Plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.
Address by His Holiness Pope Francis at the opening of the Synod of Bishops, 3rd October 2018
On the 23rd and 24th of October, the UISG Advocacy Forum 2023 will take place in Rome. The Forum is an initiative of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), in collaboration with the Global Solidarity Fund, aiming to stimulate an advocacy and action-oriented conversation to promote and implement sustainable lifestyles, social and economic practices respectful of the needs of the most vulnerable people, and communities guided by spirituality, solidarity and non-discrimination.
Within this framework and as a contribution to the synodal process, UISG and its global network of Sisters will welcome representatives of governments, intergovernmental agencies, Vatican institutions, faith groups, civil society, private sector organisations, academia and the press to share the lessons they have learned from the communities they serve around the world, and the needs they have identified among the most vulnerable people for their full and integral development.
Thus, the Forum is intended to be a platform for the identification of priority areas for national, regional and international advocacy that can lead to systemic change, linking traditional wisdom and spirituality to emerging needs deriving from the rapid transformation of our societies.
Sisters are ready to contribute to systemic change with their experience in a wide range of roles: they are nurses, teachers, engineers and frontline emergency responders, but also researchers, scholars, executives and leaders on every level.
As such, they can bring to the fore a variety of perspectives linking local to global, promoting human dignity through their worldwide presence, and integrating vulnerability in leadership and decision-making through the promotion of a culture of solidarity and encounter.
Through this Forum, Sisters can facilitate a dialogue on the influential role of faith-led action to ensure that local voices, identified through religious engagement, can be effectively brought into global conversations.
OBJECTIVE AND OUTCOMES
The Forum aims to lay the basis for:
• The definition of a roadmap for advocacy towards sustainable lifestyles, a new ecological economy and practices conducive to social cohesion, underling the importance of secular-religious collaboration.
• The sharing of learnings, plans and reflections from work with communities around the world between Sisters advocating at every level and national or international partners, with a view to understanding what initiatives could be replicated and scaled up.
• The establishment of new collaborations laying the basis for a multi-stakeholder advocacy coalition, to support systemic change towards sustainable lifestyles based on an integral approach to spirituality, and on holistic care for all people and our environment.
Lifestyles are based on past and current consumption and production patterns, and are intricately interwoven with people’s everyday choices and practices (Mont, 2007). In modern societies, many lifestyles are unsustainable because of their impact on natural resources, and on people’s health and wellbeing.
Current sustainable action strategies tend to focus on technological innovation or policy solutions to tackle single issues, and are not conceived as systemic actions.
UISG believes it is necessary to understand the context within which different lifestyles operate, and to identify opportunities and ways to drive consumer cultures towards non-material aspirations.
Contemporary societies are becoming increasingly polarised around ideological divides, but also social and economic differences. While diversity is a reality in nature and society, polarisation generates a conflicting aspect to diversity, as it leads to the perception of the other as an opponent, and to a lack of constructive dialogue.
Diversity can become a source for mutual enrichment, if well-managed; social cohesion is a condition of sustainability, as it holds societies together through trust, reciprocity and solidarity.
A strategy for social cohesion must minimise disparities, ensure the welfare of all its members, and tackle exclusion by means of both prevention and cure.
Advocacy is a way to speak out on behalf of people or causes that we stand for, to bring about systemic change. Prophetic advocacy is a mission of Catholic Sisters to address the root causes of injustice, promoting integral human development alongside the integrity of Creation. This mission takes different forms, from education and awareness-raising to campaigning and partnership-building.
Sisters and their partners aim to influence the policies and practices of those in power for the promotion of the common good, in order to build more just and sustainable societies.
Striving for the common good requires an inspirational dimension to engage communities, but also the capacity to impact political action.