Faith leaders and senior UN officials to discuss working together to improve lives of millions of people worldwide

Sep 1, 2015

Bristol, UK—Faith leaders from around the world and senior United Nations officials will gather in Bristol next week to discuss how to work together to implement the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aimed at lifting people out of poverty and creating a sustainable planet.

The UN Bristol meeting, entitled: Faith in the Future, takes place on September 8-9, 2015, and is co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), which is based in Bath.

The aim is to discuss how faith groups can support the SDGs, which will set the direction of development work worldwide for the next 15 years. The 17 goals will be adopted by the UN Member States during the Sustainable Development Summit on September 25 in New York and replace the Millennium Development Goals which expire at the end of 2015.

The meeting will be attended by 24 faith traditions and faith-based organisations as well as by representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank, The Nature Conservancy, WWF and the Governments of France and Germany.

The faiths are the biggest organised element of civil society and major providers of health, education and relief services worldwide. During the UN Bristol Meeting, the faiths will announce their own 10-year commitments to sustainable development, the Bristol Commitments.

Martin Palmer, Secretary General of ARC, said: “The Bristol Commitments are specific, faith-related, detailed programmes of work by faith communities from around the world, each inspired by their own values and beliefs, and will make a significant contribution to improving life for millions of people around the world. They are 10-year commitments so that the faiths can take stock of what they have achieved, and adjust them for the final five years of the SDG process.”

Martin Palmer added: "For Britain to host this historic meeting between major sectors of the UN and the major faiths of the world is very significant. The faiths are the largest and most socially active sector of civil society in virtually every country in the world, with the exception of North Korea. This is why, in the new vision for development which forms the basis of the Sustainable Development Goals to be launched in late September at the UN, working with the world’s major faiths is seen as a new priority.”

Paul Ladd, UNDP Director Post-2015 Team, said: “During the post-2015 negotiations, governments and civil society worked together towards a common agenda, so that transformational change can take place. The world’s faith communities will play an important role in the upcoming implementation of the new agenda, mobilising people around the world to support the achievement of the 17 SDGs by 2030.”

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This is an exceptional opportunity for faith groups from around the world to work alongside senior UN representatives in the shaping of the new Sustainable Development Goals. In this, our European Green Capital year, there is no better time for Bristol to host such an event which will see the development of what we trust will be a truly influential dialogue.

“Our aim is to help increase the ability of civil society to contribute to the future of global sustainable development. Together with ARC, our Lord Mayor and leaders from amongst Bristol’s diverse faith groups, I look forward to welcoming representatives from around the world to what I am sure will be a lively and constructive conversation.

“This major event follows on the international workshop and symposium at which I had the privilege of taking part in The Vatican in the presence of Pope Francis. Our invitation to speak at that event alongside 65 leading city mayors from across the world is further testament to Bristol’s growing international reputation as a sustainable city.”

The Secretary-General’s Message To Faith Representatives Meeting On Faith And Sustainable Development can be found here.

About ARC: ARC works with the world’s major faiths to help them develop environmental programmes based on their own beliefs, teachings and practices. It was founded by HRH The Prince Philip in 1995 and is based in Bath, UK.
About UNDP: UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. 

Media Contacts

Susie Weldon, ARC:

Tel: + 44 (0)1225 758 004 ; Mobile: + 44 (0)797 0466 830

Antje Watermann, UNDP:

Tel: +1 646 781 4091; Mobile: +1 646 417 2793

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