Salt Lake City 2019

JLI Partner Soka Gakkai International (SGI) convened two events at the recent UN Civil Society Conference.


The Power of Faith Actors to Promote Resilient Cities & Communities

Moderated by Nobuyuki Asai, Director for Humanitarian Affairs and Sustainable Development, Office of Peace and Global Issues.



  • Vanessa Pizer, Senior International Program Officer, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), ERD partner ecare’s work in the Philippines.
  • Jason Alfonse Fileta, Vice President, Tearfund USA, Tearfund’s garbage project in Pakistan and Rubbish advocacy campaign in the UK.
  • Bruce Knotts, Director, Unitarian Universalist (UU) UN Office, UU’s humanitarian activities.


Vanessa Pizer described disaster relief and recovery using an asset-based approach in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. The development arm of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, ecare, uses a“R2G” (Receivers to Givers) model, designed to develop dignity and generate hope and empowerment.

Jason Fileta outlined Tearfund’s work supporting Haryali garbage collectors in Karachi which lessens the burning of toxic material and increases recycling, and the Rubbish advocacy campaign in the UK to push major companies to reduce the production of plastic bottles.

Bruce Knotts described UU initiatives including support to orphaned children in Ghana through the Queen Mothers, assistance for LGBT asylum seekers, and the “No More Deaths” program where volunteers leave water in the desert for people crossing the border into the USA.

The Q and A session considered what added value faith groups bring. The speakers stressed that faith groups have been involved in support to the vulnerable in societies since long before NGOs appeared, that their contributions are longer-term and linked to human qualities such as dignity and hope. Also, advocacy linked to religious beliefs outlasts other forms. Nobuyuki Asai also described the contributions of FBOs in Japan including Soka Gakkai following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Post-session action will be to continue to share lessons learnt and experiences of success through such exchanges between different faith actors and through the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities (JLI) that was a co-organizer of this workshop.


Amazon Frontline Report: Challenges and Partnerships for Sustainability in Manaus, Brazil’s Amazonas State

Joan Anderson, Senior Coordinator for Peace and Global Issues, Soka Gakkai International moderated the session


  • Tais Tiyoko Tokusato, Environmental Education Programs Coordinator at the Soka Institute for Environmental Studies and Research of the Amazon, environmental education programs and reforestation project
  • Cintia Okamura, PhD, a community participation expert from the Environmental Agency of the State of São Paulo, sustainable community projects
  • Denise Machado Duran Gutierrez, PhD, Social Technology Coordinator at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA), developing social technologies with local people

Panelists spoke of the challenges and successes of their grassroots efforts in Manaus City and gave examples of partnerships developed to help carry out the work in their communities. All the case studies presented effective partnerships which can be linked to SDG 17. Tais spoke of the Institute’s environmental education programs with the community and reforestation projects, stressing that partnerships have been the key to their success. There was a short video message by Adalberto Carim Antonio, Chief Judge of Specialized Court of Environment and Agrarian Issues of Amazonas who highlighted Soka Institute’s “Seeds of Life” reforestation project in Manaus, and the night school where environmental criminals are exposed to environmental education to positive effect. Dr. Okamura explained the process of developing a sustainable project in Aleixo Lake by bringing its residents, companies and government institutions together in partnership to find solutions. Dr. Gutierrez introduced three concrete examples of social technologies, which integrates scientific knowledge with traditional knowledge, created with local people in the Amazon region.

The Religions for Peace World Assembly 2019 met in Lindau Germany August 19th to 23rd to agree common action towards Caring for our Common Future: Advancing Shared wellbeing.

900 religious leaders, representing diverse faith communities from 120 countries, gathered to discuss key themes including: preventing and transforming violent conflicts, promoting just and harmonious societies, advancing sustainable and integral human development and protecting the earth.

The World Assembly Declaration codifies delegate’s commitments to common action including support for the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, the International Campaign to abolish Nuclear Weapons and the Peace Charter for Reconciliation and Forgiveness.

RFP Trustees, in an inspired move, elected Azza Karam of UNFPA and the UN Interagency Task Force on Faith and Development to replace Bill Vendley, longtime Secretary General and servant of peace.

