Event, Jan 29: Can Interfaith Collaboration Contribute to Climate Justice?

Ahead of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, Sapan invites you to a panel discussion ‘Can Interfaith Collaboration Contribute to Climate Justice?’ on 29 January 2023.

While communal rifts are among the most persistent of Southasia’s problems, an even graver problem stares us in the face today – climate emergency. It is imperative that while continuing to work towards communal harmony, we find ways to address the larger, global problem. 

Intersectional work on religion and climate has been an emerging field at the global level, with major religious leaders stepping up to take on climate advocacy. Increasingly, international faith leaders such as the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis have been urging people to take responsibility for our common home, our planet. Others like Rabbi Yonatan Neril have become full-time interfaith environmental advocates, founding organisations like the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development.

Even the UN has joined hands with faith-based organisations such as the World Council of Churches to augment climate action, and has started its own Faith for Earth Initiative under UNEP (United Nations Environment Program). 

International organisations such as Green Faith, Eco Sikh, and Green Muslims are pressing on with organised programming around faith-based climate justice, while closer home, Sikh faith leaders like Balbir Singh Seechewal and Baba Sewa Singh in India are individually leading the way with exemplary reforestation action.

More recently, ahead of the COP27 in Egypt, the Interfaith Liaison Committee, a platform co-chaired by the World Council of Churches (WCC), organised a dialogue through which many faith-based organisation (FBO) partners were able to relate to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change during the climate-change talks. Southasian representation was missing at the interfaith table.

Yet, Southasians are undoubtedly among those whom religion impacts the most. As does climate change. Does it not make sense then to leverage the forces of faith to fight the crisis of climate? 

Towards this end, Southasia Peace Action Network will host a virtual panel discussion on 29 January 2023, ahead of the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week in February 2022.

Title: Can Interfaith Collaboration Contribute to Climate Justice?

Date: Sunday, 29 January 2023

Time: 10 am ET, 3 pm GMT, 8 pm PKT, 8:30 pm IST/SLST, 8:45 pm NPT, 9 pm BST

The meeting will be broadcast live on Facebook at this link.

Led by Urmi Chanda, an interfaith research scholar from India, the diverse panel comprises Southasian faith leaders (Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.) who have been associated with some form of environment activism, as also scholars and activists who work in this domain. 

The panel discussion will bring up key questions like:

  • What from our faith traditions/ scriptures might we constructively use to create urgent awareness and encourage action in faith communities?
  • What are the best ways to incorporate a climate justice discourse with the faith discourse, and how can we get more faith leaders to come on board and ACT?
  • What are the ways in which climate activists and faith leaders can work together?

Panelists:

  • Saima Nazir, educationist and spiritual coach, Lahore, Pakistan 
  • Dr. Surendra Man Bajracharya, Buddhist scholar, Lalitpur, Nepal 
  • Peter Jacob, interfaith and rights activist, Lahore, Pakistan 
  • Sidharth, artist, Delhi, India 
  • Swami Shivanand Saraswati, Matri Sadan, Haridwar, India (Save Ganga activist) 
  • Syed Salman Chishti, Sufi faith leader and climate advocate, Ajmer, India

See detailed bios of participants bios online here


Note on Southasia as one word: Following the lead of Himal Southasian, Sapan uses ‘Southasia’ as one word, “seeking to restore some of the historical unity of our common living space, without wishing any violence on the existing nation states”. Writing Sapan like this rather than all caps makes it a word that means ‘dream’.

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