By Lexi Carley
In conclusion of the Africa Regional Consultation, G20 Interfaith Forum religious leaders, policymakers and experts joined this morning to report on the focus groups that took place throughout the last month. Each focus group met and discussed ideas in preparation for the official policy recommendations that will be submitted for the G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia later this year. The four focus groups focused on hunger, the environment, debt and COVID-19 response respectively.
Katherine Marshall of the G20 Interfaith Forum welcomed participants to the meeting.
Our objective is based on the idea that the world’s religious leaders have a great deal of wisdom that is often not heard in global policy circles.
The goal of the G20 Interfaith Forum is to bring the recommendations and policies proposed in these regional meetings to the G20 meeting that will take place later this year, in order to bring religious leaders and their insightful contributions to an international policy level.
A large theme of the meeting concerned faith communities working together with local governments to reach solutions on a majority of the focus issues. Faith leaders have insight and suggestions that would be helpful to the public, and governments have the reach and power to implement change. The combination of the two could change the quality of life for many African residents.
Renier Koegelenberg presented the recommendations on hunger. Agriculture is an essential aspect of African life, and as such there should be updates to farming technology to help the people and the environment. There is also a need for proper data to be taken in order to help with national planning and providing food where it is needed.
A lot of conflicts on our continent are about scarce resources. Without peace, we have no chance of solving it. The peacemaking effort of faith communities can play a very crucial role.
Dr. Auwal Abdussalam presented the recommendations for helping the environment. The African continent deals with many environmental challenges, including soil erosion, pollution, desertification, deforestation and others. This puts a lot of pressure on the already scarce resources to provide for the people. Abdussalam recommended that a collaboration between the G20 religious leaders and already existing environmentalist groups should be made in order to spread the dialogue on these important issues and to train faith leaders to teach their congregations how they can help.
Asha Ramgobin highlighted the recommendations on debt.
Africa loses more money through illicit financial flows than it receives in aid, investment and loans combined, thereby creating and increasing inequality in Africa.
The working group’s recommendations included a need for laws to be implemented and backed by the government and the G20 to bring back recovered financial losses, a strengthened judicial system to ensure accountability, and other strategies to stop the flow of financial losses.
Adesina Olukanni presented on the final focus topic, COVID-19.
There is a lot of fear and misinformation and misconceptions [regarding COVID-19]. Find inclusive ways, find incorporation of all so that people know what is happening in the world.
Among the challenges of food, shelter and security brought by COVID-19, there is an added challenge of misinformation that can be corrected by faith-based leaders sharing the verified information with their communities.
In conclusion, Mohammad Abu-Nimer, KAICIID Senior Advisor, reminded participants:
This meeting is another step of knocking on the door of policy makers, locally, nationally, as well as internationally. The objective is to have the contribution of the voices of religious leaders in policy making.
As stated, the recommendations presented in this meeting will be brought to the G20 Summit in October and presented to international policy makers.
Lexi Carley is a Communications Assistant for the G20 Interfaith Forum Association.