The German government provided extraordinary support to the World Assembly, making it possible for faith leaders to attend from around the world. The Assembly was honored to hear a major address by German President Steinmeier affirming the important role of religions in making and keeping peace. The Assembly was called to action by other global leaders including Sheikh Bin Bayah, Patriarch Bartholemew, Rabbi David Rosen, Sheikh Mubaje, Hon. Mehrezia Labidi-Maiza, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Ela Ghandi, Dr Vinu Aram and Dr. Jeff Sachs.

Local people and churches in Lindau hosted what must have been the worlds largest pot luck supper with home cooked food for all the delegates – a great experience of warm hospitality! A great example of mobilization of faith communities!

JLI was privileged to attend a day long caucus of the RFP Women of Faith Network , with 250 women of all faith from diverse contexts with common concerns, joining forces for common action.

Together with Kerida McDonald from UNICEF, JLI led a workshop consultation with faith actors from around the world on the new Faith for Positive Change for Children global initiative for social and behavior change – see information brochure here.

JLI also partnered with Religions for Peace and others to provide a pivotal report on Guide to Action on Mobilizing Faith Communities to Welcome Migrants and Refugees.

Guide to Action on Mobilizing Faith Communities to Welcome Migrants and Refugees

Video coverage of the plenaries on RfP’s youtube page

Related news coverage:

Interfaith group pledges to use religion’s influence to address climate change, poverty

The Sixth annual G20 Interfaith Forum took place in Tokyo Japan with about 300 religious leaders, FBOs, academics and others gathered from around the world.

Katherine Marshall, World Faiths Development Dialogue and Cole Durhan, Brigham Young University under the patronage of Dr Haruhisa Handa organized the conference.

The goal of the Forum was to discuss global issues through the lens of faith. Attendees also aimed to develop recommendations from the faith community to the G20 meeting in Osaka.

This year’s themes were People, Planet Peace: Pathways Forward

Jean Duff represented JLI and made contributions to two working sessions and to the closing Plenary “Towards 2020”. At the People session on Every Child has a Right to a Childhood, JLI announced the launch of the EVAC Hub’s new three-part Scoping Report and presented recommendations for the G20 Summit. At the Peace session on “New Ways to Serve and Integrate Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Communities,” JLI presented recommendations for the G20 Summit relating to the importance of the Global Compact on Refugees and the role of local faith actors in implementing it. Also, JLI contributed to the policy briefs from the two sessions.


JLI Session Presentations

View the Presentation on Protecting and Nurturing Children in Todays Challenging World

View the Presentation on New Ways to Serve and Integrate Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Communities

Link to G20 Website

Related new articles:

Op-ed on Reuters from by Graça Machel: A G20 Imperative: Focus on our children

Op-ed on Daily Caller from Kevin Hyland: It’s critical that the G20 addresses human trafficking


Leading members from Lebanon’s diverse network of religious institutions came together on Tuesday to stress the crucial role that faith plays in responding to the refugee crisis and to urge for faith to be better integrated into the mainstream refugee response.

Representatives from UNHCR and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Christian, Sunni and Shia faith leaders, as well as aid groups with and without religious foundations all stressed how faith should play a pivotal role in reducing the strain of displacement and war and be used as a tool to better integrate arrivals into host communities, as well as in preventing conflict in the first place.

The Role of Local Faith Actors in Implementing the Global Compact on Refugees event was co-hosted by the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI), World Vision, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Kaiciid Dialogue Centre, the Middle East Council of Churches and ACT Alliance. Dozens of faith representatives, leaders from faith-based and secular humanitarian agencies as well as multiple UN agencies and government representatives all attended the consultation at AUB’s Issam Fares Institute.

Faith and humanitarian organizations discuss refugee response in beirut

pc: World Vision Lebanon

UNHCR’s Representative in Lebanon Mireille Girard said: “At a time of unprecedented displacement across the world, there is a growing consensus that we need to work together towards more effective responses. The Global Compact for Refugees recognises that we need to do better. We all have a role to play and need to mobilise everyone.

