Rome (Italy). The International Conference “Religions and Sustainable Development Goals: listen to the cry of the earth and the poor” promoted by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development Service was held from 7 to 9 March 2019 at the new Synod Hall in the Vatican. and by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
The event, which brought together around 450 participants, including Sr. Julia Arciniegas, FMA, was organized to promote dialogue between experts from different religions and international institutions, guiding them to assess the situation with respect to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and of the Sustainable Development Goals, and to appreciate the contribution that Religions can make to the implementation of the Goals. They were approved by over 190 nations in September 2015, as a great step forward for global dialogue, in the sign of a necessary “new universal solidarity” (Enc. Laudato sì, 14).
“The cardinal principle of all religions is love for our fellow men and care for creation,” said Pope Francis during the audience granted to the participants in the Clementine hall, noting that “talking about human development means referring to all people – not just a few – and the entire human person – not just the material dimension […]. Therefore, what I hope can emerge in this Conference, are concrete answers to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Concrete commitments to promote real development in a sustainable way, through processes open to people’s participation “.
The participants proposed specific contributions for a deeper understanding of the 17 objectives and the 169 targets associated with them, emphasizing the interconnections between all and the five “P”. After a general overview, the first session focused on People and the Planet, the second on Prosperity and Peace, while the third focused on Partnership. Each session had several presentations on development topics followed by answers from a religious perspective.
On the last day the practices on the link between the Sustainable Development Goals and Religions were introduced. In the final session, the UN Director-General in Geneva called on participants and their communities and institutions to contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.
An interesting moment of the Conference was the cultural event that took place on the evening of the first day in Paul VI Hall, entitled “Music and art for the integral development of the person”. Internationally renowned artists in the field of music performed on stage, coming from different parts of the world and belonging to different religions.