High-level faith leaders from around the world have convened to sign a statement of support for urgent climate action at the Global Faith Leaders Summit, organised by the Muslim Council of Elders in collaboration with the COP28 Presidency and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
Over 200 participants – faith leaders representing the world’s major religions, academics, climate scientists, youth activists and Indigenous representatives – attended the two-day global summit in the lead-up to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) taking place in Dubai.
They highlighted the ethical duty of faith communities and political leaders to address the climate crisis with full responsibility.
‘This summit is a historic opportunity for us religious and spiritual leaders to do as the great Indigenous Lakota Chief Sitting Bull said in his infinite wisdom, ‘Let us put our hearts, minds, and spirit together to see what life we will give to our children.’
GRANDMOTHER MONA POLACCA
Indigenous Leader from the Colorado River Indian Tribe
During the summit, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message: ‘This gathering comes at a critical moment for humanity and the planet we call home. We need the moral voice and spiritual authority of faith leaders globally to summon the conscience of world leaders, awaken their ambition, and inspire them to do what is needed. The path is clear. The time is now.’
‘As our world inches closer to irreversible climate damage that can only be addressed through collective effort, the Faith Pavilion at COP28 comes at a critical moment where scaling up climate action in all sectors of society, eradicating climate change ignorance, and raising awareness of environmental issues have become imperative.’
JUDGE MOHAMED ABDELSALAM
Secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Elders
The Summit included the signing of the Interfaith Statement on Climate Action Towards COP28 –harnessing the collective influence of religious representatives to inspire humanity to advance environmental justice, in recognition that the vast majority of the global population identifies with a religion.
The statement was signed by faith and spiritual leaders representing Anglicans, Bahá’is, Bohras, Buddhists, Catholics, Coptic Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Evangelicals, Hindus, Jains, Jewish peoples, Mahikaris, Mandaeans, Protestants, Shia Muslims, Sikhs and Sunni Muslims.
It was presented to the faith leaders by a child from the United Arab Emirates, symbolising future generations affected by climate change.
‘Our planet is imperilled as never before by environmentally hazardous human activities. Our faith traditions share core teachings on the spiritual responsibility to care for God’s creation. We must bring the full weight of our moral authority to bear on igniting society’s environmental consciousness. All life is interconnected. Humanity depends on nature. We must restore Earth’s equilibrium.’
HIS ALL-HOLINESS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW I
Rooted in the principles of justice, causing no harm and fostering peace with all living beings, the statement issues a resolute call to action directed at heads of state, governments, civil society, and business leaders.
It impels urgent responses, including the acceleration of energy transitions, transition to circular models of living in harmony with nature and rapid adoption of clean energy.
‘We gather here at this summit as a prelude to COP28, with hope that it will distinguish itself from past conferences by achieving more substantial outcomes through cooperative efforts with all sectors, including faith-based communities, to become more proactive and pragmatic in addressing the impacts of climate change.’
HIS EMINENCE PROF. MOHAMED AL-DUWEINI
Deputy of Al-Azhar representing His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb
In the statement, the faith leaders also committed to supporting the Faith Pavilion at COP28 and convening in future COPs to inspire hope and action.
This year’s COP28 will be the first ever to have a dedicated Faith Pavilion and faith leaders are set to address the conference including His Holiness Pope Francis. The first-ever Faith Pavilion at COP28 will be a pioneering space designed to be the focal point for fostering meaningful interfaith collaboration and engagement, with the goal of catalysing effective and ambitious climate action.
It will create an opportunity for dialogue with religious and Indigenous representatives, scientists, young people, and political leaders to accelerate climate action. The Pavilion will host over 60 sessions, representing over 100 organisations.
‘The scientific community has made it clear that we need an urgent change of direction. The climate crisis, which has deep ethical roots, is an alarming and clear example of a failure of conscience and responsibility. Its powerful effects are being felt even now – especially by those peoples that are most vulnerable. The real enemy is irresponsible behaviour.”
HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN
Vatican Secretary of State