Christians are not alone in wanting a better world. In this respect, we stand alongside countless people of other faiths in wanting to see justice, freedom and well-being for all.
However, despite the strong presence of faith in the world, governments and organisations – especially in the west – have tended to ignore the positive role that faith can play in global development.
Happily, this is now changing. Increasingly, discussions around
development are including the faith element. For example, United Nations
(UN) Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark has
commented: ‘Faith-based organisations… have an important role to play in reminding us to focus on what really matters to us as human beings in search of well-being.’
And José Riera-Cézanne, of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees,
remarked that ‘faith leaders, religious institutions, communities of faith and
faith-based NGOs are carrying out critical development and humanitarian relief activities’.
It is gratifying to know that faith-based organisations – such as USPG – are being more widely recognised for the important work we are doing alongside our world church partners.
This study course attempts to make links between our faith and global development. We want to suggest that it is only in God that there is any real hope for lasting change.
Many of us hope for a better world, but we all know that change is not easy. It seems that good intentions and will power alone are not enough. This is where God comes in. The Franciscan Richard Rohr puts it like this: ‘[We] quite simply don’t have the power to obey the law or follow any ideal – such as loving others, forgiving enemies, nonviolence, or humble use of power – except in and through union with God.’
In other words, if we really want to change the world then we need to recognise that changed people can change communities, changed communities can change the world, and that the key to such change is deepening our relationship with God, because with God all things are possible.
In the year 2000, the UN challenged the governments of the world to meet
a series of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015. All
189 UN member states and numerous international organizations signed up to accept the challenge.
Despite being somewhat idealistic in nature – for example, goal number one was ‘to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger’ – much progress could be reported by the time the MDG deadline was reached.
The UN has now replaced the MDGs with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development, which comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
– and these have been categorised for simplicity under ‘Five Ps’, namely
Prosperity, People, Planet, Peace and Partnership. (See details overleaf.)
One of the aims of this course is to introduce you to these five Ps and to explore how the perspective of faith can help us – both as a church and as a world community – to meet these goals.