DSA2016: Politics in Development
This panel will seek to explore the role of religion in the conceptualisation and realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, identifying whether &how 'religious actors' do things differently to others, &how their participation will inform & shape the translation of SDGs into various contexts.
This panel will seek to explore the role of religion in the conceptualisation and realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs set out a framework for development following the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The framework outlines a set of 17 goals with 169 associated targets, intended to eradicate global poverty and achieve environmental sustainability through sustainable development efforts in areas of education, healthcare, gender, water and sanitation, climate change, innovation, inclusive growth, clean energy and protection of the planet. Agreement on the goals was reached following an extensive and inclusive process - one of the largest consultations ever conducted by the UN - that sought to engage and consult with a diverse range of civil society organisations, leaders and local communities. It is through this agenda that UN Member states are expected to frame their development plans and national policies over the next 15 years.
The outlined targets are ambitious, and will continue to require support and backing from a variety of actors, including religious leaders and communities. This panel will therefore be interested in identifying whether and how religion informs actors' perspectives and practices, and in examining whether acting from within religious structures might be different from other forms of collective action undertaken outside a religious frame. This is particularly significant where discussions on social hierarchies and informal political and governance structures might suggest that religion plays an important motivating influence in local communities in developing countries.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Serve God, Save Earth: A Muslim Spiritual Perspective to Sustainability
This paper seeks to explore the position of spirituality in the making of a meaningful sustainability, and the impact of spiritual discipline not only to materialize sustainability but to also sustain the very foundations of planning sustainability and reinforcing sustainable modes of thought and life.
Many definitions of sustainability place a central significance on the effects of the degrading and destruction of material resources on human development and the consequent need to control natural resources as a means to ensuring a sustainable future on our planet. Appropriation of increased material resources and energy has regretfully caused fatal deterioration of human life and sense of loss of direction. This only highlights how the planning of sustainability has been negatively affected as a result of a neglectful definition of man, inattention to his natural spiritual pre-dispositions, his very innate nature and potential, and generally an under-estimation of human spiritual capital in the process of building intra-generational and inter-generational sustainable equity. The argument inherent within this study is that the Islamic vision of sustainability rests essentially on spiritual awareness, discipline and engagement. This paper seeks to explore the position of spirituality in the making of a meaningful sustainability, and the impact of spiritual discipline not only to materialize sustainability but to also sustain the very foundations of planning sustainability and reinforcing sustainable modes of thought and life. This research concludes that original yet moderate spirituality adds fundamental value to the planning and implementation of sustainability while unleashing the very potential inherent in Muslim beliefs, ethics, and social and cultural capital with regards to sustainability and development in general. Further qualitative studies are required on the dynamic relationships between spirituality and sustainability.
Challenges and Opportunities facing Muslim FBOs in implementing the SDGs
In implementing the SDGs Muslim FBOs face challenges but also opportunities to achieve full rights for women, children and marginalised communities. In spite of access to influential community and religious leaders, these very leaders may act as an impediment to the achievement of some SDGs.
Muslim FBOs may have some sort of privileged access to Muslim communities but they also face challenges with entrenched cultural norms and attitudes which tend to marginalise women and certain groups such as the disabled and ethnic and religious minorities. With the fight against terrorism Muslim FBOs are facing increasing challenges in accessing funding and dealing with governments which have a negative perception of Muslim organisations. Muslim NGOs are finding that they need to respond even more rigorously to issues of due diligence and financial procedures. Due to access Muslim NGOs can play a role in opening access to support the achievement of the SDGs. However in spite of initiatives like the joint statement by diverse religious groups last year regarding the moral imperative to end extreme poverty and support the achievement of the SDGs, due to the power of the neo-liberal economic system in place in most countries Muslim NGOs will struggle to understand and deal with these issues especially the concept of sustainability, climate change and environmental degradation. Even the much touted Islamic financial system and Islamic microfinance have been remade in the neo-liberal model. Many Muslim FBOs need to better tackle advocacy and policy issues related to the anti-poor systems in place internationally and in nations and communities which may be obstacles to the achievement of the SDGs. Muslim FBOs will need to upgrade their capacity to play a role in peace and conflict resolution and non-violent resolution of conflicts.
Universal basic education in Nigeria: can religious actors make a difference?
Against the backdrop of failing government policies in the education sector in Nigeria, this paper investigates how and why non-state actors, especially religious organisations, can make significant impact towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals for Universal Basic Education.
Following a period of sustained progress between the 1950s and 1970s, when the regional and federal governments in Nigeria implemented highly successful policies of free qualitative education, the education sector went on decline in subsequent decades. This decline is partly due to the impacts of military interventions in governance, and lack of adequate public investments, and a generally outmoded policy approach to basic education. As a result of decades of decline, Nigeria was recently identified as "the country furthest away from the goal of universal primary education" (Antoninis, 2014). According to a 2012 UNESCO report, Nigeria accounts for 17% of the global out-of-school children population, despite having only 4% share of the global school age population. In recognition of this critical need in the education sector, non-state actors, including religious organisations, have stepped in as key providers of basic education in Nigeria. This study draws from semi-structured interviews of heads and proprietors of 5 state-funded schools, 7 schools owned by religious organisations and 5 privately owned schools, along with selected parents and government officials, to examine and compare the different motivations, guiding principles and overall impact of these actors in the education sector. The findings contributes to the theory and practice of basic education provision in developing countries, especially with respect to how non-state actors can complement government-led interventions to achieve the targets of universal basic education as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Engaging development with religious traditions: Methods, pitfalls and stories in the case of SDGs 12-13 and the Catholic Church
Despite policy calls to engage development theory and practice with religious traditions, there is little exploration about the how of this engagement. The paper critically discusses different strategies and methods of engagement using case studies in relation to Catholicism and climate change.
The literature on religion and development has blossomed over the last decade. Religion is no longer the neglected or forgotten dimension in both development theory and practice. Partnerships between faith communities and international institutions and governments have also multiplied. Calls for engagement between secular and religious institutions are often heard in academic and policy circles. Yet, there remains little documentation and critical analysis of how such engagement is actually taking place in the practice, on which conceptual ground it is based, and whether some strategies and methodologies of engagement are more desirable than others. The paper seeks to address this in relation to SDGs 12-13 and the Catholic Church.
After overviewing current academic and policy discourses about the engagement of development and religious traditions, the paper argues for approaching the question of engagement on the basis of two case studies, from Colombia and Ethiopia. It analyses different methods and strategies of engagement in the context of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12) and taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG 13), and the Catholic religious tradition. Borrowing from Sen's capability approach to development, the paper concludes by outlining some major components of a fruitful and effective engagement, and some implications for faith-based organisations in the UK.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.