Voices of Faith Speaking Out Against Poverty is an Interfaith Initiative at the United Nations Post 2015 Sustainable Development Working Group. This Working Group and the associated Religious Non Government Organsiations seek to create a path towards a world without poverty.
In 2000, world leaders promised to halve extreme poverty by 2015 in a global plan called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Thanks in part to the robust participation of faith-based organisations, along with many other persons and organisations working together in one massive global effort to fulfil the MDGs, we have made real progress. The number of people living in poverty has fallen to less than half of its 1990 level. Over two billion people gained access to better drinking water. The share of slum dwellers living in cities fell, improving the lives of at least 100 million people!
Even with these great challenges, for the first time in history we have the resources to end extreme poverty while enabling sustainable development. As the 2015 target date for the fulfilling the MDGs approaches, a global conversation on these two topics is well underway. Termed the “post-2015 dialogue,” this conversation has already brought together thousands of government officials, civil-society organizations, business leaders, academics and grassroots activists in order to craft new goals for a global development agenda.
Despite the unprecedented openness and inclusivity of the post-2015 dialogue, visible participation of faith-based organizations in the conversation has been limited. This is unfortunate, because as major players in fulfilling the MDGs, faith-based organizations have much to contribute – they have rich grassroots experiences to share and their members and neighbors have a major stake in what happens after 2015. Even more importantly, faith-based organizations count many of those people living in poverty and the most underrepresented global citizens as their primary constituents. We need to do our part in directly enabling the voices of those who most need a strong set of new development goals – people living in poverty and the grassroots organizations who directly accompany them – to be heard. We must practice what we preach, what we teach. It’s about directly accompanying people concretely, not merely multiplying words. If we, as faith-based organizations, do not confront “the scandal of poverty,” then we are part of the problem.
People living in poverty and the grassroots organizations who accompany them, especially local faith communities, have unique gifts to share with the global community as it prepares a post-2015 development agenda. After countless consultations, reports, meetings and debates, we largely know what needs to be done and that we have the necessary resources to end extreme poverty. What we do not yet have is the political will to make it happen. In late June, during yet another formal meeting at UN headquarters in New York, a colleague from Latin America stood up, and in one simple, startling statement got everyone’s attention. He simply said, “UN – I do not want to be poor anymore.” It is such dignified, hopeful people, people living in poverty and those who directly accompany them, from whom we need to hear more in the post-2015 dialogue, for only they can build the political will to end poverty in our time while enabling sustainable development.
As members of the Policy Strategy Group for The World We Want 2015, The New York offices of Caritas Internationalis and The Lutheran World Federation at the United Nations have been working hard to keep the global conversation as open and inclusive as possible, but we need your help lifting up the voices of those living in poverty to marshal the political will to end poverty. Please mobilize your constituents living in poverty and those who directly accompany them to take part in a new effort entitled, “UN – I do not want to be poor anymore: a collection of faith-inspired voices of people living in poverty.”
Two key resources, “A Call for Faith-based Action” and “An Overview of the Post-2015 Development Agenda,” should give you all the information you need to begin answering the questions above. More Key Resources are found here