It is our pleasure and privilege to invite you to join us at the first ever Faith-Based UN-Habitat Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) from Nov. 13-15, 2017 in Singapore. At the UN’s invitation, the purpose of this meeting is for faith-based communities and organizations to make a significant contribution to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, otherwise known as UN-Habitat.
A remarkable feature of contemporary thinking in urban development is that faith-based communities and organizations are now seen as a vital component in helping create sustainable and resilient cities around the world. Formal recognition by the United Nations, civil society organizations, and development agencies that faith-based communities are central to the wellbeing of communities in our increasingly urban cultures is long overdue, and offers many new possibilities. While we each have our own long history of sustaining communities in cities, this is the first time (at least we are aware of) that an official body such as UN-Habitat has asked faith communities for our help, collectively as well as through our own distinct identities and stories.
In 2016 after an extensive three-year inter-governmental and civil society consultation process, member states of the United Nations agreed on a roadmap for urban development for the next twenty years. Entitled the New Urban Agenda (NUA-http://habitat3.org/the-new-urban-agenda), its purpose is to help guide governments, inter-governmental organizations, business, and civil society to respond to the challenges of a rapidly urbanizing world where over the next 20-30 years 75% of the world’s population will live in cities. Specifically, the challenge is to develop cities, towns, and neighbourhoods that are “just, safe, healthy, accessible, affordable, resilient and sustainable . . . [and] foster prosperity and quality of life for all. (NUA pg. 3)” Or more simply from faith perspective create communities of hope, compassion, education and engagement.
For the first time, the world’s major Christian evangelical organisation, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), is reaching out to people of different faiths because this is not a task for just one faith tradition. The invitation is for us all to come together to explore how we can work more closely and bring our specific faith insights and traditions to bear on this major area of shared concern. How can we live lives of fulfilment in an urban context without endangering creation through the demands of urban life? It has been this vision that has lead the WEA to actively participate in UN-Habitat’s three-year civil society consultation process leading up to, and including, Habitat III.
This led the WEA to apply to host a World Urban Campaign, Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) specifically for religions and faith-based organizations, enabling us all to continue working on issues related to the NUA, as well as share our distinctive faith perspectives with UN-Habitat and other interested organizations.
OBJECTIVES & OUTCOMES
Religious communities are key stakeholders in the world’s urban future. Although UN-Habitat was open to religious organizations with urban interests and expertize engaging in the Habitat III, participation by faith-based organizations was limited. Consequently, religious communities and organizations–which have a longstanding historical concern, in-depth involvement, and comprehensive understanding of urban contexts were not able to engage with the gaols of the NUA. This therefore limits the faiths’ capacity to help contribute to supporting the issues highlighted by the NUA within their specific community.
The objectives, therefore, of the Faith-Based UTC, are fourfold:
- Religious Reflection and Discussion on the NUA and associated issues. Issues include:
- Religious/theological reflections on cities and urbanism.
- The academy and education/training.
- Food systems (includes the interrelationship between urban communities and places, and rural communities and places).
- Slums/unplanned communities.
- Community development (includes homeless issues).
- Urban design (includes housing and ecological sustainability).
- Land tenure.
- Good governance.
- Data and technology.
- Health and cities (includes violence and safety).
- Youth & leadership development.
- Business, productivity, and economic justice (includes inclusion).
- Arts and culture.
- Compilation and Publication of Statements by Religions or Faith-Based Organizations:
Using the model of the Bristol Faith Commitments developed to facilitate UNDP’s religious engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals by ARC, each religion or faith-based organization will work on their own distinctive priorities, strategies, statements, actions plans, and commitments addressing the objectives of the NUA. This material will be complied into a side-by-side compendium and published in a single volume.
- Action Plans: Develop priorities, strategies, and practical action plans by which each religious community represented can address the issues highlighted by the NUA within their specific community. In addition, explore ways to build bridges to support areas of shared concern around the NUA and associated issues that are ecumenical and multi-faith.
