Letter from the PresidentDear Friends and Colleagues,
“Thrilling” isn’t usually associated with religious freedom. Yet, thrilling best describes the response of major international organizations and business, government and religious leaders to good business playing an instrumental role in supporting interfaith understanding, peace and religious freedom.
Of course, much work needs to be done, but this new traction suggests that responsible business has the power not only to create a global future of innovative and sustainable economies but also a future where religious freedom and diversity are respected.
Please join me on this amazing journey described below. And, if you’re able, join me at the UN in New York on December 10, where I’ll give a further update!
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G20 Interfaith SummitI am currently on a four-city speaking and media tour of Australia in conjunction with the G20 meetings underway today in Brisbane where world leaders are discussing new approaches to ensure economic growth is sustained in the years ahead that lifts people out of poverty.
On Australian national and local radio I’ve been discussing how religious freedom is an essential component of sustainable economic growth, because when citizens of all faiths are active members of a society and draw inspiration from their faith, innovation and motivation increases exponentially.
Last night, as part of the “Important Conversations” series, I discussed my recent blog at the World Economic Forum (see below) on how business impact investment among religiously persecuted groups, such as Christians in the Middle East or Dalits in Nepal and Pakistan, not only empowers these marginalized groups, but also removes space that otherwise might be controlled by terrorist movements, such as ISIS.
On Monday, I’ll be speaking at the G20 Interfaith Summit that brings together some of the best minds from around the world to discuss how faith matters in creating economies that are sustainable and ethical. This inaugural event aims to annually accompany the G20 Leaders Summit. Next year’s G20 summit is in Turkey.
Later next week, I’ll speak to the Trustees Meeting of the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), then to students and faculty at Notre Dame Law School (Sydney) and Adelaide University Law School.
In each of these, I’ll discuss the empirical research showing that freedom of religion or belief, when protected by governments and respected by citizens, results not only in less conflict and violence but also in better social and economic outcomes, including better lives for women. A corollary to this is that business respect for and encouragement of interfaith understanding pays dividends in peace and stability as well as provides benefits to the bottom line.
And the founder and executive director of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, invited the members of the “role of faith” council – which I am a member of and our Board member, Chris Seiple chairs – to participate in a private dinner at the recent WEF meeting in Dubai with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Also attending were former President of Ghana, John Kufuor, former president of the American Bar Association, Laurel Bellows, Catholic Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Nigeria, and Sojourner’s President and Founder Jim Wallis.Brazilian billionaire and new member of the WEF role of religion council, Carlos W. Martins, was so inspired by the connection between religious freedom and business, that he produce a short video to tell the world of the connection.This was part of the 3-day Global Agenda Council meeting, where the role of religion council was given the mandate to develop a toolkit that will help businesses understand how religion impacts business and the economy. Much of the work of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation can directly contribute to accomplishing this thrilling mission. For instance, see my recent WEF Blog.
United Nations Business for Peace & New YorkIn follow-up to a series of successful partnering events with the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace initiative, including a global webinar and a publication launched together with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, I’ll be speaking on the economic and business case for religious freedom, hosted by the freedom of religion or belief NGO committee at the United Nations in New York on Dec. 10 at 2PM at 866 UN Plaza (Suite 120).
Jeffrey French of Business for Peace, and Prof. Silvio Ferrari of Milan and Princeton Universities will comment on my presentation. For more information on this event, contact: