Each year, the G20 Interfaith Forum (IF20) seeks global solutions by collaborating with religious thought leaders and political representatives. This year, ACWAY, as the global youth partner to IF20, is organizing the G20 Youth Interfaith Forum (YIF20) in Bologna, Italy. The Forum will be co-hosted by Fscire in partnership with the G20 Interfaith Forum Association, and in collaboration with several partners including The Stirling Foundation, We the World, KAICIID Dialogue Centre, Religions for Peace, United Religions Initiative, and The Parliament of the World’s Religions.
The YIF20 theme for this year is “Interfaith as Activism, Dialogue as Healing”. Through this youth-focused forum, ACWAY hopes to continue creating spaces for interfaith practitioners to come together to share ideas, experiences and opportunities to engage in promoting and solidarity among diverse faith and philosophical communities.
Over 5 years ago, since its launch in December 2015, ACWAY fellows have delivered over 200 interfaith and intercultural activities, ranging from educational seminars to peace walks, national conferences and media campaigns. ACWAY has organized five forums to date: four in-person international forums in Morocco, Australia, Sudan, and Azerbaijan and one online international forum for the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week in February 2021. Our ACWAY network has conducted activities in numerous sectors and fields, including – social inclusion, refugee/migration issues, using sports as a tool for youth development, and more – all of which have directly served and impacted over 1700 beneficiaries.
We reference the above because we recognize the strength and power of the rich diversity of the ACWAY network. The depth of youth representation at our in-person forums is a value in our work and our approach. Over the past few months, we have been closely monitoring COVID-19 guidelines and quarantine restrictions in regards to our host country of Italy. Due to the growing challenges facing the spread of COVID-19 and the delta variant and rapidly shifting quarantine laws that vary by country, we are saddened that we will be unable to convene our full network of active fellows during our September event.
While we may not be able to bring all of our active fellows together in-person, we are grateful to have the opportunity to convene a smaller group of fellows this year in advance of the G20 Interfaith forum. Representation is an important value for us, and as such, we are committed to harnessing the diverse voices of our ACWAY network through the following commitments:
- Use Convening As an Advocacy Tool: You spoke, and we listened. We are committed to using the YIF as a key policy moment, fueling station, and accountability mechanism. This gathering will focus on building concrete commitments made around the G20 Policy Agenda, with a focus on intersectional, youth voices – informed by the grassroots work in our own communities.
- Center Diverse Voices: We are committed to centering diverse voices at the YIF, including those who cannot physically be present. We have convened a diverse and dynamic planning team for the event, who represent 10 countries and 5 faith traditions as part of the ACWAY Network. We are also committed to leaning on the diverse, intersectional identities from our network of global partnerships, who are assisting us with co-creation of this event, building accessible and inclusive spaces, power-sharing, and power-shifting to bolster diverse-centered programming.
- Set Goals and Concentrate on Impact: We are committed to setting clear and quantifiable goals at the YIF to support our policy recommendations and implementation plans. We will commit to greater accessibility, intersectionality, and inclusivity for current and future ACWAY programming – including the conceptualization, development, and execution of the gathering, as well as furthering our expansion in virtual programming.
- Provide Space for Learning and Connection: At YIF, we will create a space for young people to share challenges, opportunities, and top priorities for advancing interfaith and intercultural cooperation in their communities. We will tap into our network to ensure that breadth and depth of experience is present, as highlighted in the case studies and specific workshopping sessions. We are committed to providing a space for learning new tools and building new connections with our interfaith network.
We look forward to sharing more information in the upcoming weeks, and are hopeful that we will have the opportunity for our full network to come together once it is safe to do so in the future.