The Role of Faith Communities in Accelerating Action and Transformative Pathways in the Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development
Tuesday, 7 July 2020
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Virtual (New York time)

Side Event

Organizer: Caritas Internationalis Co-organizer: Caritas Africa

1.0 Background

2020 is the start of the “decade of action” to accelerate implementation of the SDGs. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has upset the political, social, economic and financial structures all over the world. The pandemic has revealed inequalities, weaknesses in our social systems and the need to build back better by addressing the fragile health systems especially in the global south. This requires enhanced cooperation and integrated response to protect human beings and limit economic damages.

Diverse faith communities occupy a critical space in the Sustainable Development Agenda globally. This is informed by their constant and uninterrupted presence in local communities. They are main actors of public dialogue and societal change. They are also among the first responders during humanitarian crises and among lead contributors to long-term development. The Catholic Church through Caritas, its social-pastoral arm, has significantly contributed to social transformation through a panoply of initiatives in education, healthcare, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), food security and sustainable food production systems, peace building and conflict transformation, and supporting democratic processes and good governance. Its greatest challenge and endeavour, at present, is to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and provide long-term solutions for a just and sustainable recovery.

2.0 About Caritas

Caritas Internationalis is the Confederation of 168 Caritas organizations from the global north and south, present in 200 countries and territories. Caritas Africa is one of the 7 Regions of Caritas Internationalis bringing together 46 National Caritas Organisations. Each national Caritas collaborates in their respective countries with Diocesan Caritas at a sub-national level, which on their turn work closely with Local Caritas. Caritas Africa Member Organisations in 131 out of the 16 African countries presenting a VNR in 2020, are involved in different humanitarian, development and peace initiatives.

Caritas SDG work involves creating a civic space for engagement on development issues, influencing policy spaces at the regional, national and sub-national level and delivering SDGs in our own programmes. The Confederation has been involved in the SDGs since the post-2015 negotiations, and participated in previous High Level Political Forums. Caritas advocacy initiatives have also incorporated Research to influence government planning and monitoring of the progress of SDG implementation at the national and sub-national level. In 2019, the “Bringing Agenda 2030 to Life” participatory research project collected concrete case studies2 that demonstrated policies, projects and processes that have worked towards contributing to the transformative principles of the SDGs. The research findings are being used for engagements with Civil Society, the Caritas Network and policy makers.

3.0 Caritas Virtual Side Event on Advancing Human Well- being

Caritas is keen to leverage on gains from its participation in previous HLPFs, results from advocacy initiatives conducted by its National Members and Local Caritas organisations, and outcomes of the side event that Caritas Africa hosted at the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 6), in February 2020 at Victoria Falls Zimbabwe. The virtual side event will feed into the HLPF discussions on “building back better after COVID-19 and acting where we will have the greatest impact on SDGs”, taking into account the specific SDGs under this thematic review session (SDG 1, 3, 4, 6, 16 and 17).


1 Burundi, Comoros, DR Congo, Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles and Uganda 2 Supported by CAFOD in partnership with University College London (UCL) and National Caritas Organisations in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Zambia

The aim of the side event is to:

• Present and discuss concrete experiences showing the active role of faith communities in Sustainable Development, through partnerships with multiple stakeholders, to accelerate action and transformative pathways at the Local / Sub-National Level. • Reflect on the relevance to Sustainable Development of the key messages around integral ecology and the culture of encounter from the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si’ – on the care for our Common Home - and the linkages to human-wellbeing and SDGs. • Highlight the interlinkages in the current global challenges to address poverty and uncover synergies amongst different sectors in health, education, access to clean water and, the need for peace, justice and strong institutions.

4.0 Proposed Speakers

Moderator: Representative of the United Nations Environmental Program (UN EP) – New York. Speaker 1: Caritas Representative The role of faith communities in promoting Integral Human Development and Ecology to advance human well- being (SDG 1 No poverty and its linkages with other SDGs) Speaker 2: Representative from the academic community – Kenya COVID-19’s impact on education among rural communities in Africa (SDG 4- Quality Education) Speaker 3: Government representative- Zambia

The impact of water crisis on COVID-19 outbreak and public-health and in Sub-Saharan Africa (SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation) Speaker 4: Representative from an indigenous community -Liberia Building back better after COVID-19: facilitating access to Justice and Trauma support as part of postdisaster reconstruction (SDG 16- Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) Speaker 5: Representative from the health Sector – DR Congo Learning from the Ebola experience- Role of faith actors in controlling the pandemic and accelerating implementation of SDGs (SDG3: Good Health and Well Being) Speaker 6: Humanitarian Actor- (Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF)

Role of local civil society associations in SDG reporting through contributions to Local Voluntary National Reviews (SDG 17- Partnerships for the goals)

Conclusion and Proposals to “build back better” in Africa through an Integral Ecology approach 5.0 Target Audience

The virtual side event targets approximately 80-100 participants drawn from media, civil society, faith communities, indigenous groups, national and sub-national government representatives and the private sector

United Nations