A variety of projects and events are envisaged, which will highlight the theme of values, religion and sustainable development.
In a series of talks organised by BMZ under the heading ‘Religion Matters – Rethinking the challenges of the future’, leading religious and other figures are invited to discuss the role of values in development with policymakers and civil society actors. Previous guests have included Dharam Singh Nihang Singh, a preeminent Sikh scholar, Dr Milad Karimi, an Islamic theologian, and two religious leaders from Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama and Emir Muhammadu Muazu.
Religion matters – Rethinking the challenges of tomorrow
Religion and culture are social and political forces that shape the world view and way of life of many people. They can also provide a motive for social engagement. Development policy has to show respect for individuals and must therefore take account of their outlook on the world.
In a series of talks organised by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) together with GIZ under the heading ‘Religion Matters – Rethinking the challenges of the future’, leading religious figures and other prominent individuals come together with policymakers and civil society actors once every three months to discuss a wide range of issues.
At each event, a presentation on the theme of religion, values and development by one of the guest speakers is followed by a discussion hosted by Nazan Gökdemir (ARTE Journal and the ZDF programme Forum am Freitag) with a small group of invited guests. The results of these discussions are documented and disseminated in order to generate new momentum and ideas for further action.
Events to date:
Research meets Practice
Heaven on earth? How values and religion can contribute to sustainable development
While some violent groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army und Boko Haram commit murder and wreak widespread destruction in the name of religion, other religious organisations provide basic healthcare for half of all those living in Sub-Saharan Africa. The ambivalence that this demonstrates clearly illustrates the challenging environment in which German development policies must operate.
There is currently not enough of a focus on religion in international cooperation. 80 per cent of the world’s population identify as belonging to a religion, with religion providing a framework of reference for their actions. In light of this fact, a number of specific initial attempts to include the creative potential of religion in development policies and international cooperation have been made over the last few years.
Sociological research has long ascribed importance to the influence of religion on a country’s development. But how can theoretical knowledge about religion be applied to international cooperation in practice, and how can we use it to implement sustainable development policies? One approach to this is to promote the competence of actors in dealing with religion, and to include religious literacy in programme work in a very practical way.
Against this background, the event in the ‘Research meets Practice’ series examined the following questions: What are the challenges and risks of working with religious actors? What skills and knowledge do employees working in international cooperation need when interacting with different religions? How can we succeed in finding a common set of shared values that will contribute to sustainable development? In what specific ways can Islam contribute as we move towards sustainable development?
Taking part in the discussion were Dr Milad Karimi, Professor for Kalam, Islamic Philosophy and Mysticism at the University of Münster, and Björn Zimprich, team leader of the programme ‘Improvement of communal water efficiency through cooperation with religious authorities’, GIZ Jordan. The event in October 2015 included the opportunity for conversation and networking and was chaired by Dr Jacqueline Boysen (journalist and author).
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