Nearly one month before the climate talks in Copenhagen begin, a crucial event to reach out to the eighty-five per cent of humanity who follow a religion kicked off in London’s Windsor Castle.
From 2-4 November, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon co-hosted the global gathering of inter-faith leaders: Faith Commitments for a Living Planet. The meeting has important implications for the Middle East where faith plays a dominant role in culture and society.
At the event organized by Prince Philip and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), religious leaders from all the major faith traditions highlighted the earth’s fragility, and discussed initiatives to protect it against the ravages of climate change.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr. Ban stressed that, “without full support and cooperation of religious leaders it will be very difficult to obtain… a binding agreement in Copenhagen”.
World leaders will have a window of opportunity to seal a climate deal in Copenhagen this December, and “negotiations should be firmly supported by global citizens and
particularly when it comes to religious leaders since there are so many followers”, the UN Secretary General added.
According to the ARC, faith-based groups own nearly eight percent of habitable land on Earth, operate dozens of media groups and more than half the world’s schools, and control seven percent of financial investments worth trillions.
The various points of agreement on environmental ethics among the different religions illustrate the potential for the world’s faithful to spur positive environmental practices.
According to the UNEP publication Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action, the world religions condemn greed and destructiveness, and universally urge restraint and protection.
The event launched dozens of long-term commitments by all the major faith traditions including; transitioning to solar-powered Taoist Temples in China; creating faith-based eco-labelling systems in Islam, Hinduism and Judaism and greening all types of religious buildings, among other initiatives.
The event concluded on 4 November – one month before the key climate talks – with a panel discussion titled Many Heavens: One Earth – Faiths, the Environment and Copenhagen.
Participants included intergovernmental organizations and leading practitioners such as Sally Bingham, founder of Interfaith Power and Light and Olav Kjorven, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN.
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