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Education can be a powerful force for good, and diversity is an increasing reality for every society. To foster durable peace, international efforts supporting education must emphasize the benefits of pluralism and the importance of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). While domestic and international rights organizations regularly highlight human rights abuses, governments have often paid insufficient attention to the importance of systematically engaging the mentality that leads to violations in the first place. Promoting appreciation for pluralism and human rights is a long-term strategy to nurture peace and advance fundamental freedoms.

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Making economic growth more inclusive for faith communities represents a key pathway to ensuring better access to economic opportunities. Given that conflicts have impacted on religious communities disproportionately, this chapter describes the work of Community Peace Advocates CPAs in Nigeria. The chapter describes the work of CPAs in developing the skills and abilities of people drawn from the religious communities of the three states – Kaduna, Kano and Plateau – to cooperatively use market spaces, as well as share access to land and water resources, which have often been a basis for conflict between farmers and pastoralists. The CPAs work with religious and other social networks to dismantle the structures of religious inequality by applying collaborative problem-solving approaches to religiously-induced conflicts. The CPAs across Kaduna and Plateau states aim to strengthen the resilience of farmer and herder communities and to promote social cohesion.

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Freedom of religion and belief is crucial to any sustainable development process, yet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pay little attention to religious inequalities.

This book offers a comprehensive overview of how efforts to achieve SDGs can be enhanced by paying greater attention to freedom of religion and belief. In particular, it illustrates how poverty is often a direct result of religious prejudice and how religious identity can shape a person’s job prospects, their children’s education and the quality of public services they receive. Drawing on evidence from Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, the book foregrounds the lived experiences of marginalized communities as well as researchers and action organizations.

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Freedom of religion and belief is crucial to any sustainable development process, yet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pay little attention to religious inequalities.

This book offers a comprehensive overview of how efforts to achieve SDGs can be enhanced by paying greater attention to freedom of religion and belief. In particular, it illustrates how poverty is often a direct result of religious prejudice and how religious identity can shape a person’s job prospects, their children’s education and the quality of public services they receive. Drawing on evidence from Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, the book foregrounds the lived experiences of marginalized communities as well as researchers and action organizations.

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Policies committed to sustainable development, both at the national and global levels, need to support cultural, syncretic and indigenous values and world-views (even around so-called ‘sacred sites and groves’). SDG13 and future policies on sustainable development also need to take into account the loss and damage that has been encountered by marginalized and vulnerable people, largely due to colonialist and extractivist policies on the part of rich and privileged actors and countries. Ultimately pushing for a decolonial and intersectional perspective on climate and sustainability can lead to a greater appreciation of multiple ontologies (including of religious minorities and indigenous peoples) and open up debates and pluriversality. These will not only validate and lift the perspectives of marginalized groups, but will also contribute to achieving climate justice and more sustainable and respectful human nature relations.

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Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, the seventeenth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG17), is arguably the glue for the other 16 goals, for without effective partnerships, it will not be possible to enable the global, regional and local efforts necessary to facilitate investment and implementation of sectoral work to meet the SDGs. The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), formerly the Department for International Development (DFID), has recognized for many years the need for more representative, diverse partnerships and increased localization, which is particularly significant when working on issues of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). The UK Aid Connect programme, which was launched in 2018, was convened around the pillars of innovation and partnership, with the whole impetus of the funding intending to bring together a wide range of different organizations to work together effectively as consortia, understanding that no one organization has all the answers to address complex challenges such as FoRB. UK Aid Connect was also clear from the outset of the need to involve organizations from the countries where the proposed programmes of work were taking place, a crucial measure for legitimate, sustainable interventions.

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This chapter makes the case why rendering visible the developmental inequities experienced by those who have been marginalized on account of their perceived religious affiliation or background, what they hold to be sacred is so crucial for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By rendering visible religious inequality as a dimension of exclusion, we hope not only to highlight that inclusive development remains elusive without the inclusion of the realities experienced by the religiously marginalized, but also, conversely, how the achievement of any development goals – be they the SDGs or a future, post-2030 framework – are enhanced when the resources and repertoires of those same individuals and groups are brought in.

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This chapter explores whether the extended quarantine and poor treatment of Hazara Shia women pilgrims returning home to Pakistan after travelling to Iran in 2020 was due to their identity as Hazaras, an ethnic religious minority which already experiences violence and discrimination in Pakistan. This chapter further explores how the intersection of gender and religious belief enhanced experiences of marginality for the Hazara Shia women, who were kept in poor conditions and with little access to information, essential care or supplies.

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This chapter will explore how being a deaf person who chose to become a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) in Uzbekistan results in double discrimination, based on disability and religious identity. People with hearing impairments in Uzbekistan are already one of the most underrepresented and marginalized groups in the country, due to negative attitudes and a prevailing lack of accessibility. Addressing FoRB for deaf and hard of hearing people in Uzbekistan matters for achieving progress on SDG10. Reducing inequalities based on disability and religion is important for addressing the general inequalities that matter for persons with disabilities, which is particular relevant for the target SDG 10.2.

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When working with communities that have been evicted from protected areas, but still live in close proximity to them, it is important to ask what their traditional beliefs, knowledge and practices are to understand their relevance to biodiversity conservation. They do not only influence illegal access to resources in protected areas, but also sustainable utilization of them. Conservation Biology, a discipline that informs contemporary biodiversity conservation interventions, should incorporate local people’s traditional beliefs, knowledge, norms and practices, given their influence over resource use. This strategy would contribute towards the attainment of SDG15. Drawing on these insights from conservation work with the Batwa in Semuliki National Park in western Uganda, conservation authorities and policy makers should ask: in what ways are conservation efforts likely to be affected by local people’s beliefs, knowledge and practices? How can the beliefs, knowledge and practices of marginalized local people be harnessed to enhance their welfare in tandem with biodiversity conservation? And how can conservation efforts ensure that the rights of local communities to access protected area resources are protected?

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