Bologna Interfaith Charter: Living Our Values, Acting for Our Common Home – Should we be saying and calling for more?

In the Bologna agreement as people of faith we made a number of strong and important statements, including the following, but do we need to say more?  And more clearly/definitively, such as:  we must get off of fossil fuels now, or stop allowing new fossil-fuel vehicles for transportation in rich countries in the next few years?  What do you think?

  • As representatives of the world’s largest religions, we share a sacred commitment to protect the environment and a moral responsibility to hold nations, corporations, and communities accountable for how they treat the planet
  • We acknowledge “the scale and pace of harm” and that climate change and environmental destruction represent a grave threat to global development and human security as the mounting ecological crisis is inextricably linked to the global problems of poverty, migration, and unrest.
  • We are the last generation who can turn this crisis around before it is too late. At the same time, implementing climate change solutions creates new opportunities to improve human well-being and promote a more just economy.
  • The dominant development paradigm, which has been built on fossil fuels and the unsustainable use of natural resources, has both caused and accelerated global warming and pollution.
  • We all have injunctions to care for and protect the environment and ensure that our actions do not harm future generations. As our faith traditions affirm, the earth is not a commodity but rather a gift that we are called to sustain and safeguard for the sake of future generations.
  • Countries that have emitted the most carbon dioxide as well as those with the greatest wealth are morally obligated to take the lead in climate protection… transforming their economies and helping those who are worst affected and most vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation.  There is (also) an urgent need to build resilience in vulnerable communities, to address climate induced loss and damage, and to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by scaling up climate finance, technology, innovation and green competitiveness.
  • (We have to be willing to take on opposition from those interested in short-term gain). The world can no longer afford the politics of delay. We desperately need both courage and foresight that prioritizes long-term sustainability.  As Dr. Martin Luther King prophetically proclaimed over fifty years ago, “we are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency.
  • This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” It is not too late to limit the rise in global temperatures to below 1,5/2C by the end of the century, but it will require making the necessary investments in climate solutions and the political will to put in place transformative policies such as eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, putting a price on carbon, supporting climate-friendly agriculture and land-use, and building more resilient and efficient cities and communities. 
  • With the dramatic decreases in the cost of renewable energy due to innovation, building a sustainable economy represents both the moral and the economically smart path forward.
  • Now is the time to transition the world to a low carbon, resilient and sustainable economy.

As representatives of the world’s largest religions, we share a sacred commitment to protect the environment and a moral responsibility to hold nations, corporations, and communities accountable for how they treat the planet. We have come together on the eve of the 2017 G7 Environment Ministers Meeting to redouble our collective resolve to protect the planet and to call upon leaders of the G7 to provide bold and decisive action to combat climate change and promote environmental protection. This Charter builds upon previous interfaith and individual statements from a diverse number of religious bodies across the world.

The Bologna G7 Environment Meeting is taking place at a moment of both great peril and great promise. With the Paris Agreement in danger, we must do everything possible to ensure its successful implementation. Due to the scale and pace of harm that has already been inflicted upon our planet, we are the last generation who can turn this crisis around before it is too late. At the same time, implementing climate change solutions creates new opportunities to improve human well-being and promote a more just economy.

Climate change and environmental destruction represent a grave threat to global development and human security as the mounting ecological crisis is inextricably linked to the global problems of poverty, migration, and unrest. Already the world has witnessed more frequent and intense droughts, floods, and natural disasters, along with the rise of sea-levels; with the most vulnerable and poor being hit the hardest. The dominant development paradigm, which has been built on fossil fuels and the unsustainable use of natural resources, has both caused and accelerated global warming and pollution.

Overwhelming scientific evidence warns us that climate change is human-caused and will have increasingly devastating consequences without ambitious mitigation to reduce the rise in global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. We are anxious to engage in constructive dialogue with those who remain skeptical, including some within our own communities.

Our sacred texts and religious teachings are replete with injunctions to care for and protect the environment and ensure that our actions do not harm future generations. As our faith traditions affirm, the earth is not a commodity but rather a gift that we are called to sustain and safeguard for the sake of future generations. Averting our mounting ecological crisis will require both personal and spiritual conversion. Wherever politics fail, we will continue to change hearts and minds to generate the will and urgency to act. We will further utilize our pastoral, theological, and spiritual resources to educate, inspire and mobilize greater personal and communal commitment to care for and protect our planet. Our religious convictions and teachings can also shape new models of sustainable development that are rooted in social and ecological justice.

We welcome the Agenda 2030 as well as the Paris Climate Change Agreement as critical global frameworks for action. Countries that have emitted the most carbon dioxide as well as those with the greatest wealth are morally obligated to take the lead in climate protection. As a result, G7 countries have a historic responsibility and opportunity to lead by example in transforming their economies and helping those who are worst affected and most vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation.

Concretely, there is an urgent need to build resilience in vulnerable communities, to address climate induced loss and damage, and to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by scaling up climate finance, technology, innovation and green competitiveness.

We, as faith leaders and faith-based organizations, stand in solidarity with people and communities all over the world who are affected by the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation and commit to galvanizing greater awareness and action that promotes more sustainable consumption and lifestyles and protects our natural environment, both on land and water.

