Report of the G20 Interfaith Forum

25 October 2021, 4:20 AM
Picture: 6 young people stand together in a row.

Photos of CC members and staff who represented URI at the G20 Interfaith Forum (Emina, Tahil, Mirjona, Erin, Vasu, Clement)

I'm very happy to share this report with you about the G20 Interfaith Forum that took place in Bologna, Italy from September 11-14 this year. 

URI partnered with ACWAY (organizers of the Youth Interfaith Forum at the G20) along with other organizations like Religions for Peace, KAICIID, and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers to take part in the planning and participation of the Forum this year, thanks to the leadership of Sarah Oliver, Associate Director of Global Programs, and Samira Fatma Baručija, Regional Coordinator for URI Multiregion. The YIF brought together 50 young leaders from 30 countries representing 13 different religious, spiritual, and secular worldviews to discuss how young people. 

Young leaders from North America/Multi-Region (Erin Adarve and Vasu Bandhu), Europe (Mirjona Hoxhallari and Emina Frljak), and West Africa (Clement Awanfe Ngueto) represented URI, along with Regional Coordinator for North America Tahil Sharma and member of the URI UN team Audrey Kitagawa. The conference consisted of a day and a half of programming for young leaders that included networking, skill-building, best practices of interfaith dialogue, and event coordination while the larger conference consisted of panels and lectures exploring the intersection between faith and policy around the world. Participants had the opportunity to meet with political leaders, policymakers, and faith leaders. 

Picture: Participants of the Youth Interfaith Forum standing with Nasr-Eddin Mofarah, Minister of Religious Affairs for the Country of Sudan. 

Participants of the Youth Interfaith Forum standing with Nasr-Eddin Mofarah, Minister of Religious Affairs for the Country of Sudan. 

Tahil and Erin were able to also present a session for skill-sharing that discussed the challenges and opportunities in engaging young people to work in spaces for interfaith cooperation, highlighting the roles of power and privilege that often deter underrepresented communities including youth from participating and taking roles in leadership. A few snippets of this session can be found attached to this email.

Picture: Erin and Tahil presenting during their session "Making Our Mark: Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities for Effective Multifaith Action"

Erin and Tahil presenting during their session "Making Our Mark: Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities for Effective Multifaith Action"

Picture: Vasu speaking on a panel with other participants called “Youth-led Paradigm Shift in Interfaith Spaces"

Vasu speaking on a panel with other participants called “Youth-led Paradigm Shift in Interfaith Spaces"

Some major highlights:

  • Keynote speakers including Mario Draghi (Prime Minister of Italy), Bartholomew I of Constantinople (Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church),
  • Messages from the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights and the Holy See, as well as political officials from over 20 countries (Federal ministers, members and presidents of national assemblies, and more)
  • Remarks by interfaith leaders including Azza Karam, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace International 

In the coming weeks, you will have some first-hand opportunities to hear from participants directly through blog posts, social media posts, and a Zoom event where you can ask questions about their experience. 

Here's a reflection by Erin Adarve from the Anytown Las Vegas CC who said this to say on Instagram about her experience:

I often found myself awestruck wonder at the sights of this beautiful city. from European architecture to historically rich basilicas to stone white steps & cobblestone paths, but it was the people I met during a very short amount of time that captivated me the most. to my friends from every continent of the world, your words & wisdom are something that I will take with me where ever I go. Interfaith work is rooted in the belief of unity in difference & dialogue as healing, and you’ve all shown me firsthand that this is indeed true. Really big thank you to @acwayofficial & @uriglobal for granting me this opportunity.

Some resources that came out of the gathering include:

Photo: Group photo of all the participants of the G20 Youth Forum

Youth Interfaith Forum participants

Cooperation Circles Involved