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Interfaith dialogue prior to COP25 calls for unity, action to confront climate crisis

Interfaith dialogue prior to COP25 calls for unity, action to confront climate crisis

Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

03 December 2019

Representatives from multiple faith and religious backgrounds came together in Madrid, Spain on 1 December to find common ground in preparation for the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) 25 in Madrid, Spain.

The event, entitled “Interfaith Dialogue for Hope and Action,” was organized by 10 different faith-based groups from multiple traditions and hosted at the Iglesia Evangélica Española, a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Nearly 100 participants took part, with representatives from Chile and Spain, as well as from around Europe, Latin America, North and South America, Africa and Asia.

Participants broke into small groups to engage in the Talanoa Dialogue, a process designed to help countries implement and enhance nationally determined contributions to combat climate change by 2020.

Overwhelmingly, the groups reported back about the dismal situation for communities and environment around the world due to climate factors. Many groups also commented on the lack of political commitment and action from governments to confront climate issues.

The vision for where the groups want to go is towards a just, sustainable, vibrant, resilient world, where human rights and the environment are respected.

Participants called for unity and action from faith-based communities. Recognizing the importance of interconnectedness, community, participation, mobilization and collaboration, the groups called for transformation of all sectors from education to the economy.

Valeriane Bernard from Brahma Kumaris led an inquiry-guided reflection, asking each participant to share what they bring to the climate change conversation as a person of faith. Responses included “faithful witness and advocacy,” “moral leadership and prophetic voice,” “speak truth to power always,” and “hope.”

The evening closed with an interfaith service, putting into practice a sense of community, unity, shared togetherness and commitment that interfaith groups envision as the path to fair and effective climate action.

The event was co-organized by the World Council of Churches, ACT Alliance, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Dominicans for justice and peace, Franciscans International, Greenfaith, Grup de Treball Estable de Religions, Islamic Relief, Lutheran World Federation, Quaker United Nations Office.

Read the WCC Executive Committee "Statement on Climate Change Emergency" (25 November 2019)

"A holistic approach to climate change" - WCC news release 3 December 2019

Learn more about the WCC work on Care for Creation and Climate Justice