The GNRC together with other Faith Based Organizations launched The Asia Pacific Faith-based Coalition for Sustainable Development (APFC) on 28th March 2018 as a side event during a meeting organized by the Asia – Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, to discuss ways to build sustainable and resilient societies in the region. The meeting, moderated by Mr. Norbert Hsu, Regional Leader of World Vision International was held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.
The launch was preceded by a meeting in September 2017 (28th – 29th) of five-global faith-based organizations from different faiths namely: – Arigatou International–GNRC, World Vision, ACT Alliance, Islamic Relief Worldwide and Soka Gakkai International. They agreed to form and launch the coalition whose main objective is to provide greater impetus to the voices of faith communities and effectively engage in Asia pacific regional development discourse feeding to global processes, such as the SDGs.
GNRC–Sri Lanka, coordinated by Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement has been representing Arigatou International–GNRC in all planning meetings and events. During the launch, Mr. Chamindha Rajakaruna, the Executive Director attended the launch on behalf of Arigatou International–GNRC.
Key questions that were discussed in the side event were:
- What is the role of faith in making communities resilient and socially cohesive to achieve sustainable development?
- How can Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) work together and address issues at the regional levels?
- What will be the complementary role of FBOs to achieving sustainable development agenda in the region?
- How can various Faith Based Agencies coordinate their efforts and work with UN and Civil Society Organizations in addressing the common issues instead of working in isolation?
The meeting reached several agreements including:
- Formally agreed to focus on SDGs
1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels and;
17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
- Set the date for the Annual General meeting for August 2018 in Tokyo, Japan
- Mobilize funding by looking out for regional level opportunities and working with partners
- Areas of work for the coalition would be discussed during the annual meeting whilst coming up with some tangible indicators to measure our impact as coalition
- Identify 2-3 countries where all organizations are present, as possible startup areas for national level initiatives
Expanding the Coalition
The meeting agreed to postpone efforts towards expansion until all guidelines and policies are in place. Members however were encouraged to continue to keep a list of organizations that are potential members or those who may have added value to the coalition, observe and find out these organizations’ contributions to SDGs. There was recognition of the lack of Roman Catholic and Hindu representation in the Coalition.