2 March 2024

Religious communities aim to come together as first faith platform opens at COP 28

The faith pavilion has opened at COP 28 in Dubai. Picture: iStock.

Jenan Taylor

4 December 2023

Religious leaders hope a new interfaith venue at the global climate change summit in Dubai will help unite religious communities as they work to curb rising global temperatures.

United Arab Emirates Muslim leaders and the United Nations Environment Program Faith For Earth coalition created the Conference of Parties first ever faith pavilion to be a platform for religious communities to work together for just climate solutions and engage with climate change negotiations.

It came after global faith leaders made a joint commitment to address climate change at Abu Dhabi in November.

UNEP Faith for Earth reported major goals for the COP 28 pavilion included increasing the visibility of religious environmental advocacy, particularly of those faith groups who worked at the frontlines of the climate crisis, and promoting multi faith understanding.

More than 65 sessions will be held at the venue over the duration of the COP, and will include climate response presentations from youth and female changemakers, small holder farmers and Indigenous peoples.

Melbourne Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins will lead a meditation in the faith pavilion on 6 December.

Read more: Faith groups push for climate action in lead up to COP 28

World Council of Churches general secretary the Reverend Professor Dr Jerry Pillay told participants at the Talanoa gathering on the first day of COP 28, that faith communities were at the summit to bring the ethical, moral and spiritual voice on climate change.

“As people of faith, our role is to lift up the voices of the vulnerable and marginalized, who are least responsible for the climate crisis, and to support and empower those most impacted by climate change and who often know best how to build a more climate-resilient planet. This is a matter of justice,” Dr Pillay said. 

Head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis said creating the pavilion showed there was a willingness to work together, and that the world needed alliances that were in favour of everyone, in a video message.

Slated to attend the opening, but unable to do so because of bad health, Pope Francis said it was important that religions were a good example of how to work not for the interests of one party, but for the interests of the world.

“Let us earnestly ask the leaders of nations to preserve our common home. We are invited to do this by the young, the poor, whose prayers reach the throne of the Most High,” Pope Francis said.

To watch or participate in presentations taking place in the faith pavilion, see here.

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