From late October to early November, SGI co-organized a 3-part interactive online event series “Faiths Unite: Visions for Transformative Climate Action,” together with several faith-based organizations active in the Interfaith Liaison Committee (ILC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The events gathered hundreds of participants from various backgrounds, including faith leaders, scientists, and policymakers.
At the first event “The World We Want,” panelists reflected on what the pandemic has changed and shared visions of the world they want. As key takeaways, Reverend James Bhagwan of the Pacific Conference of Churches (Fiji) challenged the dominant narrative on the climate crisis by saying: “where we speak of death and destruction, we choose to speak life, especially when we come from an area that is deeply affected by climate change.” Mohamed Mohideen, from the Islamic Council of Victoria (Australia), emphasized that together we can achieve more than what we can alone. He highlighted the strength of interfaith collaboration where “we believe in each other, share with each other and come together.”
The second online event “COP26 – Ramp up Ambition!” asked the different panelists five questions related to COP26, including what is important to have on the agenda and what kind of climate actions are needed now. Ovais Sarmad, UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary, emphasized the need for a successful outcome based on leadership and trust between parties and different stakeholders. He also stressed the need to ensure confidence in the multilateral system, linking this to a need for moral and ethical responsibility at all levels. Addressing Nationally Determined Contributions, Sarmad placed a clear emphasis on the need for continued and urgent focus on decarbonization over the next 10 years.
The last event, “Hope for the Future,” gathered speakers from different faith backgrounds and generations around the question of hope into action for the future. Tais Tokusato from the Soka Institute for Environmental Studies and Research of the Amazon (Brazil) shared the activities of the Institute and reflected on how her Buddhist practice enables her to transform her hope into concrete actions for climate justice. She said, “I believe faith-based communities convert hope and so many other important principles for climate justice into concrete actions that impact common people’s daily lives. It is exactly by uniting common people with shared values, such as respect, empathy, and solidarity that a worthy and just future will be built.”