UNEP Faith for Earth Initiative
Mobilizing partnerships is an important means for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This can only be achieved by engaging and partnering with stakeholders from all walks of life building on cultural diversity as a fourth dimension of sustainable development.  For more than 80% of the people living on earth spiritual values have been driving their behaviours and are main pillars not only for cultural values, but also for social inclusion, political engagement, and economic prosperity.  Because traditional stakeholder’s engagement strategies have sometimes shown limited effectiveness, therefore, new, creative, inspiring and innovative actions bringing like-minded networks around a common goal are required. In this context, UN Environment has launched a corporate strategy to engage with faith-based organizations and the Faith for Earth Initiative was founded. Our mission is "to encourage, empower and engage with faith-based organizations as partners, at all levels, toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and fulfilling the 2030 Agenda" and our vision is to have "a world where everything is in balance". The strategy is focusing on three overarching goals of empowering leadership, mobilizing faith-based investments and providing the faith-science evidence. These goals will be supported by a system of knowledge management encouraging south-south cooperation and empowering its own staff.  

Purpose

1.Inspire and empower faith-based leaders and organizations for a sustainable impact

Religious leaders play an important role either in governing community’s affairs, or in providing socio-economic and cultural services to the needy. Religious and spiritual leaders have an enormous powerful impact on local communities as their statements touch on the beliefs of their followers often extracting examples from sacred books.

Our aim is to engage faith leaders and their institutions to tackle issues we mutually prioritize.

2. Greening faith-based assets and investments

Religious institutions hold enormous financial assets to build schools, hospitals, and infrastructure as well as distribute cash to support the poorest and most marginalized. Religious organizations are arguably the fourth largest group of investors in the world (Faith to Faith Consistent Investing: Religious Institutions and their Investment Practices, 2010). These financial assets are mainly contributed by charity donors; however, faith-based organizations do own investment corporations, holdings, pension funds, private sector businesses as well as land and real estates. Innovative financing mechanisms are required in order to meet the SDGs, which can be extended to include faith based finance and scaled up to contribute towards a sustainable future. We do so in partnership with UNEP Finance Initiative another initiative of UNEP that has launched

Our aim is to see more faith based investments and assets integrating environmental considerations and investing in greener and more environmentally sustainable investments.

3. Making knowledge and the scientific evidence available for more powerful spiritual messages

Almost all faiths have been linking scientific discoveries to the religious scripts proving that God has created all things in balance. Faith-based leaders have been using such scientific findings in their teachings to reach the hearts and minds of their followers. While climate change has seen much of the global debates and scientists have been providing much knowledge and evidence, other environmental challenges such as biodiversity loss, desertification, and sand and dust severe storms have not had the privilege of reaching out to the attention of religious leaders nor have connections by the scientists been made.

Our aim is to create a broader mass of faith based institutions that have the relevant scientific information available on areas where they see questions arising or a reluctance to take action. 

Iyad Abumoghli

Director, UNEP Faith for Earth Initiative

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