– 28 high-level faith leaders from over 19 faiths and denominations unite to sign a statement seeking urgent climate action ahead of COP28.
– The document, signed at the Global Faith Leaders Summit on 6/7 November in Abu Dhabi, shows commitment from faith groups across the world to take swift and decisive action to address the climate emergency.
– At COP28, the first-ever Faith Pavilion will bring interfaith cooperation to a global stage, to inspire ambitious goals and to call for concrete commitments on climate change.
Abu Dhabi. 8 November 2023
High-level faith leaders from around the world convened to sign a statement of support for urgent climate action at the Global Faith Leaders Summit, organized 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.
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, symbolizing future generations affected by climate change.
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.
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.
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.”
His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, said, “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 Prof. Mohamed Al-Duweini, Deputy of Al-Azhar representing His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb, stated, “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 All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said: “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.”
Grandmother Mona Polacca, Indigenous Leader from the Colorado River Indian Tribe, said: “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.’”
Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders, noted: “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.”
Rabbi David Rosen, International President of Religions for Peace, said: “The climate crisis is also a spiritual and moral crisis, where we need to transform our way of living. As leaders and representatives of world religions, our role gives us a platform and a position to encourage, influence and motivate people, and thereby a responsibility to help guide our communities in how to restore, protect and live in harmony with the natural world.”
Bhai Mohinder Singh, OBE KSG, reminded: “Secular efforts will remain impoverished unless, and until, we join to harness the spiritual potential that lies latent in us. Planetary resurgence involves healing and restoring Mother Earth, degraded and depleted by human attitudes and activity.”
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 catalyzing 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 organizations.