(8 March 2019 | Vatican City) Bishop Gunnar J. Stålsett [Honorary President of Religions for Peace] addressed religious leaders and international development experts at the recent convening called by H.H. Pope Francis, “Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Listening to the cry of the earth and the poor.”
On the sidelines of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, top UN officials, religious leaders and environmental experts underlined the role of faith communities in tackling climate change, a phenomenon that threatens to annihilate humanity. The assembly opened on 11 March against the dark shadow of the Ethiopian Airline plane crash. The plane crashed soon after take-off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 persons on board, including Rev. Norman Tendis, a World Council of Churches (WCC) consultant. He was traveling to Nairobi to participate in an event at the assembly titled “Faith for Earth Dialogue.”
CERES Environment Park, in conjunction with Initiatives of Change Australia, are seeking young people with a faith or spiritual practice who are passionate about ecology and environment. There are 10 places available. The program will run from February – August 2019.
In the aftermath of the recent 2018 Parliament of World’s Religions in Toronto, Ontario, Grove Harris reflected on work with women, faith, and eco-justice. Dr. Vandana Shiva was a major speaker for the climate change plenary and a wealth of other sessions. Her expertise and energetic, prophetic, scientific voice moved the Parliament’s climate justice work forward.
GreenFaith is an interfaith coalition that inspires, educates, organizes, and mobilizes people of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds for environmental action around the world. After 23 years in existence, it became clear to our team we needed many more people involved in order to solve the grave environmental crisis before us. We needed people actively engaging with their communities and decision-making bodies about humanity’s relationship with the Earth. It was with this in mind that GreenFaith started exploring opportunities for congregation-based community organizing.
In September 2018, the Bahu Trust in Birmingham, United Kingdom, won ‘Best Green Initiative’ at the British Beacon Mosque Awards. The Bahu Trust represents 22 mosques around the country. Kamran Shezad, sustainability advisor to The Bahu Trust and a member of its congregation, explains the motivation behind moving towards a sustainable model and Bahu Trust’s efforts within both the Muslim and interfaith community.
At a time when Pope Francis is calling upon religious leaders to step up as environmental advocates, Thai Buddhist monks are answering the call. Through rituals like tree ordinations, monks are integrating Buddhist principles into the environmental movement in order to garner support from their followers and encourage sustainable practices.
Although Buddhism is typically a religion famed for its detachment from society, ecology monks believe that their religion is inherently tied to nature. With such an immense amount of influence in villages throughout Thailand, Buddhist monks are utilizing their position to add a unique moral dimension to the environmental movement. However, rituals alone are not enough.
It’s safe to say that prior to November 2017, few Americans – and relatively few people outside the Pacific Islands – had heard of “Talanoa.” Over the past 12 months, however, Talanoa has become central to the ongoing process of United Nations global climate negotiations, and word is starting to get out that this particular framework for dialogue can be effective even when other models have failed. Talanoa’s unique approach of building empathy and common understanding allows participants to share areas of common concern and common aspirations, which in turn opens pathways for identifying steps for future action.
What are our songlines in this time of climate chaos – the songs that call us to battle and navigate us to peace, the chants that bind us together, the lyrics our great grandchildren will still utter, if not our own names? The Climate Justice movement in the US is largely missing this culture, missing the song leaders.
The radical vision of GreenSpirit brings together the rigour of science, the creativity of artistic expression, the passion of social action and the core wisdom that exists within the spiritual traditions of all ages. Attracting those of many faith traditions and none, GreenSpirit is a network of individuals who believe that human life has both an ecological and a spiritual dimension.
It’s not a great time for climate watchers. Last week we read that the increase in greenhouse gas will be 2.7% for 2018, compared with 1.6% for 2017, and no increase the three years before that. The particles in these emissions, such as CO2, are minuscule, and yet the combined weight of this year’s emissions adds up to more than 100,000 times the weight of Empire State Building. The models indicate that, at this rate of increase, some rather dire consequences that were expected for the decade beginning in 2040 will now arrive in the 2030s. That’s 12 years away.
The cycle of life is intricately linked to water. From our first nine months swimming in a womb to our ashes being immersed in a sacred river or scattered across the ocean, from the essential nectar we drink to that which turns apple seeds into apple trees, water is an integral part of our very existence. However, unlike oxygen, which silently, invisibly, maintains the breath in our lungs and the beating of our heart, water is a visible, tangible presence and one with which we interact – directly and indirectly – throughout the minutes of our day and the days of our lives.
On 13 December, Rev. Henrik Grape, coordinator of the World Council of Churches’s Working Group on Climate Change, was the reader of a statement of the faith communities to the high level segment of the of 24thConference of the Parties (COP24) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“We wonder when the leaders of our world will realise how late we have left our response to the climate crisis”, says Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in a letter to the participants of the United Nations climate conference underway in Katowice, Poland.
Tropical rainforests are an irreplaceable gift. Not only do they exhibit nature in its most exquisite beauty, they are planetary life support systems that provide billions of people with food, shelter, livelihoods, medicine and clean water.
Only when we combine our concern for the planet with spiritual practice will we have the tools to make the profound personal transformations necessary to address the coming environmental crisis. Thich Nhat Hanh offers us the guiding principles for a new ecospirituality of mindful living.
Diverse faith and community leaders, climate scientists and doctors joined forces in the heart of Parliament House Canberra to provide an urgent climate briefing to politicians.
Faith-based groups gathered on 2 December, the eve of the opening of the United Nations climate conference, in Katowice, Poland, for an Interfaith Talanoa Dialogue to take stock of the collective global efforts to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.