On May 16, 2023 an international online conference on the theme: “The Role of Religious Leaders in Achieving Sustainable Development of the World” was held within the framework of the current discussion platform “Peace Talks” organized by N.Nazarbayev Center for Development of Interfaith and Inter-Civilization Dialogue.
The event was attended by representatives of state bodies, religious associations of Kazakhstan and the world, participants of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, scientific and expert community, authoritative speakers of international organizations and partners of the Center from Egypt, Israel, Qatar, Pakistan, Great Britain, Russia, and Brazil.
The main objective of the conference is to discuss the special role of religious leaders in achieving sustainable development of the world.
President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stressed the importance of this topic in his speech at the opening of the VII Congress: “Spiritual leaders are the guardians of the conscience of mankind. Therefore, to whom, if it is not for you, to point the way to mutual trust, well and peace. Now more than ever, humanity needs solidarity. To build a new system of international security, we all need a new global movement for peace. I believe that the role of spiritual leaders in this matter is paramount”.
Opening the online conference, Bulat Sarsenbayev, Chairman of the Board of the N. Nazarbayev Center, noted that Kazakhstan is effectively promoting its experience in maintaining interfaith dialogue in the world within the framework of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions: “Humanity is in search of such an optimal model of the world order, in which every state, all cultures and religions would take their rightful place in proportion to the “millennium development goals”. Due to the numerous crises of various nature experienced by the people, the eyes of many people are turned with hope towards the leaders of religious associations and organizations”.
Also, Mr. Bulat Sarsenbayev shared information about the preparations for the anniversary XXI Session of the Secretariat of the Congress, which will be held in Astana on October 10-11, this year under the leadership of the Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan - Head of the Secretariat of the Congress M. Ashimbayev.
In his welcoming speech, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Information and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan Baurzhan Bakirov stressed the importance of dialogue, which is fundamentally oriented towards mutual respect and understanding of the interests of each religion. “Spiritual leaders unite for dialogue the great historical past and present, spiritual and cultural traditions - the basis and foundation for joint efforts to strengthen the world” said the Deputy Chairman of the Committee.
In turn, the Bishop of Episcopal Service in the Anglican Communion Joe Bailey Wells expressed the opinion that “as religious leaders, we could achieve the quality of the relationship that is required to realize the goals of sustainable development of the world”.
Deputy Chairman of the Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan, Naib Mufti Yershat Ongarov delivered a speech to the conference, noting that Kazakhstan, which now lives peacefully in the heart of Eurasia, has become a symbol of spiritual harmony and unity.
Archbishop-Metropolitan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Mary in Astana, Tomas Bernard Peta, drew the attention of the audience to the fact that the role of representatives of religion is to indicate the supernatural power of God, who not only created the world, but holds it in his hands. Economic development itself is not enough; it needs the basis of spiritual values.
As a follow-up to the discussion on key issues, experts discussed the importance of international initiatives by countries in promoting global dialogue among world and traditional religions and expressed the view that those countries should promote interreligious relations and make their fundamental and practical contribution to the promotion of spiritual values.
Following the results of the international online conference, the participants reached an agreement on further fruitful cooperation on the strengthening of interreligious dialogue, the development of appropriate practical recommendations within the discussion platform “Peace Talks”.