Comments by The Rt Hon Baroness Anelay of St Johns DBE, Minister of State, U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, at a recent seminar highlighting links between religious freedom and economic prosperity:
“I will turn now to the focus of today’s discussion, the link between religious freedom and prosperity.
I admire the pioneering work of my fellow speaker Dr Grim [president, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation] in this area. His work is needed, because sadly economic cost is often more persuasive than human cost, no matter the misery we see on our TV screens night after night.
Governments need hard economic proof, and to validate it they need proof from different sources.
So it makes absolute sense to get business engaged in this agenda, lobbying alongside governments and civil society.
I know that Professor Grim is keen to see improvements in the business climate to ensure that individuals from all backgrounds and faiths can realise their potential.
I am pleased to say that we in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office already support his aims through our international engagement. Through our work on business and human rights, we regularly encourage other governments to create an operating environment that is stable, secure and transparent.
To conclude, I hope I have shown just how seriously we take the issue of Freedom of Religion or Belief.
I very much value the efforts of parliamentarians, NGOs, think tanks and others, and the emerging work on the link between religious freedom and economic prosperity. I look forward to further collaborating on this with you.
I will finish with the words of the Prime Minister: “Now is not the time for silence. Now is not the time for inaction. We must stand together and fight for a world where no-one is persecuted because of what they believe.”
It is an inspiring call to action – let’s work together to make it a reality.”
Following Baroness Anelay’s comments, Dr Grim introduced several of the Foundation’s initiatives to engage the business world in advancing interfaith understanding and peace, including the Empowerment+ Interfaith Social Cohesion & Enterprise Initiative and the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards.
The Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards recognize business leaders – current or past CEOs – who have demonstrated leadership in championing interfaith understanding and peace. Awards will be presented on September 6, 2016, at the start of the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where award recipients will have the opportunity to present their commitment to interfaith understanding and peace while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16: “Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
The Awards are a partnership initiative of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, its Brazilian affiliate, the Associação pela Liberdade Religiosa e Negócios, and the United Nations Global Compact Business for Peace platform.