Many people will argue that religion and politics don’t mix. However, in our society, it is difficult to separate the two.
Our culture is impacted by religion. Whether it is currently being impacted by religion or our culture was built around the principles of a particular religion many many years ago, we are often governed by these ideals and values, sometimes without even realising it ourselves.
Culture then has an impact on the Global Goals. Some countries already have many freedoms for women as outlined in Goal 5: Gender Equality. Other countries are governed by cultural ideals that make these freedoms more difficult to achieve. Some countries are more accepting of people from diverse backgrounds; others are further behind in their achievement of Goal 10.
Therefore, it is important to understand religion has such a profound impact on the Global Goals as the Global Goals do on religion.
In Australia, many of our not-for-profit organisations have religious roots and are founded on principles of faith. These community organisations are not necessarily set up for religious purposes; however, they allow people who follow the values of those religions to carry out the work of that particular faith-based organisation.
It is important to acknowledge these religious ties as a majority of people around the world identify with some religious group. Religious organisations have an important role to play in progress towards achieving the targets set out in the agenda of the Global Goals. It was Pope Francis who addressed to the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2015, shortly before the adoption of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Since then, many religious leaders have come out in support of the Global Goals and what they offer for the future.
By working with faith-based organisations, we can leverage their position in the community to increase the number of people who are actively engaged in the achievement of the goals. The goals require a collaborative approach as outlined in Goal 17: Partnerships for the Global Goals. This requires us to work with every available organisation which is willing to make a significant commitment to one, a few of or all of the goals.
Engaging with religious organisations is also important for the achievement of Goal 4: Quality Education. Many private schools around Australia and around the world are considered denominational. That is, they are founded on religious values. This means their teaching is also founded on religious values. In order to ensure that children attending such schools receive a well-rounded education on sustainable development, human rights and environmental justice, it is imperative to create meaningful partnerships with religious groups.
In saying all of this, it does not mean that to be supportive of the Global Goals, you have to be a person of religious conviction. The fantastic thing about the goals is that they are accessible for all people from around the world. This includes those who identify with a religion and those who do not.
It has often been noted that the importance of working alongside faith-based organisations in order to achieve these goals is overlooked. This, however, can be easily rectified by starting a meaningful dialogue in 2021 about how faith-based organisations can work with other stakeholders in the space to further the achievement of the Global Goals.