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Monthly Archives: September 2018

Sept. 26 – Religion, Business & Sustainable Development panel discussion

23 Sep, 2018

High level panel of CEOs will discuss how faith within the business sector makes for a more human economy

Business is a powerful force for improving the lives of people around the world. And many business people are motivated by faith. They view life holistically, where what they do from Monday to Friday flows from their religious convictions. Such holism can impact not only their ethics but also their priorities and practice.

This multi-faith panel of business leaders will discuss the practical challenges at the intersection of religion and business, the difficulties they face as people of faith who also have to make a profit, and ways business and religious leaders can work together to strengthen human rights, sustainable development and reach the most vulnerable in our communities.

Location: Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel and Convention Center, San Martín 1225/1275. 16:30-17:45.


  • – Brian Grim (chair), President, Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, USA
  • – Mohamed Amersi, Founder & CEO of Emergent Telecom Ventures; Head of the Amersi Foundation
  • – Roberto Murchison, CEO, Grupo Murchison, Argentina.
  • – Juan Vaquer, President, Asociación Cristiana de Dirigentes de Empresa (ACDE), Argentina.
  • – Eduardo Elsztain (invited), Chairman, IRSA Inversiones y Representaciones; Vice President, World Jewish Congress, Argentina.


Brian Grim (PhD, Penn State) is the leading academic expert on the economic impact of religion and religious freedom. Brian is the founding president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, but, more interestingly, he is the personification of the film character played by Tom Hanks, “Forrest Gump,” who was everywhere at just the right time. Deng Xiaoping, the Paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China, approved Grim’s proposal to build a faith-based graduate school in the largest Muslim region of China on 8/8/88, a significant date to the Chinese. Then in November 1989, Grim walked through the Berlin Wall the day it fell. He was there as the Soviet Union dissolved – right in his office building – in what was then the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, and at the request of new (and current) President Nazarbaev, helped turn the Communist Party Training School in the country’s first free market management institute. Later, during the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Grim was an academic coordinator at the military academy of the United Arab Emirates. And in 2008, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj considered him the definitive source on the number of Muslims in the world. And after being neighbors with Barak Obama on Capitol Hill, the United States Senate used his research on religious freedom and the economy to pass unanimously a bipartisan amendment incorporating respect for religious freedom into its policy on international trade. More recently, he had meetings at the Vatican the day Pope Benedict resigned in 2013 and was soon pictured with Pope Francis, not to mention other world leaders as diverse as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. These Forrest Gump experiences make Grim a participant in our world’s key political, social, religious, and economic dynamics.

Mohamed Amersi is the Founder and CEO of Emergent Telecom Ventures, a consulting, advisory and asset management firm specializing in telecoms, media and technology. His non-profit, Amersi Foundation supports charities in education, poverty, conflict and religion in Africa, Middle East and Asia. More recently Mohamed launched the Inclusive Ventures Group, a social impact investing platform that has invested in education, livelihood, health and waste management in Africa and Asia. Mohamed is a fellow of Brasenose College, University of Oxford, a trustee of Prince’s Trust International, a member of the Development Board of the British Academy, a member of the Governing Council of the Royal Agricultural University, a member of the Global Leadership Council of the Said Business School, University of Oxford, and a trustee of the Satyarthi Foundation, Rose Castle Foundation, and Reboot the Future.

Roberto Murchison is CEO of Grupo Murchison, dedicated to port and logistic activities in Argentina. He is the President of Terminal Zárate, Vice-President of Murcan, and managing director of Murchison Uruguay. He is also the President of Cámara de Puertos Privados y Comerciales (CPPC). He is an industrial engineer educated at Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA) and holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the Sloan School of Management of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT – Boston, USA). Murchison is on the advisory board of Asociación Cristiana de Direigentes de Empresa (ACDE).

Juan Vaquer is President of the Christian Association of Business Leaders (Asociación Cristiana de Dirigentes de Empresa-ACDE). He is a lawyer with a Masters in International and Comparative Law from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA. He began his career as a lawyer in civil and commercial matters. Between 1988 and 1991, he worked in the public sector. Since 1990, he has worked at DuPont, currently occupying the position of President for Latin America. He was Chairman of the Board of AmCham Argentina, member of the Steering Committee of IDEA, and member of the CEADS Board of Directors.

Eduardo Elsztain (invited) is Chairman of IRSA Inversiones y Representaciones, Argentina’s largest real estate company; His business holdings include Cresud and Brasilagro, leading agricultural companies in Latam; Austral Gold, an Australian-based mining company; Dolphin Fund, which controls IDB Development, one of the largest conglomerates in Israel, involved in the insurance, telecommunications, agrochemicals and retail industries, among others. He is a member of the World Economic Forum; the Council of the Americas; the Group of 50; Argentina’s Association of Corporations (AEA); and on the Global Advisory Board of Endeavor, an international nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurs in emerging markets. He is the President of Fundacion IRSA, which promotes education among children and young people, and is involved with TAGLIT, Birthright Argentina. He is Chair of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Business Advisory Council, and WJC Vice-President.

