Spiritual Leaders Deliver Interfaith Climate Declaration at COP23 – By Bicycle

Via the Parliament of the World’s Religions:

(Bonn, November 10, 2017) Scores of religious leaders and people of diverse faiths and spiritualities on bicycles, some wearing traditional religious clothing, delivered a multi-faith statement to the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP23), pledging to adopt sustainable behaviors themselves and calling on their followers and world leaders to do the same. The delivery also marked the launch of a new international, multi-faith sustainable lifestyles initiative.

Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California was among faith leaders carrying the message to the UN meeting on bikes, symbolizing a commitment to sustainable transport. “By changing our own lifestyles, the lifestyles of our congregants, and the consumption habits of our congregations, we can help make good on our commitment to the Paris Agreement,” he says. “For us, it’s a way to state loudly and clearly: We’re still in.”

The COP23 Interfaith Climate Statement on Sustainable Lifestyle, entitled Walk Gently on Earth (Download Here), represents a shared assertion by religious leaders globally that widespread sustainable behavior change is required if global temperature rise is to meet the targets established by the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Read more about this initiative coordinated by GreenFaith >>

Photo by Dorothy Breuer, DorotheeBreuer at gmx.net

Stand Up for the Earth: Affirm the Paris Agreement

The Temple of Understanding, one of the oldest interfaith organizations in North America, stands with our many partners, the Parliament of World Religions, faith leaders of all traditions, corporations, universities and concerned citizens in condemning President’s Trump’s unconscionable action pulling out of the Paris Agreement.  We will continue to work towards a sustainable future in our towns and cities regardless of the lack of support from our misinformed US government leadership. 

Show your support for the Paris Agreement and Climate Action >>


In a recent sermon entitled “Defiant Hope,” Rev. Dr. Jim Antal of the United Church of Christ urged his listeners to speak up about climate issues:

Defiant hope believes that we are called by God to change what appears to be inevitable, and that God has given us everything we need to engage. […] So our first task is to end this silence. And it turns out that the biggest predictor of people’s willingness to take action to defend creation is whether they are in regular contact with others who believe and act like them. In other words, by breaking our silence and sharing our views and values with others, we will empower one another to take action.

And this is where church comes in. Looking back, slavery would not have ended if it hadn’t have been for church. And just as the church responded to God’s call over 200 years ago, God is calling the church of today to defend God’s gift of creation. Humanity will not make the changes science says we must unless the church becomes a center for conversation, discernment, support and action.


From the Parliament of the World’s Religions Statement:

The Parliament of the World’s Religions condemns in the strongest possible terms the President’s decision to renege on the commitment of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact signed by 195 nations and formally ratified by 147 nations.

The decision is wrong from every relevant perspective:

  • Scientifically, it is unsound and indefensible.

  • Economically, it undermines the ability of the United States to build a competitive economy for the future, sacrificing US jobs at almost every level of production and service, sacrificing American competitiveness in every market.

  • Medically, it condemns hundreds of thousands to unnecessary sickness and premature death.

  • Politically, it undermines the United States’ credibility and trustworthiness with its strongest allies as well as its fiercest competitors, and thus strikes a self-inflicted blow against national security.

Our condemnation of this decision is based on our conviction that the decision is wrong, but not just in the sense that it is incorrect. This decision is wrong in the sense that it is evil—it will result in devastation to life on Earth for generations to come. Its global consequences and impact on every living being on the planet makes it fundamentally immoral.


From the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Statement:

The Paris Agreement remains a historic treaty signed by 195 Parties and ratified by 146 countries plus the European Union. […]

The Paris Agreement is aimed at reducing risk to economies and lives everywhere, while building the foundation for a more prosperous, secure and sustainable world. It enjoys profound credibility, as it was forged by all nations and is supported by a growing wave of business, investors, cities, states, regions and citizens. We are committed to continue working with all governments and partners in their efforts to fast forward climate action at global and national levels.

