Global faith leaders convened in Bali, Indonesia, on November 2-3 for the G20 Religion Forum, or R20, an official event connected with the 2022 G20 Summit.

The G20, or Group of 20, was formed in 1999, with the first annual meeting of leaders from 19 of the world’s largest economies and from the European Union taking place in 2008. The purpose of the G20 is to discuss economic issues and other global challenges.

The 2022 R20 forum was organized by Nahdlatul Ulama, a Muslim organization in Indonesia, and co-hosted by the Muslim World League. Televisi Nahdlatul Ulama, or TVNU, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, published a series of videos from the forum to its YouTube channel, along with photos to its Facebook page.

“This G20 Religion Forum, or R20, is an initiative that comes from a sincere, good, spiritual will … from a sincere concern of all believers of religion, about the future of humanity,” said Yahya Cholil Staquf, general chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board, in remarks at the opening session. “We surely hope that this initiative can further take … an honorable and significant place in the global dynamic in the struggle of humanity to pursue solutions for its various kinds of problems and global dynamics.”

According to an Oct. 31, 2022, report published by the UK-based Ekklesia, the purpose of the R20 forum is “to discuss how the world’s major religions should be involved, if current pressing global concerns are to be tackled in a meaningful way” and to “mobilize global leaders to help ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems, in the 21st century.”

Speaking of the challenges of meaningful and authentic interfaith dialogue, Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Archeparchy of Erbil said: “It is my prayer that the world’s religious leaders will have the courage to address the demons within our communities and the wisdom to choose a path to a far more stable, prosperous and peaceful world built upon respect for the God-given dignity of every human being.”

Spiritual ecology, peaceful co-existence, identifying and embracing shared values, as well as historical grievances, truth-telling, reconciliation and forgiveness were among the focal points in the plenary sessions.

“I have thought long and hard about the challenges facing humanity and the role of organizations such as the G20,” said Yoshinobu Miyake, a Shinto priest from Osaka, Japan. “To date, however, intergovernmental bodies such as the G20 have proven incapable of preventing economic crisis and resolving the deep-seated issues between east and west and between north and south, that means, between the developed and the developing countries. Now is the time for the world’s religious leaders to step forward, address these issues and resolve these conflicts.”

The next R20 gathering will take place in New Dehli, India, the host city for the 2023 G20 Summit.

Another international forum of religious leaders – the 2022 G20 Interfaith Forum, also known as IF20 – will take place in the United Arab Emirates on Dec. 11-13. It was initially planned for Indonesia in November but was moved to the UAE in December so as to not overlap with the R20 forum, according to a press release.

Launched in 2014, IF20 highlights “the vital roles faith and religion play in promoting peaceful and harmonious relationships within and between nations” and seeks to “advance global solutions by collaborating with religious thought leaders and political representatives.”

Five issues will be focal points of the 2022 gathering: economic and financial actions for vulnerable nations and peoples, COVID-19 emergencies, children’s well-being (with an emphasis on education), climate change and environmental concerns, and refugees and forced migrants.

“Interreligious voices and action enrich and embolden the calls to action. This is a Kairos moment, a special time of grace and opportunity that demands urgent and bold action,” a September 2020 G20 Interfaith Forum communique emphasized. “Religious communities working purposefully together, and with governments, parliaments, transnational organizations, women and men, young and old, can and will engage forcefully on global agendas.”

The 2022 forum will be the ninth annual forum, with previous gatherings held in Australia (2014), Turkey (2015), China (2016), Germany (2017), Argentina (2018), Japan (2019), Saudi Arabia (2020) and Italy (2021).

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