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9.11.23

Ecumenical Patriarch: We need to build a society that flourishes in harmony with the Earth

The need for the creation of a stable mechanism between representatives of religions, science, and society, aiming at co-creation and joint action in the interrelated areas of justice, sustainability, and development, was stressed by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in his address on Monday, 6 November 2023, to the World Conference of Religious Leaders, held in Abu Dhabi, ahead of the COP28 International Meeting on Climate Change to be convened in Dubai in early December.

Speaking in English, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said that through this mechanism it is possible to turn strong intentions into real action, and stressed the importance of working together to find solutions that will restore the balance of nature, “in order to build a society that will flourish in harmony with the Earth that sustains us all.”

After the Ecumenical Patriarch’s speech, the Minister of Tolerance and Co-operation of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Nahan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, warmly and cordially congratulated him, while the representative of the Pope of Rome, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the representative of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Professor Mohamed Al-Duweini, among others, greeted him.

In the afternoon of the same day, in a special outdoor ceremony, the Religious Leaders signed a Joint Declaration in favour of the protection of the natural environment, which was delivered to Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the Emirates, President of the upcoming COP28 meeting, to present it in December to the political leaders of the participating states.

Address by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Conference “Confluence of Conscience: Uniting Faith Leaders for Planetary Resurgence” 

(Abu Dhabi, November 6th, 2023)

* * *

The Compass of Conscience: 

Guiding Moral Action in a Warming World

Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Esteemed audience, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We gather here in Abu Dhabi amidst a moment of collective awakening, in order to discuss solutions to interlinked global crises under the banner of “Confluence of Conscience.” All of us present recognize that our planet is imperilled as never before by environmentally hazardous human activities. Our faith traditions share core teachings on the spiritual responsibility to care for God’s creation. Our sacred texts command us to protect our common home. There is no higher calling than preserving the sanctity of life in our planet and the conditions that make human development possible. We must bring the full weight of our moral authority to bear on igniting society’s environmental consciousness.

In this spirit, guided by our shared spiritual values, we endorse the following principles and goals: 

All life is interconnected. Humanity depends on nature. We must restore Earth’s equilibrium.

Those least responsible for ecological breakdowns have to be supported. Historical injustices must be rectified. 

Science and faith both offer wisdom to address this crisis. Dialogue and collaboration is necessary between them.

We have a common duty to empower grassroots networks to take action. Change must involve all of society.

Policymakers have an obligation to adopt bold programs for climate action and biodiversity protection, ensuring a just transition.

Religious and indigenous communities offer ancient wisdom on living sustainably. Their voices can help guide society’s transformation.

Distinguished guests,

On the 50th anniversary of the historic Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the world still remains in crisis. But transformation is possible through ceaseless cooperation. Partnership is the new normal! As never before, diverse groups align to safeguard civilization and planetary health. By walking hand in hand, with hope as our compass, we embark on an unprecedented yet essential journey where faith, conscience and action converge. 

To sustain collaboration between diverse faiths and partners in science and society, we have to establish an ongoing mechanism for joint reflection, advocacy and action on the linked challenges of justice, sustainability and human development, translating powerful intentions into meaningful impacts. Together we are greater than the sum of our parts. Guided by timeless wisdom yet open to new solutions, we will restore nature’s balance, in order to build a society that flourishes in harmony with the Earth that sustains us all.

Thank you for your kind attention and may God bless you and your noble endeavors!

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