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Executive Director,
World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD)
Katherine Marshall

Building the “Network of Networks”

The G20 Forum offers special challenges and opportunities.
The challenges before the Forum are to confront the vast agenda of global issues that the G20 leaders lay out each year and to formulate and articulate solid recommendations that represent the most robust, well crafted, and bold ideas that religious communities can bring to the table.

And the opportunity is to address the notable and persisting gap in dialogue and partnership that still separate most national governments and international institutions and institutions organized and inspired by faith.

The Forum aspires to meet these challenges and opportunities by working with the rich array of initiatives and entities that strive to lead, coordinate, and document the work that religiously inspired institutions do in every corner of the world and on every conceivable topic. It aims to draw on thoughtful and demanding dialogue processes that address tensions and differences and that aim to build common ground.

Some of the coordinating networks are global in scope and reach: the World Faiths Development Dialogue, founded in 1999 by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Lord Carey) and James D. Wolfensohn, World Bank President, is among them. Some focus on specific regions and topics. But all aim to bring wisdom, experience, and fresh ideas to the tasks of building peaceful and harmonious societies, making key goals for people (child welfare, education, and health above all) a reality, and acting to protect the planet.

The Forum is a special chance that forces religious actors to set their actions in a global perspective, to test their ideas against the best that emerge from other sectors, and to advocate courageously and creatively for action and change.

It is also an opportunity to reinforce the critical moral force that links the best of religion: a passionate commitment to equity and compassion, to social justice, to rights and to duties, and to hope and confidence that indeed a better world is within our grasp.