African faith-based organisations urge respect for region's resources
Addis Ababa: Speaking of the African Faith Leaders’ Statement on Financing for Development, issued following a side event at the 3rd United Nations Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, The Rev Nicta Lubaale, General Secretary of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches, said, the key message from African faith communities is “respect Africa’s resources”.
Lubaale was present at the side event, which brought together representatives of African faith communities, including member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The 3rd United Nations Financing for Development Conference was held from 13 to 16 July.
“Africa is a place blessed with abundance whose wealth has historically been unfairly appropriated by other societies through slavery, colonisation, unfair trade and illicit financial flows”, reads the statement. The statement therefore calls for a “sustained shift in relations in light of shared humanity”.
Participants of the side event also called for an end to corporate tax evasion and use of tax havens. They endorsed a call for the establishment of an inter-governmental global tax body for the compulsory monitoring and exchange of tax information.
They agreed that ecologically destructive activities must be heavily taxed or prohibited altogether. Financing to help Africa and other regions, they stressed, responds to the challenge of climate change which must be a focus of attention and clearly differentiated from targets to increase foreign aid.
The faith leaders said that to tackle chronic sovereign debt crises, which mostly hurt the impoverished, an international comprehensive, fair and transparent debt restructuring mechanism must be established.
Among the organisations which endorsed the statement are the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa, the World Student Christian Federation-Africa, the Economic Justice Network and the WCC’s Ecumenical Disability Advocacy Network. The signatories also include Muslim, Hindu and Baha’i organisations in the region.
Speaking of proposals in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Athena Peralta, WCC consultant for the Economic and Ecological Justice programme, said, “An important opportunity to fix systemic flaws in the international financial architecture has been lost, as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda has failed to enshrine our calls.”
“Yet it is even more critical for the churches to continue to demand these reforms in the global financial system. It is a matter of life and death for people living in poverty,” she said.
The calls for reform also resonate with recommendations made in two ecumenical documents; the Sao Paulo Statement: International Financial Transformation for an Economy of Life and Economy of Life for All Now: An Ecumenical Action Plan for a New International Financial and Economic Architecture.
* Related: African Faith Leaders’ Statement on Financing for Development (Issued by the African Inter Faith Initiative on the Post 2015 Development Agenda )
We, Religious Leaders from all over Africa, under the auspices of the Africa Interfaith Initiative on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, have met in Nairobi at the Desmond Tutu Conference Centre on 21 May 2015 to reflect on Funding for Development (FfD) in light of the ongoing debate on shaping the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As African faith communities we eagerly anticipate the promise of sustainable development - a life of abundance, without hunger, poverty and the injustices brought forth by war, inequality, and other evils. At an earlier meeting, on 2 July 2014 in Kampala, Uganda, we expressed our faith in the potential of the Post 2015 development agenda and its outcomes as a genuinely transformative platform in the interests of Africa’s development. We also expressed our support for the African Common Position on the Post 2015 Development Agenda in the context of Africa’s Vision 2063 articulated by the African Union.
We recognise that financing shall comprise a primary condition for whether or not Africa can achieve desired development goals. The experience of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) demonstrates clearly the connection between financing and individual states’ progress on each of the goals. It is therefore gratifying that the question of how to finance development is preceding the final U.N. decision summit on the Sustainable Development Goals and later in the year, the Paris Climate Change summit.