On Monday 9 January 2023, the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies (CHS) organised a roundtable on "Islamic Social Finance for Sustainable Development". The roundtable discussion involved participation by academics from various universities and research centres in Norway and Qatar, including the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), the University of Oslo, and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). They were joined by representatives of Qatari humanitarian and development organisations including the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities (RACA), the Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS), and Qatar Charity (QC).

The focus of the discussion was to explore questions emerging from a collaborative international research project led by three Norwegian academics, namely Dr. Kaja Borchgrevink at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Dr. Gina Lende at MF - Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, and Dr. Arne Strand at Ch. Michelsen Institute (CMI). The project titled "The Power of Ideas: Muslim Humanitarian Actors and the Sustainable Development Goals (HUMA)" focuses on the intellectual variables of the Islamic development module, with respect to its social finance dynamics, and the factors influencing partnership between development actors in light of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 on partnerships.

During the session, participants exchanged their experiences, opinions, and knowledge about Islamic social finance, with a focus on the Qatari model, and its role in humanitarian action and sustainable development. The discussion included brief interventions from various participants reflecting on Islamic social finance in various social contexts, such as Nigeria, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Participants also focused on the structure of the Islamic social financial system – sadaqa (charity), zakat, and waqf (endowment). Discussion also addressed the possibilities of the contribution of Islamic social finance in achieving the global goals of sustainable development and the challenges of doing so, including lack of trust, efficacy issues, and mismanagement of funds.

Issues pertinent to the Arab and Islamic world were also discussed, including policies followed in the distribution of Islamic humanitarian aid to both Muslim and non-Muslim beneficiaries, in addition to the translation of global norms of sustainable development into localised and regionalised concepts. The discussion also addressed global issues, such climate change and its impact on water security and refugees, considering the growing intensity of international conflicts.

The roundtable was concluded with various discussants posing further questions and ideas going forward.

For more information about the roundtable, please contact us at chs@chs-doha.org