USPG’s Emma Bridger reports on how faiths communities are uniting to see the UK take more seriously its commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals…
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an opportunity for us to rethink what we understand by development – and an opportunity to encourage a multi-faith response to global needs.
Launched in 2015 as a replacement for the Millennium Development Goals, the 17 SDGs provide every country in the world with a set of developmental goals.
For the UK, this means we are challenged to do more than committing 0.7 per cent of our GDP to overseas aid, as we have done previously.
Indeed, the SDGs pose some difficult questions. For example, is the UK really a ‘developed’ country if the air pollution we produce is helping to kill people and the planet? And can we call ourselves developed when our achievements can only be sustained through the exploitation of others?
The UK government – alongside other ‘developed’ nations – needs to seriously reconsider our impact on the world.
To this end, all UK citizens have a part to play in making their voices heard – not least the faith communities.
A central tenant of Christianity and other faiths is a concern to tackle poverty, improve access to health services and education, and campaign for gender equality. And, as such, it could be argued that the faith communities have always been engaged to some extent in the work required to meet the SDGs.
USPG wants to ensure that faith organisations and communities are at the heart of the UK debate around the SDGs.
We see this endeavour as particularly valuable in a post-Brexit atmosphere of distrust and even animosity between various sectors of society.
We have teamed up with our peers in other faith organisations. A working group has involved USPG, Islamic Relief, Religions for Peace, Global One, the United Reformed Church and the Leicester Sikh Alliance – and many more organisations have pledged their support.
Our aim is to show the government and citizens of the UK that every faith has theologies that can motivate people to make the lifestyle and behavioural changes necessary to achieve the SDGs.
And where these theologies are different, a consolidated UK interfaith response to the SDGs can bring the faith communities together as we become united in the pursuit of these common goals.
One of our immediate tasks is to compose a joint letter to the UK government to make clear the shared concern and determination of the faith communities that we redouble our efforts as a nation to support a fairer and more just world.