The Role of Faith Communities and UNEP

– Speech delivered at UNEA 5.2 on behalf of the Faith Communities
(UNEA-5) is an historic moment for multiple faith traditions to engage with global environmental challenges today. Since the launch of Faith for Earth at UNEA 4, this movement continues to grow exponentially.
Fifty-six Faith Based Organizations (FBOs)
are accredited and participate in the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders program.
This year a series of Faith for Earth Dialogues took place with the support of ninety-four FBOs. The series was opened by the Executive Director of UNEP and the President of UNEA alongside ten high-level faith leaders representing 80% of the global population.
As members from unique communities of faith, religious traditions, and spiritual pathways – we affirm with scientists around the world the underlying causes of climate change, pollution, assaults on biodiversity, and ecosystem degradation, that are all tangled in a spiritual crisis of values, ethics and moral responsibility evident human overconsumption.
A fundamental change in policy and practice around the world will require a spiritual transformation for humanity that will be evident in values, attitudes and overall disposition to strengthen action for nature.
We are faith actors, living and practicing our beliefs in every part of the world. We are able to reach billions of people around the world in order to inspire this transformation.
We are rooted in local communities and already provide spiritual, practical, and psychological support to displaced people, vulnerable communities, and to millions affected by calamities.
We play an essential role in assisting communities to respond with resilience in the face of current and coming disasters.
Ahead of UNEA-5.2, a coalition of faith actors met in order to reach agreement on a statement that responded to the scourge of plastic pollution in our rivers, oceans and land. This agreement is initially signed by forty-five faith representatives, as more support for the statement arrives.
The distinctive role of faith actors was recognised in UNEP’s Medium-Term Strategy. Given our emphasis on values and enormous potential global reach, we stand committed to strengthening our collaboration with UNEP in recognition of a crucial role our constituencies have at the local, national, and international levels.
Collaboration with faith actors at all levels, including to the Faith for Earth Coalition, represents a fundamental opportunity to seek transformational change at the heart of the human relationship to the natural world in which we all live and a hope upon which our
future depends.
Presented by Shantanu Mandal

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