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In historic first, G20 convenes world’s major religious leaders to find faith-based solutions to global crises

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 R20 (the Religion 20), an engagement group of the G20, convened some of the world’s most prominent religious leaders and civil society actors to leverage the power of world religions to tackle pressing global challenges – ranging from climate change to conflict resolution, On November 3rd in Bali, Indonesia,

The opening remarks of the forum were delivered by Dr Muhammad Abdulkarim Al Issa, Head of the Muslim World League, Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, Yahya Cholil Staquf and President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo.

A virtual address was also delivered from His Holiness Pope Francis.
On the final day, a statement on religious understanding will be released – including a call for the role of faith and religions to be harnessed on the world stage for environmental protection just days prior to COP27.

The first ever R20 has been organised by two of the world’s largest Islamic non-governmental organisations, the Muslim World League (MWL) and the Indonesian Nahdlatul Ulam (NU) which together have hundreds of millions of followers across the globe.

R20 takes place between November 2nd and 3rd, prior to the main heads of state and government summit consisting of the world’s most economically powerful nations between November 15th and 16th.

This year’s forum titled “Revealing and nurturing religion as a source of global solutions”, provides moral leadership at a time of unprecedented economic turmoil.
Key agenda items being discussed include:
· Preventing the weaponization of religious identity.

· The role of world religions in climate and environmental preservation
· Curtailing the spread of communal hatred.
· Addressing historical grievances and moving towards reconciliation.
· recontextualizing obsolete and problematic tenets of religion.
· Countering religious radicalisation.
· Countering the persecution of religious minorities.
Religious leaders are also expected to make a notable environmental declaration – due to take place 3 days before the start of COP27.
Some of the high-profile speakers at R20 include:
· Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia (Indonesia)
· Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of Muslim World League (Saudi Arabia)
· Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (Indonesia)
· Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (Vatican)
· Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the Protestant World Evangelical Alliance – representing 600 million people in 143 countries (Germany)
· Archbishop Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba, Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Nigeria)
· Reverend Yoshinobu Miyake, Chair of the Board of International Shinto Studies Association (Japan)
· Swami Govind Dev Giri (India) · Rabbi Silvina Chemen, Professor at the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary (Argentina)
· Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayah, Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies (UAE)
· Jan Figel, Former EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU
· Matthew Hassan Kukah, Roman Catholic Bishop of Sokoto (Nigeria)
· Bashar Matti Warda, Archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church (Iraq)
· Archbishop Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance and the Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom (Germany)
· Andrés Pastrana, Former President of Colombia and current Leader of the Centrist Democrat International (Colombia).
Discussing the strategic aim of the upcoming conference, Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, the Secretary-General of MWL and the co-chair of the forum, said: “Major global challenges today are not merely political or economic challenges. They are moral challenges. And navigating the world out of these crises requires moral and spiritual leadership. That is why this year, the world’s religious leaders are for the first time part of one of the world’s biggest political and governmental policy forums, the G20. It is time we acknowledge that religion and faith must be part of the solution for global political crises”.
He added “it is imperative we translate the values of the R20 into actionable steps that make a tangible difference in the world. It is in this context I announce the launch of the “East-West Bridge Building Initiative” here at the R20 – a new NGO designed to use religious diplomacy to build bridges between diverse groups around the world. It is important we move beyond ‘repetitive’ dialogue that has had little impact in facilitating cooperation amongst nations and peoples.” “I am also proud to announce the creation of a new humanitarian fund for the victims of war everywhere – including of course – in Ukraine. The Muslim world has a significant role to play in providing such assistance to victims of conflict on the world stage.”
Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama said “The R20 is an initiative with the intention of infusing geopolitical and economic power structures with moral and spiritual values so that humanity can pursue effective solutions to its many crises.” He added, “we are proud to partner with The Muslim world league, the most important Muslim organisation in the world.”

Pope Francis said ““all of us have a moral obligation to care for the earth, which is our common home, preserving for future generations the divine gift of creation.” He added “we must affirm that extremism, radicalism, terrorism and all other incentives to hatred, hostility, violence and war, whatever their motivations or goals, have nothing to do with the authentic spirit of religion and must be rejected in the most decisive terms possible solution.

Swami Govind Dev Giri from India said the “R20 is a melting pot of all religious faiths.”
Archbishop Henry Chukwudum N dukuba, Primate of the Church of Nigeria said “Nigeria may be a test case for whatever we decide at this conference.” He added Nigeria is affiliated with religious extremism, saying “Christian communities in Nigeria face terrorism and attacks”. He said “We ask that you (R20) come to our aid” and that “R20 has embraced religious pluralism. This would be beneficial for the world.”

Professor Mary Ann Glendon from Harvard Law School said “This is landmark for the G20 to recognise the role of religion in discourse. In future we may look back at this as a turning point as a sort of historic moment.”

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