Moral & Spiritual Imperative to End Extreme Poverty
New York – Leaders of the world’s foremost faith organizations gathered today to send a loud and unique signal of solidarity in order to end global poverty as a unified force. From India, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram and Co-Founder, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary-General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance were invited and requested to speak on the auspicious occasion.
The gatherings, hosted by the World Bank, United Nations and Faith-Based Organizations including the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, signified a landmark moment in the United Nation’s 70-year history, in which multi-lateral organizations and faith based organizations came together to join hands in making concrete plans for the eradication of extreme poverty and inequality.
As a lead-up to the meeting, in the spring of 2015, the World Bank brought together senior religious representatives to bring forth a document titled “The Moral Imperative,” which outlined the crucial role and responsibility of faith leaders in eradicating extreme poverty. This was followed in July by a two-day high-level conference on Religion and Sustainable Development with World Bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim at which Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati were also delegates,.
At today’s meeting, the assembled declared the importance of the faiths coming together if the glaring issues of world poverty are to be solved and the soon-to-be-launched Sustainable Development Goal agenda may be met.
Every day, some 1 billion people go to bed hungry. 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to sanitation.
Said Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Co-Founder, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, “Our being together, here and now, represents a great threshold of history. Right now, this very minute, hope is in our hands. We commit to ending extreme poverty by 2030 because we recognize the world is one family, we recognize that the same Divine Spirit flows through us all, we recognize that we cannot worship the creator without protecting the creation.”
Said Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, “We have worked together, across all boundaries and borders of race and religion, for the last 15 years to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Through your commitment, dedication and concerted effort, much has been accomplished. However, there is still much to do. It is a time for celebration, but not a time for complacency. It is a time for renewed commitment – commitment to the SDGs, commitment for the present and the future of our planet and all of our sisters and brothers with whom we share it.”
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati also led a pledge of solidarity in which all the leaders stood and held hands as he spoke, “We are united by love for humanity and our commitment to serve humanity. Together we will eradicate poverty. Together we will ensure that our global family has access to water, sanitation, hygiene, health and education. Together we will have faith, and together we will BE faith. Together the world will change.”
Leading the prayer for eradicating poverty and inequality, Sadhvi Bhagawati Sararaswati said, “Let us join together, in heart, mind, intention and action; let us pray and serve together so that all of our brothers and sisters of every culture, every country, every color and every creed are free from the scourge of extreme poverty and inequality.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati also shared about the great success of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance’s programs at the recent Kumbha Mela in Nasik, with tens of millions of devout Hindu followers. The programs brought together revered heads of the various lineages within Hinduism and, for the first time in history, focused on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and ending open defecation in India where approximately 1200 children under the age of five perish every day due simply to lack of water, sanitation and hygiene.