneet Singh Tuli, had joined the World Bank president in signing the Moral Imperative in Washington in April.
The joint statement indicates the need to “act, advocate, educate and collaborate [in order to] empower and uplift those living in poverty, so that they can become agents of their own transformation.”
This gathering held at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City, was co-sponsored by the WCC, the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion Development and the World Bank. It strengthened collaboration between faith-based organizations, governments, the UN and the World Bank Group.
At the meeting, the Faith-based Action Framework to End Extreme Poverty was introduced to an audience of more than eighty representatives of faith-based organizations. Representatives at the meeting included Thomas Gass, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs; Mahmoud Mohieldin, Corporate Secretary and President’s Special Envoy, World Bank Group; Luiz Loures, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS; David Donoghue, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations; Azza Karam, senior advisor, Culture, United Nations Population Fund and coordinator, UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development; and Adam Taylor, lead, Faith Initiative, World Bank Group.
Faith communities in attendance included Global ONE, Society of Jesus, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Baha’i International Community, EcoSikh, World Vision, Organization of African Instituted Churches, International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV or AIDS (INERELA+), Church World Service, American Jewish World Service, Christian Aid, ACT Alliance, World Council of Churches, Caritas Internationalis, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, World Evangelical Alliance and Religions for Peace International.
Dr Evelyn Parker, member of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) welcomed participants of the meeting, and emphasized the importance of coming together as faith leaders to address issues of extreme poverty and its root causes.
Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, WCC representative to the UN, celebrated the affirmation of the Action Framework to End Extreme Poverty: “It is an inspirational document, which allows religious leaders and faith-based organizations to come together at regional and national levels to work collaboratively on concrete actions to address issues of extreme poverty and inequalities. It is an opportunity to engage faith communities in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.”
EcoSikh President, Dr. Rajwant Singh, said “As faith communities, it is our moral duty to care for the downtrodden amongst us. Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, emphasized that God’s presence can only be felt while serving the poor and remaining in the company of those in need. Guru Nanak also implored all to give a deserving role to women in society to end social injustice and suffering. UN’s goals reiterate what the Guru taught 500 years ago and Sikhs are committed to play their role in this collective goal of all nations to end poverty.”
EcoSikh representatives had joined UN sponsored meeting of faiths in Bristol which shaped the discussions in New York.