“Social norms and practices regarding the production and consumption of food must be taken into consideration since these are influenced and shaped to some degree by religious values.” This was the premise of ACT member DanChurch Aid’s recent seminar promoting debate on how faith and food security interrelate and how faith-based organizations can engage in food justice.
DCA’s understanding is that religion informs people’s values and actions, which is why societal change processes will need to take religion into consideration. Civil Society Organizations have an obligation to promote dialogue and collaboration with religious communities.
The seminar was a gathering point for people interested in the field of international development and brought speakers with different professional backgrounds together to discuss the nexus between religion and development in the framework of the UN’s second Sustainable Development Goal, “Zero Hunger”.
Mvuselelo Huni, Manager at Organization of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), contributed with a Zimbabwean perspective: “To understand the community you need to know how much religion is tied together with traditional practices and the great respect for nature. Working with the rural community you need to incorporate this focus”. She further elaborated that in terms of food justice it is crucial to support local markets: “We need to produce locally to do sustainability”.
Development manager from Danish Muslim Aid, Abdul Wahid Pedersen, argued from a Muslim perspective the importance of meeting across religious boundaries and promoting interfaith collaborations in development initiatives. Manoj Kurian, the Coordinator for the WCC-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, presented the ‘Ten Commandments of Food’, which their ‘Food for Life’ campaign has produced. It illustrates the basic links between – in this case the Christian – liberation narrative and today’s fight for food justice.
The seminar accelerated a relatively new discussion on how faith and faith communities play an important role in food justice and security. The seminar also appealed to non-faith based development actors to engage with the nexus – and to consider how social norms and practices regarding the production and consumption of food are influenced and shaped by religious values.