It is our pleasure and privilege to invite you to join us for two back-to-back events–the Urban Shalom Forum: The Gospel and the Future of Cities, Nov. 10-13 in Singapore, and immediately following this event the United Nations Human Settlements Programme’s first ever Faith-Based Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC), Nov. 13-15, 2017, also in Singapore. At the UN’s invitation, the purpose of this second gathering is for communities and organizations of different faiths to make a significant contribution to the work of 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 the Christian church has a 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 their insights and perspectives on cities, and extended a hand of goodwill to help contribute to the common good of placemaking.
How did we arrive at this particular historic moment where religions and faith-based organizations are being encouraged to deeply examine the global trends affecting the future development of cities; articulate a response grounded in one’s specific religious beliefs, values, and traditions; and encouraged to engage with UN-Habitat on the basis of those convictions?
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 stated from a Christian perspective, places that are commensurate with God’s shalom for flourishing.
Because cities significantly impact the ecological integrity of creation, the most important everyday intersection between peoples’ lives and creation is where they live. Encouraging the Christian community, therefore, to contribute to designing and building sustainable and Shalom-infused cities, towns, and neighbourhoods is part of the leadership mandate of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)-Creation Care Task Force.
With this understanding and vision, the WEA-Creation Care Task Force actively participated in UN-Habitat’s three-year civil society consultation process leading up to, and including, Habitat III. During this time organizations who shared God’s passion, love, and holistic understanding of cities–Micah Global, the International Society for Urban Mission (ISUM), and the Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network)–came together to form the Urban Shalom Project (USP).
This led the WEA and USP to apply, and be approved to host a World Urban Campaign Faith-Based Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) so we could continue to work on issues related to the NUA and share our distinctive Christian perspectives with UN-Habitat and other interested organizations.
In accordance with the purposes and spirit of the United Nations, the Faith-Based UTC is not only an opportunity for those from the Christian faith to engage with UN-Habitat, it is an opportunity for a multi-faith dialogue on the future of cities–which is something all religious communities have a common stake in.
As hosts of the UTC, we see our role as one of service. Essentially this means issuing the general call for convening a faith-based UTC and organizing the venue space and loose structure for the multi-faith dialogue. We do not presume to know how other religious communities or faith-based organization may want to prepare for this UTC, however, we are encouraging religions and faith-based organizations to convene in Singapore for “in-house religious dialogue” immediately prior to the UTC to prepare to participate as effectively as possible in the UTC.
For the Christian community we are organizing the Urban Shalom Forum (USF): The Gospel and the Future of Cities immediately prior to the UTC as the venue for our “in-house dialogue” and organizing leading into the UTC. Both these events, the USF and UTC, are described in more detail below.
ONE EVENT WITH TWO PARTS
Conceptually this is an invitation to one event comprised of two parts.
The first part from Nov 10-13, 2017 is the Urban Shalom Forum: The Gospel and the Future of Cities. The purpose and design of the Urban Shalom Forum (USF) is to be a global working gathering of Christian urban leaders to prepare for the upcoming UTC.
The second part is the UN Habitat Faith-Based UTC from Nov 13-15, 2017. The UTC is a multi-faith event, and it will use a model for multi-faith engagement developed by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) for the 2015 Bristol Faith Commitments pertaining to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Using this model the UTC will publish a side-by-side compendium of commitments and long term strategic plans each individual religion, or faith-based organization, is willing to develop and execute related to the goals of the NUA.
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–lag in their understanding of the significance of the NUA for the global common good. Moreover, religious communities currently have limited capacity to help contribute to supporting the issues highlighted by the NUA within their specific community.
The purpose of part one, or the Urban Shalom Forum (USF), is to articulate denominational and/or faith-based organizational positions, strategies, and agendas on urbanism and the NUA, and to help foster relationships and develop collaborative networks before going into the UTC. We are inviting Christian leaders who have deep experience and expertise in the following urban sectors to attend both these events. These sectors generally correspond with core issues addressed in the NUA.
- Theology of cities and urbanism (including the Church, mission, evangelism, spiritual formation, etc.).
- The academy and education.
- 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.
Leadership teams with global representation are being assembled for each of these sectors. These leadership teams will develop the content, programming, and outcomes for their sector, and will collaborate with overlapping sectors where appropriate.
In addition to sector related work through workshops/urban labs, seminars, roundtables, etc., there will be joint sessions and plenaries.
The objectives of part two, i.e. the UTC, are fourfold:
- Religious Reflection and Discussion on the NUA and associated issues:
- 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 that are ecumenical and multi-faith.
- Mutual Understanding and Collaboration Between Religious and Non-Religious Entities Concerning the NUA: Before religious and non-religious 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 NUA.
- Religions or faith-based organizations setting their strategies for developing the capacities and/or networks they need to follow-though and implement their commitments.
- Publicity and educational campaigns related to the NUA and action plans/follow-through.
- A published multi-faith compendium of distinctive faith statements, commitments, and action plans addressing 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 an 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 Come prepared to share this information.
- 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 prepared to share any area of expertize you, or your organization, may 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.
FINANCIAL DETAILS & REGISTRATION
Part One: Urban Shalom Forum: The Gospel and the Future of Cities (Nov.10-13, 2017)
Location: 360–yes, that’s the name of the venue. 360 is located near downtown and right opposite the Singapore Botanical Gardens, making it very convenient for amenities such as bus and metro stops, dinning, etc.. 360 is located at 360 Dunearn Road.
Schedule: Registration opens at 4:00 PM on Nov. 10, 2017. The program ends at lunch time on Monday, Nov. 13.
Program Fee: US$100. Includes all workshops, plenaries, meetings, etc..
Accommodation, Airfare, Meals, and All Other Travel Costs: Delegates are responsible for these additional costs. For basic accommodation we recommend the YWCA Fort Canning Lodge located at 6 Fort Canning Rd. where we have arranged an accommodation deal for three nights (including breakfast) for a TOTAL of SGD $375 for a single room (which at the current exchange rate is US $276), or a twin bed room (you can choose your own roommate on the registration form if you’d like) for SGD $202.50/US $149 (inclusive of fees and taxes).
If you want to take advantage of this YWCA 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. You will be responsible for any cancellations. If you have any questions please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Part Two: Faith-Based Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) (Nov. 13-15, 2017)
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. This is also payable 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 (inclusive of fees and taxes).
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 email@example.com
If you have any questions please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.