In Laudato si’, Pope Francis reminds the world that by “taking up these responsibilities and the costs they entail, politicians will inevitably clash with the mind set of short-term gain and results, which dominates present day economics and politics. But if they are courageous, they will attest to their God-given dignity and leave behind a testimony of selfless responsibility. (Laudato si’, 181). The world can no longer afford the politics of delay. We desperately need both courage and foresight that prioritizes long-term sustainability.

As Dr. Martin Luther King prophetically proclaimed over fifty years ago, “we are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency.

This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” It is not too late to limit the rise in global temperatures to below 1,5/2C by the end of the century, but it will require making the necessary investments in climate solutions and the political will to put in place transformative policies such as eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, putting a price on carbon, supporting climate-friendly agriculture and land-use, and building more resilient and efficient cities and communities. With the dramatic decreases in the cost of renewable energy due to innovation, building a sustainable economy represents both the moral and the economically smart path forward.

As religious and faith-based organization leaders we stand ready to work with G7 governments and publicly support your vigorous and positive action to combat climate change and protect our planet for this and future generations. We recognize and celebrate the commitments and actions already put forward by individuals, businesses, cities, and regional governments.

We hope this Charter leads to greater dialogue and action that can strengthen a growing Interfaith movement to combat climate change and protect the planet. We will be watching, working and advocating to ensure that great progress is made between now and when the G7 reconvenes in Canada in 2018.  Now is the time to transition the world to a low carbon, resilient and sustainable economy.

Bologna, June 9, 2017

LAUDATO SI PER LA TRANSIZIONE ENERGETICA E UNA FINANZA SOSTENIBILE, organized by FOCSIV together with the Italian Bishop Conference and the Diocese of Bologna. Both Mons Zuppi (Archbishop of Bologna) and Gian Luca Galletti (Minister of the Environment) underlined the importance of the Laudato Si’ impact for the Paris Agreement and renewed the commitment of Catholic Church and Italian government for the climate justice. The event hosted the launch of the Italian version of the EcoParishGuide, with the evidence of the Italian Dioceses of Como and Trento, addressing local parishes and communities to put the Laudato Si’ in practice. A first initial introduction in the issue of the sustainable finance was given by the presentation of the campaign #DivestItaly and by the presentation of renewable energies projects to be financed in vulnerable communities in Tanzania. The President of the Italian Federation of Evangelic Church delivered to conveners the commitment of the Federation to divest.  The session in the afternoon was totally dedicated to the issue of sustainable finance and divestment. Livio Gualerzi, responsible for the management of financial resources of the Italian Bishop Conference said that the Italian Bishop Conference is already investing according to ESG criteria trough MSCI Morgan Stanley Capital International. He said that since there isn’t an energetic alternative the Bishop Conference hasn’t thought about divestment but it is engaged and desirous of being coherent with ethical catholic principles. All speakers from financial actors considered divestment from oil and other fossil fuel as crucial.

– LA TAVOLA DELDIALOGO DI BOLOGNA. CONFRONTO INTERRELIGIOSO SULLA CUSTODIA DEL CREATO PERUNA CARTA DEI VALORI E DELLE AZIONI (Interfaith Forum on Environmental Protection) (June 9), organized by Earth Day Italia in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of the Environment and the Connect for Climate Group of the World Bank.

The morning session, opened by the Italian Minister for the Environment, the Mayor of Bologna and the Archbishop of Bologna Mons. Zuppi, saw as protagonists the spiritual leaders of the great world religions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist) who recalled the founding principles of their spiritual traditions and reiterated that the Care for the Creation is an integral part of the journey of faith of each believer. The interesting and productive dialogue among faith representatives received holy blessings and greetings from Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leaders at the forefront of climate change commitments. (see messages attached)

The second session, in the afternoon, involved representatives of various faiths who, in the name of their religious dimension, shared projects, works, best practices and development models carried out for the Care of Creation. In this sense, Cecilia Dall’Oglio (GCCM European Programs Coordinator) presented GCCM’s mission and activities giving relevance to the Catholic Divest Project and to the Symbolic Action of Season of Creation 2017 (1 September – 4 October) that can be an occasion to build communities involved in laudato Si’ and also a special occasion for Christians to advocate together for climate justice.

All speakers, at the end of their sessions, signed a Charter of Values and Actions delivered by Mons. Zuppi to the G7 Ministers of the Environment, with different issue shared by the spiritual leaders (e.g. willingness to pursue Paris Agreement’ commitments, responsibility of the richest country towards the poorest ones, strict interconnection between social and environmental issues, availability of religions to support politics for climate justice). Just for underlining the role of religions worldwide in advocating for climate justice and for meetings climate change commitments, the GCCM together with ACT Alliance, FOCSIV and CIDSE published a press release with which christian groups call upon the US and other governments to Care for the creation (press release available at the link)

SEDOS residential seminar 2017 – Economy at the service of mission. GCCM participated to the SEDOS residential seminar with an exhibit information point, the intervention of Cecilia Dall’Oglio, GCCM European Programs Coordinator, during the plenary with 140 bursaries and curia representatives and an optional evening session focused on Catholic Divest in which more than 40 bursars of religious orders in the world have shown great interest for divestment. Fr. Jovito, the Columban Bursar General for Columbans internationally (based in Hong Kong) and Mr. Michael Mooney, the Bursar for the Columban Australia-New Zealand Region (based in Melbourne) joined the evening meeting and brought the divesting experience of Columbans. See Photo and video.



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