In the last couple of years, faith based organisations have played a critical role in contributing to civil society's momentum in urging for action on climate change. The importance of faith-based organizations taking a prominent leadership role in influencing policy has become clearer and there has been a noticeable increase in the number of religions at the local, national and international levels addressing climate change as a moral issue, in particular to show solidarity to those most vulnerable. At the international level, there is an Interfaith Liaison Committee with the UNFCCC Secretariat.
At the same time, more governments and the UN are recognising the importance of engaging with religious and faith based organizations in addressing climate change, as they are connected to the grassroots, as well as to leaders.
Listen to a news clipping that highlights the Pope's encyclical and reactions from people like Naomi Klein.
Learn more about the positive impact that faith based organisation are contributing to, as explained by Sister Jayanti of Brahma Kumaris.
2) Faith Statements
Almost every religion has issued a climate change statement.
Some key faith statements on climate change (2014-2016) include:
The Earth as Witness: International Dharma Teachers’ Statement on Climate Change, 8 January 2014
Falling in Love with the Earth: Thich Nhat Hanh’s Statement on Climate Change for the United Nations, 2 July 2014
Sikh Statement on Climate Change, 18 September, 2014
Interfaith Summit Statement, 21 September 2014
Catholic Bishops’ Statement in Lima on the Road to Paris, 9 December 2014
Lambeth Declaration 2015 on Climate Change, 16 June 2015
Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, 18 June 2015
The Islamic Climate Change Declaration, 18 August 2015,
The Statement of Faith and Spiritual Leaders, 20 October 2015
Appeal to COP 21 Negotiating Parties (Presidents of regional Catholic Bishops´ Conferences), 26 October 2015
The Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders, 29 October 2015
The Hindu Declaration on Climate Change, 23 November 2015
The Interfaith Statement to World Leaders, 18 April 2016
A more detailed list can be found here.
3) Climate Change Petitions
In addition to Statements, last year over 1.8 million people worldwide put their names to a collection of faith-based petitions urging political leaders at the COP21 climate summit to take decisive action to curb global warming and deliver a strong, fair deal that helps poor countries adapt to their changing climate. The petitions were presented to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and President Hollande on 28th November and 10th December 2015, respectively. See more information here
The Interfaith delegation with President Hollande, 10th December 2015. Credit: Sean Hawkey/WCC
4) Climate Justice Pilgrimages: In 2015, there was 431 faith led pilgrimages for climate justice in Asia, Africa, Europe and USA. Collectively, pilgrims walked hundreds of thousands of miles to raise awareness on the impacts of climate and to urge world leaders to produce a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, December 2015. Click here to see a video of a very catchy and uplifting climate pilgrimage song, Tayo Tayo.
Message for Earth Day, 2016
An expedition of Argentinian explorers (led by Fundación Criteria) is marching towards the North Pole carrying a Laudato Si’ encyclical and a Global Catholic Climate Movement banner calling on world leaders to “PROTECT OUR CLIMATE & OUR COMMON HOME”. - See more here
6) Prayer Vigils: In monasteries, churches, mosques, Guadwara and temples, on streets and town halls, hundreds of candle-lit vigils took place around the world in 2015, demonstrating a display of hope and compassion for the future of our planet. See more information here
Candle light vigil - Philippines January 2015. Credit: Globalissues.org
We all come from different faiths, but we breathe the same air, we share the same trees and we live on the same earth with all species. See below for some interfaith prayers on caring for creation.
Pope Francis' prayer intention for Creation, February 2016: "That we take good care of Creation, a gift freely given, cultivating and protecting for future generations." See video here.
Click here to read a Du'a written by Imam Zaid Shakir - Co-founder of Zaytuna College
- Click here to read Interfaith Prayers for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
- Click here and see below Sea Prayers with the theme of 'Raise Your Voice Not the Sea-Level'
7) Fasts for the Climate: Fasting has been part of faith traditions and justice movements from the Hebrew prophets to leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi and Cesar Chavez. In 2015, thousands of people from around the world fasted either once a month, or during Lent to stand in solidarity with those already affected by climate change and to tell world leaders that they need to do more to solve the climate crisis. See more here and here.
8) Capacity Building - Training and Education
Education on climate change not only informs us about the science, the risks and impacts of climate change, but protecting the planet is a moral and ethical imperative and taking action can help us improve the world around us and protect the most vulnerable. We all need to reduce our GHG emissions, the use of plastic and paper, water consumption, consumption in general, use more public transport, plant trees, turn off unnecessary lights and put profit before good.
Many faith group organise conferences, workshops, seminars and webinars to help raise awareness on climate change and identify priority actions on climate change for which faith communities can engage in.
9) Interfaith Collaboration
The importance of collaboration among religious groups in addressing challenges of climate change is vital and the Paris Agreement creates a wonderful opportunity to mobilize young leaders of diverse faiths on climate change. We can all benefit from their enthusiasm, as well as connecting with each other and share our resources to deepen our work.