Religious leaders and World Bank commit to ending extreme poverty

WASHINGTON — A group of diverse religious leaders has issued a statement giving strong support and “moral consensus” to a World Bank-initiated effort to end extreme poverty in 15 years.

The statement, “Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative”, was released today at a media teleconference featuring World Bank President Jim Young Kim and representatives of the religious groups which drafted it, including Bani Dugal, the Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“Ending extreme poverty will require a comprehensive approach that tackles its root causes – including preventable illness, a lack of access to quality education, joblessness, corruption, violent conflicts, and discrimination against women, ethnic minorities and other groups,” said the statement, whose authors included representatives of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh faiths.

“It will also call for a change in the habits that cause poverty – greed and hedonism, numbness to the pain of others, exploitation of people and the natural world,” said the statement.

Ms. Dugal said Baha’is were happy to participate in the initiative and to endorse the statement.

“In general, faith has the capacity to tap the deepest reservoirs of human motivation and therefore release the collective will and raise the consciousness of the people, in a way that brings the moral dimension of poverty to the fore,” said Ms. Dugal.

“In the Baha’i view, individuals have a responsibility to assist the poor, but societies and their institutions are responsible for creating the conditions where poverty can be eradicated.

“Efforts to fulfil that responsibility and to promote the well-being of all have been blocked largely by the pursuit of self-interest and overall disunity that sadly seems to characterize many of our individual and institutional pursuits today.

“What is needed is a new vision of society where cooperation is the dominant mode of social and economic interaction, and where recognition of our underlying oneness and interdependence is firmly upheld,” said Ms. Dugal.

Read more at http://news.bahai.org/story/1049

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