Faith in Development and the 2030 Agenda

The motto of SMC is “Faith in development”. Niklas Eklöv, head of policy and learning at SMC, highlights three main aspects borne out of having faith in development. These aspects are key to understanding the role that faith based actors play in working towards the 2030 Agenda.

– The 2030 Agenda and the global goals for sustainable development encourages our common vision to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, fight injustice and save our planet for future generations. We have faith that a better world is possible, and that every person and every nation can and should contribute to this development, says Niklas Eklöv.

“Faith in development” also encourages anyone who wants to work with development to understand that faith matters.

– You need an inclusive and broad approach to understand who faith based actors are and what role they play, explains Niklas Eklöv.

Faith is not only for the religious

Every human being has ideas, views, perspectives of existential nature: Who am I? Why are we here? Is there a meaning in life? These aspects shape the way people view the world and behave. On a structural level in society there are cultures, norms, values and beliefs systems that could promote or hinder development efforts. Many of them are religious in nature, but not all. Understanding the different dimensions of faith is therefore essential.

Religious literacy is essential to understand development

At SMC we call this competence “religious literacy”. Religious literacy helps to avoid two prominent risks: either neglecting religious actors and beliefs or overemphasising them. Religious literacy is about “right-sizing” faith as a factor in development.

Lastly, faith is not something static. The way religions are being interpreted or faith traditions are contextualised is changing. Faith in itself is in development.

Learn more about faith based actors’ work with the 2030 Agenda

Read more about faith based actors involved in promoting the 2030 Agenda and why secular actors choose to cooperate with faith based organisations when implementing strategies to do their part of the 2030 Agenda in our article: Partnering with Faith Actors to Achieve the 2030 Agenda.


The photo is taken in South Sudan where the SMC through its member organisations work with faith in development.