“Faith-based organisations are relevant throughout this cycle of displacement – from arrival, to eventual return. Faith-based organisations have a sound knowledge of the context and have a lot of experience in relief support. They also have a role to play in conflict prevention and reconciliation where they can be especially relevant.

“With economic crises and unemployment prevailing in many parts of the world, refugees are increasingly being stigmatised and seen as the reason for these economic crises. These sentiments are widespread so we have to ask ourselves what we can do together to address this phenomenon.”

Robin Sghbini, the Minister of Social Affairs representative and the Head of the Resettlement Response Plan in Lebanon, stressed that religious leaders have an important role to play because they exert great influence in their local communities.

“Their role is not only to ease tensions between the displaced and the host communities, but to reach cooperation in order to resolve other societal issues affecting the refugee community,” he said. “In the past the ministry of social affairs has cooperated with many religious leaders to protect children and women from early marriage and other social and humanitarian issues that protect and support refugees in Lebanon.”

Sghbini also welcomed the idea of partnership between religious leaders and other institutions concerned with the protection of refugee rights because “the crisis of displacement has reached its maximum and we need to join all our efforts”.


Professor Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Academic Chair of the JLI’s Refugee and Forced Migration Hub, Professor of Migration and Refugee Studies and Co-Director, UCL-Migration Research Unit University College London, said:

“When a person is forced to leave their home and their country in search of refuge and international protection, they are uprooted from their relatives, communities and lives. Often, they will see loved ones killed or injured and face immense barriers as they seek safety. The distress that these experiences and barriers cause is profound, often leaving people struggling to cope in their new surroundings.

“In times like these, faith is one of the only things that many people have left. Yet all too often even this is restricted as people lose access to religious support when they are displaced. What we have seen around the world, though, is that faith can be a key tool in helping people to recover and pursue their quest for protection and social justice. We have also seen that, when harnessed effectively, faith can bring communities together and help prevent future conflict.

“The international community has already recognised the role of faith actors in the Global Compact on Refugees, but it is up to us to ensure that displaced people are able to seek, and be granted, protection, to translate these noble words and intentions into concrete actions.”

The Global Compact for Refugees (GCR), agreed by the world at the end of 2018, acknowledges the role faith actors play in helping refugees and host communities all over the world, but the compact is non-binding.

To truly maximise the impact that faith actors in global refugee response Prof. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh said that the research that has been conducted by the JLI Refugees and Forced Migration Hub shows that:

  • Humanitarian actors and other institutions need to recognise faith actors in all aspects of refugee response and ensure that faith actors are able to meaningfully take part and share responsibility.

  • International actors should expand engagement with faith actors, especially local faith actors in refugee response, with donor agencies stepping up support to build the capacity and compliance of those on the ground.

  • Financial barriers that exclude and discriminate against faith-based organisations need to be removed and donors must support faith actors that provide key services in support of refugees and members of host communities.

  • Access to spiritual support must be available to displaced people alongside psycho-social and humanitarian support.

  • Faith leaders need to be recognised for the role they can and do play in promoting Gender Justice, often countering – not advocating for – issues like FGM and child marriage.

  • Inter- and multi-faith initiatives should be supported to aid integration in host countries and help reconciliation upon return.


Many speakers were careful to stress that they felt xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia, in particular, were all on the rise, across the world but also across the Middle East.


Ziad el Sayegh, Policies and Communication Advisor, Middle East Council of Churches:

“The Global Compact for Migrants and Refugees is built on the obligation to respect human dignity and peace in society and to implement justice; these are fundamental values in all religions.

“It is absolutely impossible for religious authorities not to make the choice of promoting hope and moving people away from xenophobia, especially when accompanying the migration and refugee crises.

“It is impossible to solve the political and security crises through a mere economic and social approach. Solutions should be inspired by the religious fundamentals of human dignity, going back to the roots of ethical bases. This is the role of religious authorities when it comes to converging with the content of the Global Compact for Migrants and Refugees.”

