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Putting faiths' wisdom at the heart of what we do

Five people on a Zoom meeting

Given the size of their influence and the significance of their wisdom and experience, faith-based organisations are key stakeholders in helping to ensure a livable planet for all. How can faiths leverage their position to play a key role in global efforst to address climate change, environmental degradation and sustainable development – with support from the Faith Plans Programme and the Faith for Earth National Coordination Hubs?

That was the heart of the discussion of the Faiths Dialogues session on Tuesday March 1, entitled 'Local Challenges, Local Solutions: Faith Groups for Climate Action'.

If you've not seen it, you can watch it below.

The Faith Plans team joined the United Religions Initiative in collaboration with the UNEP Faith for Earth Initiative, for the online session, with Faith Plans Programme Manager Catherine Devitt moderating it, and FaithInvest's Director of Movement Building, Dr Lorna Gold, taking part as one of the speakers. Other speakers included:

  • Iyad Abumoghli, Director, Faith for Earth at UNEP

  • Daniel Eror, URI Global Trustee

  • Allen Ottaro, Executive Director, Catholicy Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa

  • Lauren Van Ham, URI Climate Coordinator

Lorna Gold highlighted the size of the global faith community: 'There was a statistic doing the rounds at COP26 in Glasgow last year. I heard it mentioned in several different forums: 80% of the world’s population adhere to a faith,' she said. 'That’s six billion people. Faith communities, moreover, own or control 8% of earth’s land mass, 63% of schools in Africa, and are the single largest values based investor group in the world – by a mile.'

These are incredible statistics – but ones that should also trouble us... Despite the incredible work of the la"st few decades, there is still a profound disconnect – Dr Lorna Gold

These are incredible statistics, she added – but ones that should also trouble us.

'All of the major faiths in the world profess a belief or understanding that this earth is not ours to destroy. Each of us, as people of faith, in our different ways and expressed through different concepts and ideas, believes that we have a role to play in protecting and preserving life on earth for all.

'And yet, how is it then that despite this – despite the power of this message across all the faiths – that we are facing ecological destruction? We have to face the fact that these 6 billion faithful may also be contributing to the problem. Despite the incredible work of the last few decades, there is still a profound disconnect.'

This requires a step change how we as people of faith think and act together. We need to act decisively as stakeholders in the future – not only advocates. – Dr Lorna Gold

Lorna went on to describe the work of the Faith Plans programme. 'It is built on the basic idea that faith communities, big and small, need to be facilitated and empowered to reconnect with their profound faith wisdom on the protection of the earth – and how that translates into how they use their assets.

'This requires a step change how we as people of faith think and act together. We need to act decisively as stakeholders in the future – not only advocates.'

You can hear Lorna's comments in full – and those of the other speakers – by watching the session again.

The session was one of more than 25 online dialogues organised by UNEP's Faith for Earth initiative along with a diverse group of faith organisations. They have been running as part of the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (known as UNEA-5), from February 21 to March 4. To find out more visit the Faith for Earth Dialogue page on UNEP's website.


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