 

Faith Groups at People’s Climate March, 4/29/17 (Photos)

Muslim environmental activists at the Washington DC People’s Climate March, 29 April 2017

 

Grove Harris represented the Temple of Understanding at the April 29 Climate March in D.C. as part of the Interfaith Groups mobilization for People’s Climate Marches. Rev. Fletcher Harper of GreenFaith led the interfaith contingent in sitting down in silence, then joining in a common heartbeat rhythm, and finally rising up in voice, as a special part of the march.

Overall, more than 200,000 gathered in Washington DC and millions joined in over 375 marches around the globe, all standing up in concern for our climate and against regressive politics. The 91 degree heat in April did not deter marchers; rather it reinforced concern.

Faith in Place: Faithful People Caring for the Earth provided reflections on the People’s Climate March.

All photos by Grove Harris.

Rev. Fletcher Harper (right) and activists leading the crowd in a group heartbeat

 

2017 UN Commission on the Status of Women Report (CSW61)

The Temple of Understanding collaboratively organized three successful sessions and an interfaith service of remembrance during the 61st Annual Commission on the Status of Women

TOU board members and attendees at CSW61

 

For the overall proceedings, we suggest this report by colleague Kate Lappin, of APWLD and the Women’s Major Group, who assessed Four wins at CSW this year:

  1. Committing to gender responsive just transitions in the context of climate change
  2. Recognising the role of trade unions in addressing economic inequalities and the gender pay gap
  3. More detailed methods to ensure the redistribution of unpaid care work
  4. Referring to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP)  [Read more]

Also recommended is the Report on CSW61 and Analysis of the Agreed Conclusions by Ms. Lakshmi Puri, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.

 

Interfaith Service of Remembrance, CSW61

 

This year’s interfaith service again remembered women murdered for standing up for their rights. Four months after the death of Berta Cáceres, her colleague Lesbia Yaneth Urquia was murdered for the same work: trying to stop a hydroelectric project that threatened water and land. The Council of Indigenous People of Honduras (Copinh) is quoted as writing, “The death of Lesbia Yaneth is a political femicide that tries to silence the voices of women with the courage and bravery to defend their rights.”

 

Roberto Mukaro Borrerro, Grove Harris, Betty Lyons

 

Our joint DPI/NGO session was entitled “Women as Roots of Change: Sustainable Food Production and Sovereignty.” Speakers included Sister Celine Paramunda, Medical Mission Sisters; Betty Lyons (Onondaga Nation), American Indian Law Alliance; Roberto Mukaro Borrerro, International Indian Treaty Council; and Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier, Chief, New York UNCTAD. It was a pleasure to collaborate with DPI colleagues Hawa Diallo, who brilliantly introduced the panel, and the production team including Krystal Fruscella and Chioma Onwumelu (all pictured below).

Our full crew: Women as Roots of Change DPI/NGO Session at CSW61

 

The complete session can be viewed on UN Web TV by clicking the image below: 

 

Our session “On a Gender-Just and Sustainable Trade Agenda,” co-sponsored by UNCTAD and the Women’s Major Group, both highlighted the need for more advocacy towards a gendered understanding of trade policies, and commended women’s activism in pushing for it. UNCTAD has a set of online publications that are part of their gender initiative. They write, “Taking into account gender perspectives in macro-economic policy, including trade policy, is essential to pursuing inclusive and sustainable development and to achieving fairer and beneficial outcomes for all.”

This event, held in the Ex-Press Bar, was hugely successful. The room was filled to capacity (over 80 people) and the audience included a graduate class of women training in international affairs.

Grove Harris, Kate Lappin, Chantal Line Carpentier

 

Grove Harris moderated and showed the film, Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women and Eco-Justice. Speaker Kate Lappin was brilliant, explaining that development funding reverts profits back to the donor countries and further demystifying trade. Then Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier congratulated women’s activism, which has driven UNCTAD’s new gender and trade initiative. After the panel, Dr. Carpentier expressed appreciation for the opportunity to keep working with the NGO community on trade and financial concerns.

