SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Keeping Faith in 2030: Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals


Date: 12 February 2019Time: 12:30 PM

Finishes: 13 February 2019Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House)

Type of Event: Conference


Religion is a major cultural, social, political, and economic factor in many ODA recipient countries, which is why understanding the local religious dynamics and the role of faith actors is crucial for sustainable development. While development practice and development studies had essentially subscribed to a modernist, secular paradigm of social change for much of the 20th century, this could be undergoing a process change. Greater portions of development aid are now channelled via so-called ‘faith-based’ initiatives or organisations, and religion is increasingly recognised as a human resource rather than just an obstacle to development. Many religious groups have also been involved perceptibly in development policy, by adopting and heralding the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and more recently the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, in contrast to the MDGs, the SDGs are aimed at the Global North and the Global South.

This conference is the fourth and final event of a research network – funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK and convened by SOAS and the University of Leeds in partnership with the Humanitarian Academy of Development  – which aims to enhance international exchange about the role of religions in defining, implementing, and safeguarding ‘sustainable development’, as codified in the UN’s ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs). The conference will present the main findings of the network and will draw out comparative perspectives with other research on religions and development as well as the SDG engagement of FBOs in their domestic work in Britain.

It ends with a launch of the network’s policy brief in the Jubilee Room, Westminster Hall (4-6pm, February 13th, 2019). This will be hosted by Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society.

To register for the conference at SOAS and for the launch of the network’s policy brief in the Jubilee Room, Westminster Hall please contact: Naomi Popple,

RSVP by 24th January 2019. Registration is free but places may be limited. 


(download programme)

February 12th 2019

Room: Senate House, Wolfson Lecture Theatre (SWLT)

12.30-13.30 Registration and refreshments/lunch

13.30–14.00 Welcome and Introduction

Professor Emma Tomalin and Dr Jörg Haustein

14.00–15.00 Religions and the SDGs in India and Ethiopia: Main Findings and Discussions

Religious Diversity, the State and Society: Religions and the SDGs in India
Professor Emma Tomalin (University of Leeds)

State Ownership and a Faith/Development Divide: Religions and the SDGs in Ethiopia
Dr Jörg Haustein (SOAS)

15.00–15.30 Refreshments

15.30–18.00 Religions and SDGs in Asia and Africa: Practical Challenges

Partnership for Development: The Ambiguous Role of FBOs in Achieving SDGs in India
Dr Paul D’Souza (Indian Social Institute)

Does the Theoretical Language of SDG 5 Hinder Understanding and Addressing Intimate Partner Violence Cross-Culturally? Some Epistemological Concerns and Empirical Insights from a Religious Society of Ethiopia
Dr Romina Istratii (SOAS)

Understanding the Role of Women in Radicalism in West African Countries
Ousseynou Niang (Timbuktu Institute African Center for Peace Studies, and Observatory of Radicalisms and Religious Conflicts in Africa, Dakar, Senegal)

‘Hidden Catholics’, ‘faith-blind’ donors and ‘FBO empires’: A mixed-methods study on donor engagement of faith-based organisations in the Cameroonian health system
Sybille Herzig van Wees (SOAS)

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Role of Religion in Achieving Progress in the SDGs
Dr Pat Finlow (City University of London)

18.00 Light dinner, refreshments

February 13th 2019

Room: Main Building, L67

8.30-10.30 FBOs and SDGs in the UK

Religions and the SDGs in the UK
Emma Bridger and Dr Joanne Sadgrove (USPG)

Chaplains for SDGs? Motivational Factors in Mental Health Chaplains: UK practitioners’ Perspectives
Christoforos Pavlakis (University of Aberdeen)

Mobilising young British Muslims around sustainable development issues: MADE (Muslim
Action for Development and Environment) as a case study
Davide Pettinato (PhD in Islamic Studies, University of Exeter)

Faith-based Organisations and Gender Equality: Opportunities for Supporting Immigrant Women in the UK Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence
Omolade Femi-Ajao, PhD (University of Manchester)

10.30-11.00 Refreshments

11.00-13.00 FBOs and SDGs in International Collaboration

Mobilising and Sustaining SDGs Actions at Local Levels: How Faith Organisations Can Deploy MY World 2030 Global Survey
Hilary Ogbonna (UN SDG Action Campaign)

Home and away: The Challenges of Islamic Relief Worldwide and Domestic Programming
Dr Susannah Pickering-Saqqa (University of East London)

Design Principles for Sustainability: Introducing Tearfund’s International Development Approach
Nicholas Simpson (University of Cape Town) and Madleina Daehnhardt (University of Cambridge)

Soka Gakkai International in the UK: Building A People’s Movement for Sustainable Development
Jamie Cresswell (Centre for Applied Buddhism) and Dr Michele Lamb (University of Roehampton)

13.00-14.00 Lunch

16.00-18.00 Westminster launch of Keeping Faith in 2030 policy briefs.

Change of Venue: The Jubilee Room, Westminster Hall. Travel directions will be given at conference. Please ensure to arrive at least 30 minutes before the event starts to clear security.
All registered participants welcome.

Please be aware that we need to share registration participant information with the All Party Parliamentary Group of Faith and Society for all participants wishing to attend this event.

Organiser: Dr Jörg Haustein (SOAS), Professor Emma Tomalin (Leeds)

Contact email: