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"SDGs and the Church" Conference Commenced

The World Council of Churches Armenia Round Table (WCC ART) Foundation, in cooperation with the United Nations Resident Coordinator's Office in Armenia, UNFPA and UNDP Armenia offices and "Brot für die Welt", launched a two-day conference titled "Sustainable Development Goals and the Church." The primary goal of the conference was to discuss the harmonization of the Church activites with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Karen Nazaryan, Executive Director of the WCC ART, Mr. Manoj Curian, World Council of Churches, Mr. Shombi Sharp, the UN Resident Coordinator in Armenia, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary H.E. Mr. Bernhard Matthias Kiesler, Ms. Tsovinar Harutyunyan, UNFPA Armenia Assistant Representative, representatives of international and local organizations, employees of social centers operating under the Dioceses of the Armenian Apostolic Church with WCC ART support, and other guests participated in the conference.

His Eminence Archbishop Arakel Karamyan, Primate of the Kotayk Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, welcomed the participants of the conference after opening remarks and a prayer and noted that buy organizing this conference the Round Table Foundation reiterated its dedication and care for social and educational development topics.

Dr. Nazaryan, Executive Director of the WCC ART, said that it was not a coincidence that the UN Resident Coordinator and Ambassador of Germany are present today. This was preceded by ten years of fruitful cooperation with the UN, in particular UNFPA, and twenty years of cooperation with the German "Brot für die Welt". "Many countries of the world are striving to harmonize their development plans with the SDGs as it is the imperative of time. On the other hand, the United Nations is well aware that closer cooperation with religious institutions and faith leaders can greatly facilitate the implementation of SDGs… Indeed, faith-based organizations and religious leaders are a part of nearly all communities in the world. They not only make significant contributions to the development process, but also add value to the UN's efforts in many ways. Of course, we should concentrate on the SDGs that are priority for Armenia."

His Grace Bishop Mushegh Babayan, Chairman of the WCCART Foundation Board of Trustees noted that the Church had long been implementing projects aimed at overcoming poverty, access to education and community development. "I convey to you blessings and wishes of the Supreme Patriarch for the conference to be succesful, from distant Australia," said His Grace. 

"In the spirit of the World Interfaith Harmony Week observed by the United Nations every first week of February,I truly believe that the Sustainable Development Goals, our road map to a sustainable future for the planet and humanity, find significant reflection in the mission of the Church. We are all walking this path together, and only together can we overcome the challenges we face - whether it be ending poverty and inequality, saving the environment from degradation, or reaching prosperity, peace and justice. As the UN Secretary-General noted, ‘faith is central to hope and resilience’." Mr. Sharp said.

H.E. Bernhard Matthias Kiesler, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Armenia, noted that cooperation with the Round Table Foundation has already become a tradition. "Social Centers with support from the Round Table play an important role in the community's social life, and the Round Table Foundation is already supporting the Sustainable Development Goals." he said.