Participants at the PaRD conference 2022 in Bali, Indonesia. All photos credit: PaRD/GIZ
ISKCON India’s Director of Communications Yudhistir Govinda Das spoke at the recently concluded annual conference of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD), a Germany-based organization whose members include 123 Faith-based Organizations (FBOs) and 15 government and multilateral entities, in Bali, Indonesia.
The four-day conference organized on the sidelines of the G20 Summit saw the participation of government officials, faith leaders, academicians, and civil society leaders from more than 30 countries who came together to discuss practical measures in advancing sustainable development through the participation of religious actors.
“As per several surveys, nearly 70% of the population identifies themselves through a religious identity. Governments and policymakers around the world are now waking up to the fact that Faith-based organizations and religious leaders play a major role in the process of development. This is why agencies like United Nations are more actively engaging with faith communities to find solutions that are realistic and practical.” said Yudhistir Govinda Das, who is also a Fellow of KAICIID, a multilateral institution based in Lisbon which works for promoting dialogue among religious communities.
Speaking in a 90-minute panel discussion on the topic of ‘Role of Religious communities in responding to Natural Disasters’, Yudhistir Govinda Das shared the challenges faced, the importance of collaborating with FBOs during such events, and stressed the need for members of religious groups to promote and practice a simpler and self-satisfied life, the absence of which leads to various social and ecological challenges.
He highlighted the work of ISKCON’s members and volunteers who have served as first responders during various natural and man-made calamities by providing food relief, medical aid, and counseling to the victims.
“While some members knew the work of ISKCON in the areas of spirituality and culture, exchanges like these highlight the important contributions of ISKCON be it for disaster relief, environmental preservation, providing rural literacy and employment opportunities. These are the main pillars of a sustainable model at the heart of which is the spiritual teachings,” added Yudhistir Govinda Das.
Notable speakers included Ministers and senior government officials from Denmark, Indonesia, Italy, Germany, USA along with officials from various UN and multilateral agencies. The addition of major civil society groups made the conference a success as per the feedback of the participants.
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