G20 Interfaith Forum 2019: Japan

Tokyo Bay and Rainbow Bridge from Odaiba


The G20 Interfaith Forum for 2019 will be held in Japan, in relation to the meetings of the international "Group of Twenty" (G20) Economic Summit, to convened 28-29 June in Osaka.

The G20 Interfaith Forum offers an annual platform where a network of religiously linked institutions engage on global agendas (primarily and including the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs). The annual G20 Summits are a critical time and place where priority global issues are considered. The G20 process has evolved since it was established in 2008, with various platforms (ministerial meetings, engagement groups) where different sectors present ideas and recommendations to global leaders. The G20 Interfaith Forum builds on the vital roles that religious institutions and beliefs play in world affairs, reflecting their rich diversity of institutions and ideas. These include interfaith and intercultural organizations, religious leaders, scholars, development and humanitarian entities, and business and civil society actors.

Beginning in Australia in 2014, the G20 Interfaith Forum has convened annually in the G20 host country. It has considered wide-ranging agendas, including economic models and systems, the environment, women, families, children, work, humanitarian aid, health, education, global security, governance, human rights, and the rule of law. Forum agendas are framed taking into account the annual G20 priorities (shaped each year by the host government), together with topics that the various networks of religious actors recommend that the G20 leaders address. The recommendations of the 2018 G20 Forum, held in Argentina, are summarized here.

The sixth annual G20 Interfaith Forum will take place in Tokyo, Japan beginning June 7, 2019.  Details on location and specific timing are being worked out.  The Japanese government has announced that the agenda for the 2019 Summit will highlight issues for environmental action, aging societies, trade imbalances, disaster response, health, and world peace.

The theme for the 2019 G20 Interfaith Forum will build on the goals of equity and sustainability that have linked prior events. The agenda and prior preparatory work will address issues on the Japanese agenda as well as certain issues of continuing concern to Forum participants. The 2019 Forum will reflect the central importance building bridges around culture and the arts. Topics to be emphasized will include health, children, environmental action, food security, disaster relief and humanitarian response, action on refugees, good governance and fighting corruption, the role of women, challenges facing the aging, and engagement between states and religious communities.

The Forum 's goal is to contribute meaningful insight and recommendations that respond to and help shape the G20 and thus global policy agendas. The effort demands careful processes that draw both from analysis and experience and from the collective wisdom of widely diverse religious and cultural communities. These processes include continuing task forces and robust dialogue during the Forum.

The 2019 G20 Interfaith Forum is organized by the G20 Interfaith Forum Association, working closely with Japanese partners. A broad range of collaborating institutions have joined in Forum efforts over time.  (See https://www.g20interfaith.org/content/2018-collaborating-institutions) . The governance structure of the G20 Interfaith Association and its Executive Committee are set out on the G20 Interfaith Forum website (www.G20Interfaith.org).

Key organizers and funders of this year’s Forum include:

  • International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS), Brigham Young University, USA 
  • Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue, Griffith University, Australia
  • Religions for Peace
  • Community of Sant’Egidio
  • International Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development
  • Joint Learning Initiative
  • UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Sustainable Development

The 2019 G20 Forum will, as in the past, engage leaders from different sectors. That will include senior political leaders, religious leaders, scholars, business people, and those involved in humanitarian and development work on the ground. The Forum will explicitly bring in cultural dimensions, especially insofar as they contribute to understanding and to social cohesion. It will involve discussion of facets of Japanese values that might enrich discussions around the global agenda.