Sheikh Hassan Dalli, of Lebanese organization Iftaa House, and the Mufti of Hasbaya and Marjeeyoun, meanwhile stressed that the Syrian conflict forced many to flee due to internal Syrian matters, but that it was important for all to be concerned for the safety and wellbeing of those who had fled seeking a safer place for their family and children.

“This was our humanitarian duty to receive the Syrian refugees in Lebanon as many countries did and to provide what is necessary to preserve their lives,” he said. “Similar circumstances have happened throughout history during wars and its hardships.”

This event is made possible by support from the Henry Luce Foundation

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: [email protected]

To find out more about how faith actors can help deliver on the Global Compact please read the Joint Learning Initiative Refugee Hub’s policy brief.  

اقرأ الخبر الصحفي هنا بالعربي

The diversity of origins and traditions which make humanity unique are being targeted by intolerance, sometimes by brutal violence, and refugees are often on the front line of this assault. Reinforcing the traditional role of faith communities in offering sanctuary to refugees, more than 25 faith-based actors express their further commitment to upholding the dignity of refugees through offering effective protection, access to social services and fulfilment of human rights and enhancing peacebuilding efforts. Based on their religious teachings, as well as on the experience that some of their communities have of being targeted themselves, faith-based actors seek to address xenophobia as one of their special responsibilities.


The Global Compact on Refugees specifically recognizes the contribution and long-standing experience of faith-based actors in supporting refugees and will highlight these contributions at the Global Refugee Forum. Whether supporting refugees, including children, on their journey to safety including in reception and admission, meeting protection or service delivery needs and supporting communities to find solutions such as private sponsorship programmes, faith-based actors are committed to working alongside states and the rest of the global humanitarian community to deliver the promise of the Global Compact on Refugees.


This statement is supported by:

  1. ACT Alliance
  2. Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
  3. American Jewish World Service
  4. Anglican Alliance
  5. Anglican Communion
  6. Caritas Internationalis
  7. Christian Aid
  8. Church World Service
  9. EU-CORD
  10. Food for the Hungry
  11. Global One
  12. HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)
  13. International Catholic Migration Commission
  14. Islamic Relief Worldwide
  15. Jesuit Refugee Service
  16. Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities
  17. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
  18. Network for Dialogue
  19. Religions for Peace
  20. Soka Gakkai International
  21. Tearfund
  22. World Council of Churches
  23. World Evangelical Alliance
  24. World Relief
  25. World Vision International

MEDIA ADVISORY: Invitation to join livestream event & interview speakers


WHEN: 10AM – 1PM Tuesday 18 JUNE 2019


                      KEY SPEAKERS: Ministry of Social Affairs Representative; UNHCR representative in Lebanon Mrieille Girard, Sheikh Hassan Dali Iftaa House, Bishop Elia Toumeh, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, Ziad El Sayegh Middle East Council of Churches, World Vision, Save the Children.

Co-hosted by the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities, World Vision, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Kaiciid Dialogue Centre, the Middle East Council of Churches, ACTAlliance and the Inter-religious Platform for Dialogue and Cooperation in the Arab World

The event was live streamed on World Vision Lebanon’s Facebook page

"The Role of Local Faith Actors in implementing The Global Compact on Refugees" – Panel Discussion

Posted by World Vision in Lebanon on Tuesday, 18 June 2019

BEIRUT, LEBANON JUNE 2019: Leading members from Lebanon’s diverse network of religious institutions met international humanitarian organisations Tuesday to discuss the crucial role which faith plays in responding to refugee crises.

The Global Compact for Refugees (GCR), agreed by the world at the end of 2018, acknowledges the role faith actors play in helping refugees and host communities all over the world, as well as in preventing conflicts from occurring in the first place.

However, the document is non-binding and the practicalities of how this can be done effectively still need to be agreed in many countries across the world.

Building a cohesive strategy in Lebanon, which houses one of the world’s largest refugee populations, will be imperative if the GCR is to be properly harnessed to help the more than 65 million refugees across the world and the countless more millions in host communities who are impacted by displacement from neighbouring communities.

