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From June 25-26, SGI participated in "The First Global Consultation of Faith Based Development Organizations on Participation in the Civil Society Partnership for Development Effectiveness." The meeting was held in Geneva and organized by ACT Alliance, a coalition of more than 130 churches and affiliated organizations working together around the world to create positive and sustainable change.
Twenty-three people representing faith-based organizations (FBOs) engaged in development work joined the meeting, including nine people from Africa and Latin America. The majority of representatives were from Christian FBOs, with two participants from an Islamic FBO from Egypt, and SGI bringing a Buddhist perspective.
The meeting explored the involvement of FBOs with the international Civil Society Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) which brings a non-governmental aspect to the Global Partnership on Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), an intergovernmental network.
At the Geneva meeting, FBO representatives shared their experiences and heard presentations from speakers including John Nduna, ACT Alliance General Secretary; Peter Lanzet of Bread for the World, Germany; Vitalice Meja from the Reality of Aid Africa; and Ilona Dorji of the Lutheran World Federation.
Participants discussed how FBOs can feed their unique perspectives into this complex global system aimed at assessing and improving development effectiveness. It was agreed that they can bring a particular focus on intangible assets such as community resilience and spirituality and join forces with those who are seeking to mainstream human rights, sustainability and education.
On June 25, SGI representative Kazunari Fujii chaired a session on Development Effectiveness Priority Areas for FBOs and civil society organizations (CSOs). Issues highlighted in the discussion included the need to deepen understanding of the specific goals of FBOs in development, and the need for CSOs themselves to be also accountable both to rights holders and donors.
The SGI and Earth Charter International's jointly produced film "A Quiet Revolution" that shows how the efforts of a single empowered individual can create waves of change, featuring case studies from the field of environmental protection in India, Slovakia and Kenya, was also screened.
On June 26, in a session aimed at identifying which development tasks and concerns should be prioritized by FBOs, Mr. Fujii also introduced SGI's approach to grassroots engagement, and the Buddhist concepts underlying SGI's activities to promote sustainable development.
Participants commented on how the Buddhist approach is unique in stressing individual empowerment.
[Adapted from reports from ACT Alliance and from the SGI Liaison Office, Geneva, Switzerland; photos courtesy of ACT Alliance]
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