The World Zakat Forum (WZF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) to help national and international partners leverage and align new sources of financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Signed by WZF Secretary General Professor, Dr. Bambang Sudibyo and UNDP Indonesia Resident Representative Christophe Bahuet on behalf of UNDP on the margins of the WZF Annual Meeting, the agreement builds on the UN Secretary General’s call-to-action on financing, including through the promotion of new partnerships to unlock Islamic finance for the SDGs.
WZF Secretary General Professor, Dr. Bambang Sudibyo said, “Zakat is a very important instrument because it contributes to poverty alleviation as well as improving prosperity. With its mission to strengthen people’s welfare, the principles of zakat are very much overlapped with the values of the SDGs. The WZF is pleased to enter this key MOU with UNDP, as it paves the way for the effective implementation of zakat for the achievement of the SDG agenda.”
Under the MOU, priority areas for collaboration will be based on the needs and priorities of WZF members and focus on supporting progress towards the SDGs. Forms of cooperation will include joint initiatives to promote effective collection, alignment and distribution of zakat to support the achievement of the SDGs, including helping members measure the impact of their zakat implementation on the SDGs; and joint research projects, trainings, events and communications for WZF members on applying zakat for the SDGs.
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The Islamic Development Bank has estimated that around $500 billion is given in zakat each year globally, and zakat aligns strongly with numerous SDGs, including no poverty (SDG 1), zero hunger (SDG 2), reduced inequalities (SDG 10) and the SDGs’ commitment to leave no one behind. Collaborating with zakat donors and administrators also reflects the spirit of partnership for the goals (SDG 17).
UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner said, “UNDP welcomes this exciting new partnership with the World Zakat Forum, which signals our joint commitment to help WZF members, governments and communities leverage new sources of financing to help meet their development needs. Islamic finance instruments such as Zakat have a significant potential to build resilience, address marginalization and vulnerability when directed towards locally driven programmes promoting social and economic inclusion. This partnership will help to tap into that potential and accelerate progress on the SDGs through the important work of WZF members.”
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UNDP Indonesia Resident Representative, Christophe Bahuet said, “UNDP is present in all OIC countries. With its global network, it’s local knowledge base and its support to the development of Islamic finance, UNDP is well situated to partner with WZF members. Together we can further increase the significant contribution that zakat makes to reducing poverty and achieving the SDGs more broadly, as we are currently doing with our ‘Zakat for SDGs’ projects in Indonesia.”
The WZF’s host Indonesia is a global leader on Zakat for the SDGs. UNDP Indonesia is currently supporting BAZNAS, the national zakat collection agency, to apply zakat funds towards local SDG plans, beginning with renewable energy projects in underserved communities.
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The initial project, launched in 2017, provides electricity to 803 households from four villages in Jambi province, benefiting almost 5,000 people. BAZNAS and UNDP will further the collaboration by implementing a livelihood enhancement programme in Jambi to increase the local population’s income generating capacity. There has also been an initiative to assist disaster-affected communities in Lombok and Palu following the 2018 disaster in the area.