A full PR with key findings and statements will be issued soon after the event.

This event is made possible by support from the Henry Luce Foundation

For more information please contact: [email protected]

Notes to Editors:

This event is the latest in a series organised by a coalition of global faith-based organisations and leading academics to generate awareness and dialogue on how local faith communities can and do complement the work of international humanitarian agencies and member states in implementing the full scope of the GCR.

See event page

June 2019

We are happy to announce the publication of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities (JLI) Ending Violence Against Children Hub (EVAC Hub) three-part scoping study. The EVAC Hub began the scoping study in 2018 to better understand the role of religion and faith actors in protecting children against violence. Dr Carola Eyber at Queen Margaret University (QMU) led the scoping study with Dr Selina Palm at Stellenbosch University, Kathleen Rutledge at QMU, and Francisco Colombo under the guidance of Dr Olivia Wilkinson at JLI.

Thanks also to the JLI EVAC Hub co-chairs- Rebeca Rios-Kohn, Arigatou International, Neelam Fida, Islamic Relief Worldwide and Robyn Hagan, World Vision International. The study would also like to acknowledge the numerous hub members who contributed resources, case studies and interview suggestions.

The scoping study focused on two areas:

Firstly, the unique contributions of faith communities to ending as well as contributing to violence against children. Secondly, the role of faith actors in influencing and supporting the wider community and formal and informal child protection systems.

The scoping study had three components: an extensive literature review, a case study submission
process for hub members to share practice-based models and a consultation stage with experts through interviews. The study covered all regions and faiths.

Join the JLI Hub as a member to hear about the launch of the scoping study and soon to be release policy briefs on positive contributions of faith communities and faith engagement mechanisms to ending violence against children, and critical issues facing faith communities.


Click below to read the different parts of the scoping study.

Literature Review                       Case Studies                        Experts’ Consultation


Brief 1: A Mixed Blessing: Roles of faith communities in ending violence against children

Brief 2: Why faith? Engaging faith mechanisms to end violence against children

Join the JLI Ending Violence Against Children for next steps and collaboration.


By Jean Duff

April 25, 2019

Local faith communities are often first responders on the frontlines of meeting daily basic needs. But like refugees and migrants, faith-based organizations can face discrimination.

It’s time to include faith-based organizations, and respect local faith communities for who they often are — key participants on the frontlines of global refugee and migrant response.

Click here to read the opinion article.

You are invited to provide feedback to the outcome document of the Workshop on HIV among Migrants and Refugees: Strengthening collaboration among faith-based organizations, multi-lateral organizations, governments, and civil society in addressing HIV risk, provision of services, and advocacy that took place on 20-21 February 2019.
The Road Map is now ready to be implemented! You are invited to circulate it within your networks.
Please, regularly share your achievements and information on the actions you are undertaking with [email protected].
Shared by Jacek Tyzko, Senior Advisor, Faith Engagement, UNAIDS on behalf of Francesca Merico, World Council of Churches, HIV Campaign Coordinator, on behalf of the planning team (UNAIDS, PEPFAR, WHO, NGO PCB Delegation, UNHCR, IOM, Anglican Communion, ICMC, WCC-EAA)
The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities is a knowledge partner with the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development/PaRD workstreams to conduct research on partnerships/collaboration between religious/faith actors, NGOs, governmental, and inter-governmental agencies on peace justice and strong institutions (SDG 16).
The first stage of the PaRD SDG 16 Workstream research project is to collect and share good practices and models of violence prevention and peacebuilding processes in which religious and traditional actors have been involved in SDG 16. The JLI research will focus on partnerships between faith actors, NGOs, governmental, and inter-governmental agencies and in the following countries:
  • Africa: Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Central African Republic
  • Asia: Myanmar, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka
This should only take 5 minutes to complete and will allow us to follow-up with you or your suggested partner organizations to conduct the research interviews and build the case studies. The research is expected to be completed by July, with initial results communicated at the PaRD Annual Meeting in May.
We request that you complete this form by Wednesday, March 27. If you have any questions about the form or case studies, please contact Dr Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research ([email protected])