World religious leaders make recommendations to G20 Summit

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By Amy Griffin

This weekend the leaders of the world’s major economies will gather in Italy for the G20 Summit.

Bologna, Italy is a city with roots tracing back to the bronze age and is known for being home to the oldest university in the world. This year, it was also home to the G20 Interfaith Forum.

Each year, the Interfaith Forum convenes in the country that will later host the G20 Summit for leaders of the world’s major economies — this year’s summit will start this weekend in Rome.

At G20 Interfaith Forum 2021, religious and political leaders as well as scholars met in September to discuss recommendations to the larger G20 Summit. They focused on global agendas, especially the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

W. Cole Durham Jr., president of the G20 Interfaith Forum Association, said the Sustainable Development Goals can “really only be achieved if there is cooperation and synergy (between the government agencies) and the religious sector.”

The Interfaith Forum contains specific working groups, which tackle issues including poverty, public health, gender equality, refugees and humanitarian aid.

The Anti-Racism Initiative is a new addition to the forum. The group is led by Audrey Kitigawa, president and founder of the International Academy for Multicultural Cooperation and Divine Mother of the Light of Awareness International Spiritual Family.

“Transformation will come about when faith leaders themselves are able to openly and honestly address the mindsets, the attitudes created through racial bias,” Kitigawa said.

The G20 Interfaith’s recommendations to the leaders focused on healing health, social, and economic fractures. They proposed worldwide action on education, inequality, racial discrimination and climate change, specifically focusing on the most vulnerable communities.

“I wish every person would be respected at least as much as we respect temples, cathedrals, mosques, shrines because human beings are sacred,” Ganoune Diop, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, said.

Despite an especially tumultuous past two years worldwide, religious leaders feel there’s reason to keep the faith. “While we may never live to see the fruits of our efforts, I have great faith and hope that we will,” Kitagawa said.

The next Interfaith Forum will follow the G20 Summit to Indonesia in 2022, where interfaith leaders will again convene to identify worldwide needs.

The keynote speeches from the 2021 forum will premiere on the G20 Interfaith YouTube channel on Saturday at 9 a.m. Mountain Time.

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