As the world lurches from crisis to crisis, global leaders ignore the vital role of religious and spiritual communities in addressing them at their peril, a new report has suggested.
The Faith in Action report notes that some 85 per cent of the world's population adheres to a religious or spiritual tradition, and that many faith groups are collaborating effectively with businesses and other stakeholders to address key economic, environmental, geopolitical and technological challenges.
"Global leaders cannot afford to ignore the impact of religion and spirituality on today's interconnected challenges," the report says.
"For most of the world today, religion and spirituality continue to inform what a good life is and how to best think about the challenges faced by families, nations and the world.
"For global leaders, underestimating the ongoing influence and role of religion in society can lead to missed opportunities for greater positive impact in multi-faith societies and significant oversights in understanding how religion and spirituality interact in the complex societal challenges happening today."
The report says there should be "greater recognition" of the benefits of working with faith actors who are able to mobilize vast networks and draw on their global influence.
The report was produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in collaboration with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace, the World Evangelical Alliance, Bhumi Global, and the Council for Inclusive Capitalism.
It highlights examples of innovative faith-based partnerships and celebrates global leaders who are already "going beyond basic faith literacy and applying their strategic, contextual understanding of faith communities and traditions to achieve meaningful engagement and impact through partnerships".
The report encourages global leaders to increase their "faith fluency" and explore "meaningful cooperation" with faith actors "at a time of deepening polarization and distrust in societies".
"Faith fluency – the ability to apply strategic, contextual understanding of faith communities and traditions for meaningful engagement and impact – is critical for leaders from government, business and international organizations," it says.
"It is worth noting three fundamental factors that illustrate the enduring power of religion and spirituality – community, creed and citizenship – and why faith fluency is critical for global leaders.
"Understanding these diverse religious trends is crucial for business leaders, as these trends significantly influence global market dynamics, shape consumer and voting preferences and play a key role in determining the cultural competence required to operate successfully in diverse markets.
"Religion and spirituality also influence media consumption patterns and shade the contours of which messages people listen to and from whom."