What characterizes a flourishing community? How can capacity for social development be released in growing numbers of participants? How can the efforts of individuals, communities, and institutions best be integrated to achieve tangible progress?
Questions such as these are critical today. Some 70 years after development became a global project, formidable challenges—material, moral, and social—face the international community. One such challenge is the failure to enlist the constructive potential of billions of individuals who have traditionally been excluded from the global development agenda.
“In order to advance the common good, individuals must possess both the capacity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of existing social structures and the freedom to choose between participating in those structures, working to reform them, or endeavoring to build new ones.”
Protagonists of development
Working at the community level, Baha’is around the world are striving to build capacity on larger and larger scales, enabling people everywhere to become protagonists of development. Central to these efforts is the principle that humanity is but one people. Within such a context, development ceases to be something one group of people does for the benefit of another. Instead, all individuals, whether materially rich or poor, young or old, man or woman, engage in a common enterprise of development. All work shoulder to shoulder to contribute to the well-being of the whole.
Collaboration and partnership
These are concepts that the Baha’i International Community works to share in a variety of international fora. We have long been active in the UN Commission on Social Development and the Commission on Sustainable Development, offering substantive contributions and working to provide platforms for collective exploration of relevant issues.
Among our efforts has been a series of monthly breakfast meetings which strive to address practical challenges and potential solutions in an atmosphere of open and frank dialogue. Since 2012 these gatherings have drawn representatives of Member States, UN officials, and representatives of civil society to discuss aspects of the global development agenda and issues of common concern. We welcome collaboration in areas like these.