The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has welcomed the launch last week of the British Government white paper, ‘building our common future’.
The paper which is a rebranding of the goals and objectives of the department for international development (DFID) commits additional support for the world’s poorest people affected by conflict, climate change and the global economic crisis.
The white paper recognises the ‘unique contribution of faith groups’ in delivering development on the ground, in providing advocacy leadership and in connecting communities in the UK and overseas.
The Archbishop said he welcomes the Labour Government’s ‘clear commitment to engage with the distinctive role of faith groups as they maintain their long-held mandate to provide direct assistance to the world’s poorest, while tackling issues of justice, peace and governance.’
Dr Williams said, ‘the department for international development’s emphasis on fragile states rightly highlights the vital contribution of faith groups in areas affected by conflict. Faith communities, including churches, are often the only viable entities in these conflict situations, continuing to respond to basic needs, when other service providers have left. It is essential that DFID’s focus on security and justice in fragile states will be matched by investment in basic services and economic and social development.’
He said ‘the Government’s commitment to provide additional public finance for climate change work is most encouraging. It is hoped that appropriate provision will be made for community based adaptation and climate resilience projects. Such projects, many undertaken by faith based organisations, enable local communities to develop their own green development pathways and thereby have a voice in decisions that shape their lives’.
In preparation for the white paper, Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop convened two inter-faith consultations for DFID and a range of faith communities and faith-based organisations, calling for recognition of the distinctive role of faith groups in international development. The Church of England also made a written submission to the white paper process.
The churches of the Anglican Communion, with 80 million members around the world, have a long track record in relief, development and advocacy on poverty and social justice issues.
The office of the Archbishop notes the white paper’s invitation for new faith partnerships and encouraged by its promise to double support, faith groups will engage with DFID to promote sustainable development that transforms lives out of poverty.