Jun 28, 2017.
Members from more than 15 CCs in several countries such as USA, Philippines, Malaysia, UK, Bosnia, Australia, Nigeria, Israel, India and Nepal, to name a few gathered for a conversation on climate change, last June 8, 2017.
Jointly organized by the URI Environmental Resource Cooperation Circle and URI Global Youth CC, the webinar celebrated World Environment Day by calling on interested members and parties within the URI to discuss climate change and issues such as environmental degradation among others.
The joint webinar, facilitated by Sharon and Katherine, featured three intergenerational speakers who were active in the field of environmental issues within the URI.
The first was Mr. David Randall of Global Healing CC (Multiregion, based in Florida, USA) who shared a case study of how his CC was instrumental in the creation of World Ocean Day. This began in the Earth Summit back in 1992. He stressed on the importance of partnering with different institutions both within the URI and the UN on making it an official celebration. Today, 15 years later, World Ocean day is being celebrated around the world by larger groups. Attention to the ocean is getting stronger and stronger every year. Moreover, issues such as oceans acidification, loss of fisheries, plastic pollution, are being addressed in the UN.
However, an encompassing message that he shared was that “It is only when people connect with what they really love that we see the difference.” The most important thing in an advocacy is to have people connect with nature and to share the message of what we love about nature, and not what we are losing. He said that it is by adapting this framework that we can have long term commitment.
Yonatan Neril from the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development CC in Israel shared next. He shared a poignant metaphor of the collective ship that we are on now. He said that we are heading for a largely invisible iceberg as many will even deny its existence. However, the challenge is for those of us who know that the iceberg is ahead, to take the reigns as the “Captain of the ship” and turn this around. The call of our times is how do we bring religious leaders, who have tremendous media assets, educational institutions, etc, on board the ship.
Aside from this, he said that his CC is currently engaged in bringing in Jewish, Christian and Muslim women, on seminars on Ecology. Their Project called Faith and Science Alliance, brings together scientists and religions to issue joint statements for public events relating to science, religion and climate change. They also have seminary engagement projects as well as eco-tourism in the Holy Land. They hope to spread this message across so that we all can “cross pollinate” and encourage and help each others efforts because we are on this ship together and we need to help each other as much as we can.
Sarah Queblatin from the Philippines was the third speaker for the conversation. One of the hats that she wears is that of an artist. She shared about her projects working on Interfaith and Ecology. Her recurrent thematic theme in her projects (most current is Witnessing Trees) is to create space where we restore what is sacred and connect with the earth.
One of the most powerful experiences she had was during an indigenous ritual during a storm. She believes that Nature is a powerful force and the Elders still have the wisdom to talk to the earth to nourish the plants and provide us. Thus there is a need to balance both. Faith communities have a lot of influence and responsibility as they have the resource, influence and capacity to instigate change. She also encouraged everyone to make a change by further citing that there is such a big population to touch as 8/10 people in the world have a belief. If we harness that as resource and influence, then we can collectively make a difference.
Before closing, several members shared their earliest memory of the natural world. Nostalgic stories from sipping nectar from the plants, playing with mud, to chasing butterflies were shared. The participants through their own experiences showed that nature is a very intrinsic part of living.
With this, the webinar on the topic of the environment came to a close, however the resolve to continue to make a difference was firmer than ever. The conversation and sharing of ideas was inspirational to the participants to work on local projects to strengthen nature in their local communities.
From this meeting of minds, various connections throughout the different CCs were made so that they could further learn from one another and unite their efforts on similar issues of permaculture etc.
The URI Global Youth CC looks forward in continuing this spirit of partnering with other CCs in the URI Network so as to continue to inspire and initiate movements of change across the globe.
Stay tuned for updates on the next webinar session!
*URI Global Youth CC is the connection point for young people involved in the work of the United Religions Initiative: “to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.”
*URI Environmental Resource CC is a satellite group of URI that is made up of CC members, URI affiliates and staff that acts as a resource for environmentally focused CCs throughout URI’s global network.