Religion is a major cultural, social, political, and economic factor in many official development assistance (ODA) recipient countries.Understanding religious dynamics and the role of faith communities and actors is crucial for sustainable development. While faith communities have endured and thrived the world over, a wave of modernist, secular social change has dominated development practice and discourse from the second half of the 20th century onwards. It had been previously anticipated by a number of scholars, development practitioners and others that religion would become outdated and eventually obsolete. However, faith communities, actors and assets continue to occupy a critical space. Accordingly, development discourse and practice today acknowledges the significant role that religion plays in this area. Greater portions of development aid are now channelled via faith-based initiatives/organisations, and religion is increasingly recognised as a resource for –rather than as an obstacle to–development. Many faith actors have also been involved in shaping development policy as well as committing to the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), codified by the UN.


The research project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK, and run by SOAS and University of Leeds in partnership with HAD International R&D. The Keeping Faith in 2030: Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals held three workshops to understand how faith actors shape development policy.

Workshop reports:


More information, including the final report and other relevant resources, can be accessed on the network website:

Following the events, the final project report with findings and policy/practice recommendations was launched at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Faith and Society in the Houses of Parliament, Westminster on 13 February 2019. Read the policy paper below on findings from the research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

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