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Partnering with Local Faith Actors to Support Peaceful and Inclusive Societies

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Executive Summary

The International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) brings together governmental and intergovernmental entities with civil society organizations, such as religious and value-driven organizations, to harness the positive impact of religion and values in sustainable development and humanitarian assistance. One of PaRD’s focus areas is Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace and justice.1 PaRD’s SDG 16 workstream commissioned the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI),2 an international collaboration focused on building and communicating the evidence base on the roles of religions in sustainable development, to conduct this scoping study on partnerships with local faith actors (LFAs) for peaceful and inclusive societies.

It is increasingly recognized faith-based actors both presently and historically have played a fundamental role in fostering resilience, preventing violent conflict, and sustaining peace. They do so both through theological interpretation and dialogue as well as by providing leadership in action, both in peacebuilding and in development. At the same time, challenges remain in establishing fruitful partnerships between international actors and LFAs. Such challenges include a lack or inaccessibility of documented and disseminated evidence regarding the impact of LFAs, a lack of research synthesizing the disparate initiatives around the world, and the difficulty in navigating the diversity among LFAs. Moreover, an overall lack of trust, knowledge, and capacity on the part of secular/non-religious institutions exist, as does a lack of clear and coordinated efforts towards implementable actions to improve partnership between LFAs and international actors.

This study, therefore, seeks to distil learning about the roles played by LFAs in facilitating, leading, and advocating for peaceful and inclusive societies and to provide evidence-based recommendations to guide engagement and partnerships between LFAs and international actors (non-governmental organizations, bilateral governments, and multilateral institutions).

This scoping study includes a review of relevant literature and ten case studies of local faith actor partnerships in peace work in two regions: the Lake Chad Basin and South Asia. The case studies cover examples of partnerships between actors operating at different levels (local, national, regional, and international) of actors. The case studies were completed using interviews with fourteen people. As a supplement to these interviews, participants provided additional documentation pertinent to each case, including background reports and evaluations, which were reviewed. and documentary reviews. The case studies cover international and local partnerships that include aspects of working with factors for peace in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Myanmar, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Cameroon, as well as reference to cross-regional activities in these areas.