Speakers from the floor included Alina Saba, an Indigenous youth from Nepal who spoke to a community perspective, rather than an implicitly individualistic one. Nick Anton spoke on the new People’s Water Guide, and Ana Alvarez brought up the issue of corporate power. Theresa Blumenfield questioned UNCTAD’s uncritical acceptance of the corporate strategy of developing robots to avoid paying human workers.

Celine Paramunda, Crystal Simeoni, Grove Harris

 

Our session “Roots of Change: Reclaiming Economics for Women and Community” gave the audience an opportunity to exchange personal views and voice heartfelt concerns. We are especially grateful for the presence of speakers Crystal Simeoni of FEMNET and Sister Celine Paramunda of Medical Mission Sisters. Simeoni’s background in rural economic development and fighting inequality was coupled with clarity and insight. Sr. Paramunda offered heartfelt remarks on women’s leadership and spirit. She also led a brief meditation about breath and relationship, relating us to trees and the cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

FEMNET, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network, offered a set of Red Flags expressing grave concerns about the direction of CSW61. Naming eighteen areas of concern, they warn, “The 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women is heading toward a weak, even regressive, outcome that fails to address the current state of the world of work, let alone address future challenges.” These areas will require ongoing monitoring and activism.

 

 

#NoDAPL – Comfort and Action as Construction Resumes

Via the Mining Working Group at the UN:

As I am sure many of you have heard, the easement has been granted for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. While I am deeply heartbroken, I think it’s crucial to stay involved and aware of all coming updates and opportunities to unite.
 
 
 
We also recommend the Viceland series on Standing Rock, one of the best collections of footage of the demonstrations.
 
 

On A Gender-Just & Sustainable Trade Agenda (CSW61)

On A Gender-Just & Sustainable Trade Agenda

Part of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women

Monday, March 20, 2017, 1:15 – 2:30 pm
Ex-Press Bar, Third Floor
United Nations HQ, New York

This panel will consider the impacts of international trade on women’s empowerment in diverse countries, as well as the systemic human rights issues involved. We will explore the potential for trade to support Sustainable Development Goal 5 and be a tool to redress economic imbalances. Economic justice must be strengthened using research, data, education and effective implementation. UNCTAD’s research, mandate, potential and challenges will be presented. 
 
We will consider the use of a human rights frame: the Human Right to Food and the Human Right to Water (SDG 6) are particularly relevant to women as small farmers and food providers. We will also address women’s ownership of land and/or resources and women’s unpaid labor. Women’s voices from India, El Salvador and the US will be brought in via a short film to frame the gravity of the concerns and call for an inclusive bounty.
 
 

Panelists

  • Grove Harris, Temple of Understanding, moderating and introducing short film Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women and Eco-Justice
  • Chantal Line Carpentier, PhD, Chief, UNCTAD New York Office
  • Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
  • Respondents, with local/regional updates and promising practices

 

Organizer

Temple of Understanding

 

Co-Sponsors

United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD)
Women’s Major Group
Mining Working Group

 

Links

UNCTAD – Trade, Gender and Development
http://unctad.org/en/Pages/DITC/Gender-and-Trade/Trade,-Gender-and-Development.aspx

Women’s Major Group Joint Statement – UNCTAD 14

http://apwld.org/womens-major-group-joint-statement-unctad-14/ 

Temple of Understanding – Food Sovereignty
http://templeofunderstanding.org/what-we-do/food/

Dakota Pipeline Halted — Take Action to Stop the Construction for Good #StandingRock #NoDAPL

On December 4, the department of the Army announced that it will not approve an easement that will allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe. The following statement was released by Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II.

“Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes…”

Read the complete statement at StandWithStandingRock.net >>

 

Take Action

But the fight is not over! So long as the project is still being funded, it may move forward at a later date. Please take action to cut off the Dakota Pipeline’s funding.

