IFG20 conference features triumphs and challenges recorded by IRUSA staff
By Director Public Affairs Christina Tobias-Nahi
The Interfaith G20 Summit “Time to Heal: Peace among Cultures, Understanding between Religions” took place in mid September in Bologna, Italy and IRUSA was proud to have not only been an advisor to the local organizer of this event FSCIRE (a research institution that publishes, trains, serves, organizes, welcomes and communicates research in the field of religious sciences, with particular regard to Christianity, Islam and the religions with which they have been in contact) but also an active participant at the proceedings that spanned a number of days. Delegates traveling to Italy with all social distancing protocols and with a strict regiment of every other day rapid COVID testing requirements, included members of governments, faith clergy, civil society leaders, academics, youth and others around the SDGs with an objective to make recommendations from a faith lens to Ministers attending the G20 meeting in Rome in October discussing economic stability and the state of the world.
Director of Public Affairs Christina Tobias-Nahi attended the pre event youth summit organized by ACWAY to hear the thoughts of young people of the issues they are concerned with impacting their futures such as climate change and also represented at a 9/11 interfaith event at a historical 8th C. Basilica with other faith representatives including the Cardinal of Bologna where she read a Quranic passage in remembrance of all those who have died around the world in places of prayer and worship.
Additionally Tobias-Nahi pictured below, co chaired with Dr Paolo Nasso, an Italian professor of political science, a panel entitled “A G20 Imperative: Support Refugees and Forced Migrants” which looked at the situation in Lebanon, dangerous water routes of those traveling to Europe fleeing many conflicts, as well as touching upon the Venezuela refugee crisis and the dangerous land routes to the US and finally briefly the Afghani refugees arriving in the US. Another panel that was related and carried on some of these themes was around the still very real and present problem of slavery and trafficking especially of vulnerable women and children with a well known Italian journalist recounting some of the horrors he has reported on along with the testimony of a network of Catholic nuns working hard to rehabilitate survivors.
COVID and the emerging issue of millions of COVID orphans (recently highlighted in a big study in July by the Lancet) was a major cross cutting theme amongst many of the panels as a consequence making children more vulnerable to trafficking, to impacts in educating the next generation where technology access is not equitable, and moreover the inequities also of the vaccine rollout across the globe and how we need to do better in these next months, whatever it takes.
The sessions were held in many historic sites including fittingly the Italian Università di Bologna, the oldest university in the West set up for legal studies (with that in Morocco being the first ever), founded in the Italian city of Bologna in the 11th century.
At the conclusion of the days the handoff from Italy to Indonesia (next years hosts) occurred however due to COVID cases increasing there and subsequent travel restrictions, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas from the Ministry of Religious Affairs had to accept through a virtual recording.
And of course after a week of very deep and serious conversations about the world on the themes of People, Planet and Prosperity, both the challenges faced but the opportunities as well, one can’t leave Italy without experiencing Italy’s famous gelato!
To learn more about the Summit listen to IRUSA podcast from September 22nd in addition to many of the panel recordings and papers which will be posted here in the next weeks: https://www.g20interfaith.org/