BIC statement to the World Humanitarian Summit calls for community building in advance of disasters

BIC statement to the World Humanitarian Summit calls for community building in advance of disasters

Istanbul—19 May 2016

As the world searches for new ways to respond to the increasing number and severity of natural disasters and other international emergencies, the Baha’i International Community is urging an examination of how community building can improve resilience in advance.

The approach is suggested in a statement to the World Humanitarian Summit, which is convened by the United Nations and scheduled to be held here 23-24 May 2016.

Titled “Rising Together: Building the Capacity to Recover from Within,” the statement offers the experience of the worldwide Baha’i community as an example for consideration.

“Over the past two decades Bahá'ís and likeminded collaborators have worked to establish a worldwide process of spiritual and moral education, open to all,” says the statement.

“Structured in stages to meet the developmental needs of differing ages, this system tends to the moral education of children, facilitates the spiritual empowerment of young adolescents, and allows increasing numbers of youth and adults to explore the application of spiritual teachings to daily life and to the challenges facing society...

“Though such efforts are not focused on response or recovery per se, the abilities they strengthen and patterns of behavior they foster have a profound impact in times of natural disaster. The capacity to organize large numbers into coordinated action provides one clear example.

“As community building efforts grow to the point where hundreds of inhabitants are supporting the participation of thousands of their fellow residents, increasingly sophisticated systems of support and communication emerge to manage the growing complexity. Such structures greatly enhance a community’s ability to undertake large-scale response and reconstruction efforts,” says the statement.

The Summit, an initiative of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, will bring together heads of state and government, along with an anticipated 5,000 global leaders from government, business, aid organizations, civil society and others, to discuss how to effectively respond to major humanitarian challenges – and how to be better prepared to meet challenges of the future.