G20 Interfaith Forum to begin as general strike in Argentina is planned

22 Sep, 2018

Argentina – host of the 2018 G20 global forum – is to face a general strike as the G20 Interfaith Forum is set to begin. The 5th annual G20 Interfaith Forum (a side event in advance of the official G20 meetings) comes at a critical time for the Argentinian economy as unions in the country announced a general strike for 24-25 September in opposition to expected sweeping austerity measures being developed by the government and the International Monetary Fund.

Protesters took to the streets in Buenos Aires this week, warning of extreme hardship for families already hit by spiralling inflation, prior to the return of an IMF mission to negotiate a possible rescheduling of disbursements from the Fund’s $50 billion loan.

Does faith have a role in addressing the crisis?

High level panel of CEOs will discuss how faith within the business sector makes for a more human economy

G20 Interfaith Forum — Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development: Religious Contributions for a Dignified Future

2018 G20 Interfaith Forum Program

G20 2018 Delegate Directory

G20 Interfaith Forum 2018 Flyer

The G20 Interfaith Forum will identify and showcase the policy and societal contributions of faith traditions and philosophies on leading global issues. It will create opportunities for communication and relationship building, and raises the profile of participating communities, groups, and organizations.

Particular attention is paid to ways that religious communities can contribute to the host country’s priorities. Thus, the agenda of this year’s Forum reflects topics that the Argentine government has identified for this year’s G20 Summit and broader objectives of the continuing G20 Summit process. The long-term objective is to enhance the capacity of different groups to work together to strengthen human development, understood in the broadest sense. Dialogue and networking facilitated by the Forum aim to raise the level and effectiveness of religious input on major global policy issues with recommendations and action geared to the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a key outcome.

Previous Interfaith Forums have been held in Gold Coast, Australia (2014); Istanbul, Turkey (2015); Beijing, China (2016); and Potsdam, Germany (2017). The 2018 Interfaith Forum will be held in connection with the thirteenth G20 Summit, which takes place in Buenos Aires 30 November – 1 December 2018. (Summary videos and programs of previous events can be viewed here.)

The 2018 G20 Interfaith Forum will take place 26-28 September in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Meetings will be held in the Auditorio Manuel Belgrano in the historic Palacio San Martín of Argentina’s Cancillería, the Ministry of Foreign and Religious Affairs, and in the nearby Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel and Convention Center. This is the fifth annual event in a series of G20 Interfaith Forums held in relation to the meetings of the international “Group of Twenty” (G20) Economic Summit. The G20 Interfaith Forum is pleased this year to partner with meetings of the Argentinian project Ética y Economía, an ongoing dialogue on religiously– and ethically–informed dimensions of the economy, development, and society.

What is the G20?

A leading global forum

The Group of Twenty (G20) is a leading forum of the world’s major economies that seeks to develop global policies to address today’s most pressing challenges. The G20 is made up of 19 countries and the European Union. The 19 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.


The G20 was born out of a meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors in 1999 who saw a need for a more inclusive body with broader representation to have a stronger impact on addressing the world’s financial challenges. The G7 invited leading markets – both developed and emerging – to form a new ministerial-level forum: the G20. In 2008, amidst the global financial crisis, the world saw a need for new consensus-building at the highest political level. Since then, the G20 summits have been attended by heads of State or Government, and the G20 was instrumental in stabilizing the world economy. Since then, its agenda has expanded to include additional issues affecting financial markets, trade and development.

Global Impact

Collectively, G20 members represent all inhabited continents, 85% of global economic output, two-thirds of the world’s population and 75% of international trade. G20 policy-making is enriched by the participation of key international organizations regularly invited to G20 meetings, guest countries invited at the president’s discretion and engagement groups composed of different sectors and the civil society.


14 Sep, 2018

葛百彦(Brian Grim)是美国宗教自由与企业基金会总裁,近年来曾多次访问本中心进行学术交流。如要了解宗教如何与美国资本主义社会相适应,如何在资本主义建设中发挥作用,可参考此文。

[内容提要] 本文概述了首个记录在案的、针对宗教对美国社会的经济价值的定量估算。具体而言,本研究提供了保守估算、中等估算和乐观估算。本研究最保守的估算,即仅着眼于基于信仰的组织,为每年3780亿美元,即超过万亿美元三分之一。从经济的视角来看,这一数字比全球两大科技巨头——苹果和微软——年收入的总和还要多。尽管此种估算具体数据最为翔实,我们认为它必然是一种低估,因为它关注的是年收入,而不是宗教组织提供的商品和服务的公平市价。我们的第二种估算,即中等估算,试图通过两种方式来纠正这种偏差:对宗教组织提供的商品和服务的公平市价进行估算,以及将有宗教渊源的企业的贡献考虑在内。这种中等估算认为宗教对美国社会的价值每年超过1万亿美元。我们的第三种估算,即乐观估算,承认信众的行为在某种意义上(尽管不完全)受到信仰理念的激发和指导。这种乐观估计基于具有宗教背景的美国人的家庭收入,并估计宗教对美国社会的价值为每年4.8万亿美元,相当于美国国内生产总值(GDP)的近1/3。最后,我们讨论了本研究的局限性,并指出了几种研究路径以供在本研究基础上加以拓展。


