THE GLOBAL international development sector spends well above US$ 600 billion annually, and faith-related agencies such as Christian Aid, World Vision, Tearfund, Islamic Relief, the Aga Khan Development Network and CAFOD are reported to be among the biggest NGOs driving transformational action for the world’s poorest peoples.   

However, in an era of growing humanitarian needs, increasing environmental and biodiversity crises and tighter aid budgets, the international development sector is under pressure as never before. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as conflicts and growing climate change adaptation costs have all increased demand for assistance, just as tighter foreign aid budgets and greater fiscal austerity means less funding is available.

Now, leading faith-based development agencies, NGOs and global business networks – which together manage nearly £600 billion worth of funding – are coming together to discuss new and innovative ways of funding development in a conference in London on 15 May, co-hosted by Christian Aid and FaithInvest.

The conference – held during Christian Aid Week and titled Investing in a Liveable Future: Investment, Faith and Development – will explore opportunities for business and development agencies to work more closely together, using investments as an effective tool, alongside philanthropy, to fund a just and sustainable future for people and planet.

As well as key faith-based NGOs such as, Islamic Relief, Christian Aid, Tearfund, CAFOD, and organisations such as Friends Provident Foundation and Vita, which together spend around £673 million on development and humanitarian work annually, the conference will also be attended by progressive business networks managing around, which are looking to assist the faiths in transformational action.

FaithInvest CEO Martin Palmer said: “An astonishing amount of funding for global development is provided by faith-based development agencies. Their contribution to poverty alleviation, sustainability and environmental action is a hidden fabric that holds together communities around the world.

“This event is designed to explore a growing area of interest, that would complement traditional funding such as grants and charitable giving, by looking at the potential for some of the billions of dollars that NGOs spend in grants to be invested in initiatives that can benefit people and planet and support the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Patrick Watt, CEO of Christian Aid, said, “Christian Aid’s vision of a world free from poverty  has animated our work for over 75 years. This vision is only achievable where markets deliver for people in poverty, and for society at large, by generating decent work and sustainable livelihoods.

“Christian Aid believes that poverty eradication requires innovative partnerships between civil society organisations and the private sector. Private capital and socially conscious business have a critical role to play in building a just and sustainable future for people and planet. That’s why we launched the Salt Network. We are delighted to be co-hosting this event with FaithInvest.”

As well as the challenge of growing humanitarian needs amid tighter aid budgets, the UN says the world is not on track to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in 2015 as a call for action to end poverty and bring about lasting peace and prosperity for people and the planet . The funding gap to implement the SDGs is estimated at US$ 3.9 trillion in 2020, according to the OECD .

For these reasons, there is growing interest in how business and philanthropy can work more closely together and whether alternative funding options such as blended finance could attract private finance to fund initiatives with strong social and development benefits.

Blended finance is the strategic use of development finance to mobilise additional funding for sustainable development . As well as enabling projects to be launched that otherwise might be perceived as being higher risk, these sorts of instruments can also enable projects to become financially sustainable – which in turn enables communities to be self-reliant, rather than dependant on continued charitable giving.

* More about the conference, Investing in a Liveable Future: Investment, Faith and Development, which takes place at the Methodist Central Hall in London on Monday 15 May here.

* Journalists interested in attending, please email [email protected].

* Source:.Christian Aid