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Origins and History of One World Week

One World Week (OWW) was founded in 1978 by the NGO which was then called the World Development Movement (renamed Global Justice Now in 2015) out of a desire that, for one week in every year, the churches should draw the attention of their communities to the fact that the world consists of one human family which shares one planet in which all may enjoy fullness of life.

Growth and Development

Over the years OWW has broadened its approach to include people from all backgrounds. In a series of projects funded by the European Union (Voices from the South) and the UK Department for International Development (Reaching Out and Reaching South, ‘ROARS’), OWW focused on incorporating the perspectives of people from developing countries though providing mentors (from the diasporas) to local OWW organising committees and involving people from varied ethnic and religious backgrounds in planning and writing resources.

OWW has become known throughout the UK. It has represented the UK in the European Global Education Week Network. OWW has developed an international reputation for bringing people together: to learn about global issues and to take action locally on things which have an impact on the whole world. One World Week now involves people of many nationalities and has events all the year round, but there is still one week in October (the week containing United Nations Day, 24 October) when the excitement is greater than at any other time.

Thousands of local organisations and schools use OWW as a focus for a range of activities, events and celebrations to raise awareness and take action on issues of global justice. Each year resources (including resources for schools) have been produced and identified, (formerly by a small central staff, now by volunteers) around a particular theme. The theme, chosen by Trustees in consultation with partner and other National NGOs and with local organisers, aims to inspire and assist the local activists. (From 2007, resources including links to those of other organisations, have been available only on the website). OWW is constantly reaching out to new groups from different faiths and cultural backgrounds in the UK and beyond. We now estimate that almost half a million people each year will take some part in One World Week.

Since 2006

OWW became an independent Charitable Company at the beginning of 2006. It is a development education charity; it is non-political and non-sectarian. OWW's Vision, Mission and Aims emphasise the importance of working inclusively with everyone to address global and local challenges to achieve justice, peace and sustainability for all.

Recent Projects were designed to respond to Britain's richly diverse cultural landscape in which most of the major cities in particular had organisations addressing inter faith issues and racial equality networks. Some local One World Week events already embraced the opportunities this offered for mutual understanding and developing shared values to address the challenges facing us all.

In 2007-8 an interfaith training project, Building Bridges, funded by the government's Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund produced some useful models. These can be seen in the Case Studies pages here

OWW Dundee

In 2011 OWW completed a 3-year project funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development, entitled ‘Ubuntu’ (the ancient Bantu (Zulu) word meaning 'active togetherness'). OWW worked initially with Islamic Relief and Muslim Aid to encourage the second largest faith group in the UK, the Muslim community, to become more involved in OWW activities, with the intention of involving more faith communities in the later stages of the project. The handbook "Piecing together One World" was the outcome. 

Recent Activity

In 2010 OWW launched its strategy for the five years up to 2015.  A key vision was that by 2015 people would be working together to build a just, peaceful and sustainable world.  This remains the target for 2019 in an updated strategy for 2016-19.

OWW has taken a proactive role in building relationships with other NGOs involved with funding projects overseas, education, campaigning, environmental and human rights issues. This work continues with an intensified focus on developing relationships with more organisations involved in the area of refugees and building an inclusive society.

Recent Annual Reports can be seen here