Abu Dhabi: Powerful interfaith document promising climate change signed by 28 faith leaders

The COP28 President called the document “a powerful statement of intent that the whole world needs to hear"

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Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Tue 7 Nov 2023, 7:33 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Nov 2023, 9:01 PM

A powerful document by 28 faith leaders, committing themselves to addressing climate change was signed at the Global Faith Leaders' Summit in Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement came after months of collaboration and was signed at the event, which was organized by the Muslim Council of Elders (MCE) in collaboration with the COP28 Presidency, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the UAE Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence.

COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber received the statement as he addressed the summit and promised to carry the message forward to the world at COP28.

At his address, Dr. Al Jaber called the document “a powerful statement of intent that the whole world needs to hear.” It was, he said, “a statement of urgency, unity, solidarity, responsibility and hope.”

Strong message

The Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement “demands transformative action to keep 1.5°C within reach and serve affected and vulnerable communities.”

The signatories acknowledged that as “representatives of diverse faith and indigenous traditions” they were meeting to express “shared concern for the escalating climate impacts that imperil our cherished planet, as well as our common commitment to jointly address the global crisis.”

Dr. Al Jaber said that COP28 was “a moment of truth for the world to align around ambitious negotiated outcomes for every nation, every faith, every community, every family and every single person living on this planet.”

He called for faith leaders to help him “send a message of tolerance, peace, optimism and prosperity from the UAE to the world.”

The COP28 Presidency has developed a four-point Action Plan to keep 1.5°C within reach and ensure nobody is left behind. These four-points are fast-tracking a just and orderly energy transition, fixing climate finance, focusing on people, nature, lives and livelihoods, and underpinning everything with full inclusivity.

Loss and damage fund

The Faith Leaders' Summit came two days after an “extraordinary meeting” in Abu Dhabi around the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund, which will help vulnerable people recover from climate disasters.

“I am pleased to report that we are one step closer to delivering a fully operational fund,” Dr. Al Jaber said, “Parties came together in unity and solidarity to show multilateralism can still work for everyone, especially the most vulnerable.”

A Changemakers Majlis, titled 'Faith and Science: Actioning an Ethic of Care for the Environment' was also held during the summit and united faith leaders, scientists, and decision-makers to foster knowledge sharing and trust-building for a more secure and sustainable world.

Majlis, which is an Arabic term that means sitting room, or a place where people come together to discuss shared interests, serves an important role both in the home and for business meetings in the UAE and the Arab world.

Inclusion

Dr. Al Jaber said that inclusivity would be the defining hallmark of COP28. “We in the UAE know that progress is powered by partnership, and that success is secured through solidarity. That is why I am so grateful for today’s declaration.”

The Faith Leaders' Summit was convened under the patronage of UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and was attended by several leaders, academics and environmental experts including Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence; His Eminence Professor Mohamed Al Duwani Deputy of Al Azhar Al Sharif representing His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmed Al Tayed, and His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, representing His Holiness Pope Francis.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres gave a video address.

In his role as COP28 President Dr. Al Jaber met with Pope Francis in October and discussed the role faith communities can play in addressing climate change.

During COP28 the Presidency will co-host the Faith Pavilion, with MCE and UNEP, marking the first-ever pavilion of its kind at a COP event. The Pavilion will be dedicated to the engagement of faith communities and will showcase 'the Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement for COP28'.

The Faith Pavilion will host panels with religious leaders, scientists, and political leaders, as well as encourage intergenerational engaging dialogue young faith leaders and indigenous representatives.

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