The Socio-economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis

Brian J. Grim and Melissa E. Grim


This article summarizes the first documented quantitative national estimates of the economic value of religion to U.S. society. Specifically, the study provides conservative, mid-range, and high estimates. The study’s most conservative estimate, which takes into account only the revenues of faith-based organizations, is $378 billion annually – or more than a third of a trillion dollars. By way of economic perspective, this is more than the global annual revenues of tech giants Apple and Microsoft combined. While this first estimate has the most concrete data, we believe that it is certainly an undervaluation because it focuses on annual revenues rather than on the fair market value of the goods and services religious organizations provide. Our second mid-range estimate attempts to correct for this in two ways: by providing an estimate of the fair market value of goods and services provided by religious organizations, and by including the contribution of businesses with religious roots. This mid-range estimate puts the value of religion to U.S. society at over $1 trillion annually. Our third, higher-end estimate recognizes that people of faith conduct their affairs to some extent (however imperfectly) inspired and guided by their faith ideals. This higher-end estimate is based on the household incomes of religiously affiliated Americans, and places the value of faith to U.S. society at $4.8 trillion annually, or the equivalent of nearly a third of America’s gross domestic product (GDP). Finally, we discuss the limitations of this study and suggest several possible lines of research that could build upon and extend this research.

Read full article

Religious Freedom and Sustainable Development

1 Sep, 2018

by Brian Grim

This article is prepared for the G20 Interfaith Forum taking place 26-28 September, 2018, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in advance of the annual G20 meeting. Brian Grim will be moderating a panel on Religion and Business at the Forum on September 26. For more information, see

Download pdf.

There is a strong and positive relationship between religious freedom and sustainable development as embodied in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit.

This relationship is important to understand because over the next twelve years, motivated by these new goals, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. All sectors of society need to see how religious freedom contributes to these efforts.

Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It calls for concerted efforts towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and planet. And eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

This article examines how religious freedom plays a part in achieving sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, fostering equitable social development and inclusion, and promoting integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

How does religious freedom align with the sustainable development goals?

Ending Poverty

Religious freedom helps tackle “small-p” poverty through “self reliance”

Poverty, some argue, can only be effectively tackled by governments enforcing top-down, big-P Poverty reduction policies and programs. But a host of religious groups haven’t gotten the memo. Innovative faith-based initiatives worldwide are tackling poverty using bottom-up, small-p poverty alleviation approaches that empower individuals to be resourceful, resilient and self-reliant.

Indeed, a central aspect of religious freedom is that it gives faith groups license to innovate and contribute to the wellbeing of individuals, communities and nations. But where religious freedom is curtailed, so are such innovations. For instance, reform-minded Saudi princess Basmah bint Saud argues, religion “should not be a shield behind which we hide from the world but a driving force that inspires us to innovate and contribute to our surroundings.”

This first installment of an ongoing series on the connection between religious freedom and sustainable development describes these small-p initiatives and concludes with a case study of how one faith group is directly targeting and reducing poverty in its congregations worldwide. Such faith-based activities are facilitated by religious freedom and directly contribute to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 – Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Also see the related World Economic Forum Agenda article by Brian Grim and Linda Woodhead, Can religion make economic growth more fair?

SDG5-genderEmpowering Women

Brian Grim, President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and Jo-Ann Lyon, General Superintendent, Wesleyan Church, explore how religious freedom contributes directly to women’s empowerment.

Religion is often seen as a barrier to gender parity. Stories abound of gender-based violence done in the name of religion. As a result, in many cases, the issues of religion and gender parity are often dismissed as too complicated to address. There appears to be no way to unwind this rather complex multi-institution.

However, a critical factor overlooked in this conversation is religious freedom. Unless there is religious freedom, minority groups, including women, will not be at the table and their vital, productive and creative voices will not be heard. Corporations and economies will suffer if they miss out on the contribution of women. The denial of religious freedom contributes to gender inequality throughout the world.

Extremist ideologies such as ISIS represent the complete loss of religious freedom, and when respect for a diversity of religious beliefs and practices disappears, gender equality suffers.

Goal 16 - PeaceFostering Peace

A global study challenges myth of religious violence. The research found no general causal relationship between religion and conflict when looking at all of the current conflicts in the world.

The study, conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) in conjunction with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, aims to get beyond ideology to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how religion interacts with peace.

Quantitative analysis has revealed that many of the commonly made statements surrounding the relationship between peace and religion are not supported by the analysis contained in this study.

Countries with greater religious freedoms are generally more peaceful, whereas countries with less religious freedom are generally less peaceful.

The most influential factor affecting religious freedom is the government type. Full democracies are the most peaceful and have the greatest level of religious freedom, regardless of the type of religious belief or various religious characteristics.