Global Interfaith Youth Activists to Promote Dialogue for Peace Ahead of the G20 Summit

A Common Word Among the Youth (ACWAY) is gathering interfaith youth to discuss global healing at a prelude event to 2021 G20 Interfaith Forum (IF20) meetings.

The biggest challenge young people face is finding a network to support their passion for working with faith/spiritual communities and, concurrently, their aspirations for change....”
— Parth Bhansali
BOLOGNA, ITALY, September 1, 2021 / -- A Common Word Among the Youth (ACWAY), a global youth movement focused on increasing understanding between different cultures and faiths, is gathering interfaith youth from around the world to discuss faith, policy, activism and global healing at a prelude event to this year’s G20 Interfaith Forum (IF20) meetings.

The IF20, which gathers global leaders every year to foster dialogue among faiths and shape the G20 agenda through policy recommendations, recognizes the importance of creating a space for youth voices when confronting global issues and supports ACWAY in its efforts.

Parth Bhansali from the United States, who will participate in the forum, emphasized the importance of including youth, as future leaders, in dialogue—especially in the interfaith sphere:

"The biggest challenge young people face is finding a network to support their passion for working with faith/spiritual communities and, concurrently, their aspirations for change that come with it,” Bhansali said. “Faith leaders with wisdom and experience are constantly talking about how they want younger people to get involved. The problem is that when those young leaders try to immerse themselves into faith-based work, they are told by those same leaders that they don't have enough experience and are brushed off.

“The IF20 and ACWAY provide an incredible solution to this. They help young people meet, brainstorm, and eventually innovate together through a cohesive network that is supported by leaders who have experience to guide and mentor those emerging into the space. This helps build a bridge between the wise and the young, breaking down walls in the process, and gives us the ability to positively propel faith work into the future!"

Tanzila Raza Khan from Pakistan, another forum participant, said an increased understanding of other faiths is crucial to fostering peace:

"Religion is often misused to promote extremism and intolerance, and the targets are young people,” Khan said. “Young people are brainwashed into intolerance towards other religious minorities living in Pakistan. The reason behind this is a lack of access to good mentors and religious leaders who guide the Youth and help them become mobilizers of peace in society. The media is also constantly bombarding us with hate speech and negativity. School text books only provide a mechanical way of explaining religion, without helping us to understand spirituality or the spirit of Faith.”

Three other participants, Abhayjeet Singh Sachal from Canada, Riley Roben Anderson from the U.S. and Nathalie Abdalla from Lebanon, also shared why they see the upcoming forum as an important step in promoting inclusion, fostering peace and finding remedies to the world’s most urgent issues:

“As a Sikh, I recognize how my faith, along with every faith globally, is rooted in the same core values of selfless service and spiritual fulfilment,” Sachal said. “Young people have an opportunity to reframe how the world, especially the younger generation, views faith. We must use faith to unite, and centre our intentions on tackling the world’s greatest challenges.”

"I grew up in a community where the demographic was 90% one worldview. With this, there was a lack of diversity and education on other worldviews. I was completely unaware of any other traditions or worldviews until I was 15, because of my own curiosity,” Anderson said. “I feel as though the biggest challenge young people face when engaging in in faith or spiritual communities is getting a basic understanding or beforehand knowledge of that community. I believe that in school we should be teaching our youth about as many worldviews as possible. This is a first step in creating inclusion and relationships between all worldviews, traditions, and religions.”

"I believe that today we still face obstacles such as prejudices when it comes to sharing our faith and culture with communities that are different from our own, since it may pose a threat to the overall view of religious people or the community itself,” Abdalla said. “At the same time, this creates an opportunity for change and improvement. I am interested in the forum because it uses the experiences of the youth to draw lessons learned from previous conflicts. This opportunity will provide me with a chance to be a voice for the youth of my country as a progressive Arab Woman.”

The G20 Youth Interfaith Forum (YIF20) will be held in Bologna, Italy on September 11-12, and will feature various workshop-style sessions focusing on current youth interfaith efforts, multiculturalism advocacy, social entrepreneurship and more. All youth participants will then attend the main IF20 meetings in the three days following.

About the G20 Process

The Group of Twenty, or G20, is the premier forum for international economic cooperation, bringing together the leaders of Earth’s most prosperous economies. Collectively, G20 members represent around 80 percent of the world’s economic output, two-thirds of the global population and three-quarters of international trade. Throughout the year, representatives from G20 countries gather to discuss financial and socioeconomic issues as well as broader humanitarian issues targeted by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

About the G20 Interfaith Forum

The G20 Interfaith Forum seeks global solutions by collaborating with religious thought leaders and political representatives to help shape the overall G20 agenda. It draws on the vital roles that religious institutions and beliefs play in world affairs, reflecting a rich diversity of institutions, ideas, and values. Through its extensive network of networks, it helps prioritize key global policy goals and point toward practical means of implementation at every level of society.


A Common Word Among the Youth is a global youth movement that brings together young people from a multitude of backgrounds to increase understanding of different cultures and faiths, promoting peace and coexistence by delivering local community activities. Since the organisation’s launch in December 2015, ACWAY fellows have delivered over 200 interfaith and intercultural activities, ranging from educational seminars to peace walks, national conferences and media campaigns.

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Marianna Richardson
G20 Interfaith Forum
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