- Mutual Understanding and Collaboration Between Religious and Secular Entities Concerning the NUA: Before religious and secular entities like UN-Habitat can build bridges and collaborate mutual understanding must be established. This UTC is an opportunity for mutual exchange, listening, and learning so a long-term partnership can be developed between UN-Habitat and religions.
Some expected outcomes include:
- Distinct statements by religions or faith-based organizations stating their commitments and action plans addressing the concerns, priorities, and plans highlighted by the issues raised in the NUA.
- Religions or faith-based organizations setting their strategies for developing the capacities and/or networks they need to develop existing work and implement their commitments for new levels and fields of engagement.
- Publicity and educational campaigns related to the issues and concerns expressed in the NUA and action plans/follow-through.
- A published multi-faith compendium of distinctive faith statements, commitments, and action plans addressing the issues raised by the NUA.
In the light of the above conceptual framework we ask each participant who attends this event to prepare in the following ways:
As in invitee we recognize you as a leader within your religious community or faith-based organization, thus we ask you to come pre-prepared in the following ways:
- Have a working knowledge of the NUA (http://habitat3.org/the-new-urban-agenda) and/or The Cities We Need 2.0 (http://www.worldurbancampaign.org/resources)
- Pre-identify your religion’s or faith-based organization’s concerns, priorities, positions, action plans, and capacities related to the issues raised by the Come prepared to share this information, and if possible have the authority to officially and formally represent your faith tradition or organization on these issues.
- We ask you to consult as widely as possible with all relevant sectors of your faith community and/or faith-based organization to ensure all statements, commitments, and action plans have either been agreed, endorsed or appropriately supported by your faith community or faith-based organization.
- Come in order to share areas of expertize you, or your organization have. As the planning process proceeds we will be soliciting proposals for workshops/urban labs, seminars, roundtables, etc., in the above listed sectors.
- Come eager to share your own insights and ready to listen to other insights.
A SUGGESTION: A PRE-EVENT FOR YOUR RELIGIOUS TRADITION
Some religions are organizing a pre-event in Singapore for a few days immediately prior to the UTC for “in-house” dialogue and preparation. We suggest that you may want to do likewise, either in Singapore or another preferred location. If you are interested in hosting, or participating in a preparatory pre-event for your religion, please contact us. As hosts for the UTC we will do our best to connect you with representatives from your own religious communities in Singapore who may be able to assist with planning such an event.
FINANCIAL DETAILS & REGISTRATION
Location: Village Hotel Changi, conveniently located near the airport with complementary shuttle service. The address is 1 Netheravon Road Singapore 508502.
Schedule: Registration opens at 4 PM on Nov 13, 2017. The Program ends late afternoon on Nov. 15, 2017.
Program Fee & Registration: There is no program fee to attend the UTC, however, if you would like to voluntarily donate the per person cost for this event is US$150. Donations of any amount can be made when you register online.
Opening Night Dinner (Optional): There is an optional dinner on the opening night for US$50. Tickets are available when you register online.
Accommodation, Airfare, Meals, and All Other Travel Costs: Delegates are responsible for all these additional costs. We have arranged a special accommodation deal that includes breakfast and wifi at the Village Hotel Changi for SGD $160 superior single bed room/night (plus taxes and fees), and SGD $180 superior twin bed room/night (plus taxes and fees). The current equivalent in US dollars is US$118 for a single and US$132 for a twin bed room (plus taxes and fees).
If you want to take advantage of this accommodation deal please fill in the booking form at this link. Please be prepared to upload a copy of your passport and flight booking confirmation. This will reserve you a room, which you will pay upon arrival. Cancellations must be made two weeks before the event our you will be responsible for any cancellation fees. If you have any questions please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: There is a required $1 registration fee when registering for this event.
We would like to offer you one of the 100 places for this event. Please confirm if you are willing to take up this invitation by October 1st by going to this link to register https://faithbasedutc.eventbrite.com/.
If you have any questions please e-mail email@example.com.