FBOs advocate for sustainable development during COVID-19

ACT Alliance members Christian Aid and CREAS joined other churches and ecumenical organizations from 6 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean to host a training course titled, ‘Religion and Development: Advocacy for sustainable development‘. The course aimed to support joint advocacy strategies for sustainable development in the region.

The need for a sustainable transition has become ever more relevant and urgent in the wake of COVID-19. The Social Economic Council for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has projected that impacts of the pandemic will place 35 million (M) people in the region into poverty and that the number of people living in extreme poverty will increase from 67.4M to 90M. 

“The current economic system makes people, their communities and the planet sick. When we started the formation program, we wanted to gather prophetic voices in the region who dared to announce that the current development model deepens historical inequalities. FBOs have the courage to advocate for an economy for life, not for profits,” said Marcos Lopes, Christian Aid’s Advisor for Economic Justice and Inequalities (LAC region).

The course encouraged participants to exchange perspectives and experiences of churches and FBOs in the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda. As a result of the travel restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the final session of the course was hosted virtually. It included expert inputs from ACT Alliance, Paz y Esperanza, the Interreligious Alliance for the 2030 Agenda and Caritas Internationalis (LAC region). Horacio Mesones, Head of Training at CREAS reflected on the session, “through this dialogue we were able to gather the experiences of ACT forums in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua and Honduras as well as other churches, ecumenical and inter-religious platforms working on sustainable development. We identified the contributions of churches and FBOs to the 2030 Agenda and noted various prophetic advocacy strategies on sustainable development.”

The course provided a space for FBO’s to continue to strengthen their engagement in various national and regional processes. Jhon Martínez and Elena López of CREAS’ Religion and Development team noted the commitment of their organization to promote more spaces for the ecumenical family to engage, for example, the ecumenical initiative of Awakening the Giant in Colombia.

“Based on the experiences and contributions of each one of the participants and their organizations, we have managed to build a much stronger and more capable collective voice to advocate so that the Sustainable Development Agenda is not an empty agreement, but a tool for building an economy for life,” concluded Lopes.

The group intends to continue to strengthen their contributions to sustainable development and identified the following next steps;

1) To further engage with the various structures of ACT Alliance (including, Forums, Communities of Practice and Reference Groups);
2) To begin mapping and developing roadmaps to facilitate advanced advocacy strategies in each country;
3) To strengthen the network as a space for exchange;
4) To develop a publication that reflects the experiences and capacities of the participants.

Written by: Laura Chacón, CREAS