“While the US Army Corps continues its consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe about the river crossing, the Dakota Access pipeline project is in financial jeopardy.  It is likely impossible for the company to meet its January 1 deadline, and if it does not, producers and shippers who two years ago committed to use the pipeline will have the option to renegotiate or even terminate their contracts… In August, a group of banks agreed to lend $2.5 billion to Dakota Access. But $1.4 billion of this loan is still on hold until the Army Corps grants the final permits for the pipeline. This means that there is still time for the banks involved in this loan to cut their line of credit.”

Target the 17 banks funding the pipeline and demand they divest from the project — read more on HonorEarth.org >>

You can also join MoveOn.org in thanking the Standing Rock Sioux community and/or contributing financially to the tribe.

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TOU Stands with Standing Rock #StandingRock #NoDAPL

Standing with Standing Rock

The Temple of Understanding stands with Standing Rock! Grove Harris, our Main Representative to the United Nations, is pictured (third from the right) with interns from Peace Boat US, which does peace missions around the world. This shot was taken on Nov. 15 on the way to a rally in support of Standing Rock protesters.

Parliament of the World’s Religions Statement on Standing Rock #NoDAPL #StandingRock

Parliament Standing Rock

[Reprinted from the Parliament newsletter]

Today, representatives of the Parliament of the World’s Religions leadership have arrived in North Dakota to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Parliament Vice-Chair Andras Corban-Arthen leads the delegation meeting with the camp organizers. He will present a Parliament statement (follows below) supporting the protest of the DAPL and upholding the dignity, rights and freedoms of our Indigenous siblings by sharing our commitments around the camp’s Sacred Fire. This statement conveys our collective support as a global interfaith community and is co-signed by:

  • Chair of the Board of Trustees Dr. Robert Sellers
  • Executive Director Dr. Larry Greenfield
  • Vice-Chair Dr. Kusumita Petersen
  • Chair of the Indigenous Task Force Lewis Cardinal
  • Parliament of the World’s Religions Special Ambassador on Climate Change Ms. Karenna Gore

If you wish to act with us, below are a few critical points on how you can best support the Standing Rock Sioux. This information comes to us through our contacts on-site:

  • The most important thing is to come to the camp and stand with the Water Protectors as a physical presence.
  • Apply pressure to political leaders. It is critical that we move quickly in our actions before U.S. President Obama leaves office in January.
  • Visit www.standwithstandingrock.net for information and oppportunities to offer financial support. Of the 1.5 million dollars that has come in support of the Water Protectors, more than half has gone to legal fees. No money has been allocated to the 400 people who have been arrested, including 14 clergy members arrested in Bismarck, North Dakota.
  • For those who can physically come to the camp, extra supplies are needed. In addition to your own supply, please try to bring food and water cold weather clothing (mitts, jackets, scarves, and hats) for other Water Protectors.
  • nativechildrenssurvival.org is another good resource for information.

For those able and interested to travel to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, please contact the Parliament for direct information of our on-site contacts, and to offer your own aid in coordinating additional efforts.

Thank you for your support.

Your Friends at the Parliament of the World’s Religions

A Statement on Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

from the Parliament of the World’s Religions


At the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Parliament of the World’s Religions adopted several statements including an Indigenous People’s Declaration for Action and An Interfaith Call to Action on Climate Change. We encourage everyone to sign these declarations. The people confronting the ongoing crisis in North Dakota are representative of the action these declarations call for. The following is an excerpt from the Indigenous Declaration.

An End to the Desecration of Sacred Sites

“We hold the Ancestors, the Mother Earth, Forces of Nature, mountains, rivers, oceans, streams, trees, winds, storms, and all living beings as sacred and worthy of reverence. This worldview is the key to reversing the path of disaster on which all inhabitants of our sacred Mother Earth tread. We invite all Brothers and Sisters of the Creator to invoke and respect the divine spirits of the natural world, thereby ending their desecration.”

– Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration for Action, Parliament of the World’s Religions, 2015, Salt Lake City, USA

 

A Statement On Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

The Parliament of the World’s Religions denies any purported “rights” of the Dakota Access Pipeline to trespass on, build upon, and subsequently endanger the sacred land and water of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. We do not speak for the peoples whose sacred sites and waterways are under attack. Instead we respond to a call from our 2015 Parliament keynote speaker Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and we are inviting you to join us in answering that call:

“What we are being faced with is a dark spirit. All life cannot afford to allow the same mistakes to be made any longer. Look what is happening to the four directions in the contamination of MniWic’oni – the water of life…”

“We are asking the religious leaders to come support them to stand side by side with them [the protestors at Standing Rock] because they are standing in prayer.”

– Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Nations

 

The desecration of sacred sites, for profit or otherwise, is both an unjustifiable practice and a violation of the basic human right of religious freedom. This desecration is especially unacceptable when, as in this case, it is perpetrated against peoples who have weathered a long history of abuse for the sake of material wealth, land, and resources in both the recent and distant history of the United States.

The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is an attempt to desecrate the sacred, to corrupt the life that flows from the water and grows from the soil, and to silence the voices speaking out in protest. And while the people at Standing Rock have brought an incredible level of visibility to the abuses happening there, the fight does not belong exclusively to them; it is our responsibility as humans and as people of faith to join them in that fight.

Since the centenary Parliament of 1993, the participation of Indigenous Peoples in Parliament events (in the USA, Africa, Europe, and Australia) has been crucial in making the Parliament of the World’s Religions what it now is. In this present environmental crisis, we have once again been granted an opportunity to embrace the unique and deep spirituality that comes from the land and those who guard it, to find common ground with one another and to experience the beautiful reciprocity that comes from sharing our beliefs, cultures, and our common home. We must not squander this chance to listen to those who have been so often silenced in the past.

Organized and well-funded violence is taking place in rural North Dakota, deployed against these protesters as they stand peacefully against further violence being committed against the Earth. It is another example of unchecked commercial entities endangering the common good for profit, a massive step backwards in the move away from fossil fuel reliance, and a clear instance of oppression.

It is time to join with these Protectors and to stand up to this exploitation of natural resources and the people that they sustain, in the name of the Mother Earth who nurtures all of us.

– The Parliament of the World’s Religions

* * * *

We do not and will never advocate repaying violence with violence in this protest or in others. For peaceful and practical ways to help protect the land and the water endangered by the DAPL and to support the people who are standing against it, here are some actions you can take:

Visit: http://www.nodaplarchive.com

Contact North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple at 701-328-2200 and leave a message stating your opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Call the White House at 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 to ask President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Call the Army Corps of Engineers at 202-761-5903 and demand that they rescind the permit.

Crucial Win for El Salvador: No Compensation for Denied Mining Permits

From the New York Times:

MEXICO CITY — The government of El Salvador won a long-running legal battle on Friday when an international arbitration panel ruled that it did not have to pay compensation to a mining company that was denied a concession to drill for gold.

The case had been watched by antimining activists, who had pointed to it as a test of the rights of governments to make laws protecting their citizens’ health and the environment against challenges from corporations.

The panel, the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, at the World Bank in Washington, accepted El Salvador’s argument that the company, Pac Rim Cayman, did not meet all the legal requirements to receive a permit.

The ruling was a relief to the Salvadoran government, which faced a demand for $314 million in compensation from Pac Rim Cayman for the loss of expected profits from the mining venture.

“What is clear is that investments are welcome if they respect institutions, if they respect the environment and health,” Lina Pohl, El Salvador’s environment minister, said in a phone interview from San Salvador, the capital.

Read more: El Salvador Wins Dispute Over Denying a Mining Permit >>