Ottawa, 27 October 2011 — The Bahá’í Community of Canada has joined dozens of other faith communities and leaders in calling for new approaches to address the challenge of climate change. This initiative is among the first to bring together such a large and diverse number of religious leaders to speak with one voice to an issue of social concern.
Released on October 25th, the Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change says, “the growing crisis of climate change needs to be met by solutions that draw upon the moral and spiritual resources of the world’s religious traditions.”
The declaration calls for “a cultural transformation that brings the values of sustainability to the forefront of public consciousness – and into more responsible practices.” Religious leaders said, “we cannot wait for others to act but instead must lead by example.”
From Sunday October 23 to Monday October 24, faith leaders, politicians and members of the public gathered in Ottawa to engage in a panel discussion and national dialogue on climate change.
Responding to the Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change, participants discussed climate change as a symptom of a spiritual crisis, the values necessary for a sustainable economy, the challenge of climate justice, and the policy goals to be adopted by leaders in advance of the upcoming climate change negotiations in South Africa.
Speaking on a panel of religious leaders, Susanne Tamas, Director of Government Relations for the Bahá’í Community of Canada, asked participants to view climate change as the outward sign of an imbalance between our spiritual and material ecosystems.
“Underlying a culture of consumerism are concepts concerning human nature, justice, and power that are at odds with the teachings of the world’s religions,” she said. “Religion can help to reframe our understanding of the nature of the challenge of climate change and the approaches and methods we use to address it.”
A Bahá’í youth, Alicia Cundall, also spoke on a panel that explored what faith communities are doing to promote climate justice. She said that climate justice must involve bringing excluded voices – such as those of children and youth, especially those from countries most affected by climate change – into the policy discourse, a goal she pursued as an organizing partner of the youth caucus at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development from 2008-2010.
These events were organized by The Commission on Justice and Peace of The Canadian Council of Churches through a collaborative interfaith committee on climate.
Access reports on related side events at the web site of the Canadian Council of Churches: http://www.councilofchurches.ca, which included presentations by IEF member Alicia Cundall, Susanne Tamas, and a devotional program organized by the Bahá'ís as part of the plenary program.
From Canadian Bahá'í News Service http://www.bahainews.ca/