Temple of Understanding is proud to have received accreditation from the United Nations to participate in the upcoming convening of the parties on the Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held in Montreal and virtually this December 2022.

We will continue to network with and learn from the CBD Women’s Caucus as the issues of gender and environment are interlinked, and civil society is called upon to coordinate as much as possible for maximum impact and efficiency.

Our colleagues in the Faith & Biodiversity UN Coordination Group have drafted a significant and detailed position paper that lifts up the concept of the web of life, strives for more ambition, and raises the complex cross-cutting issues that must be included in planning and implementation.  The human rights approach, and in particular concern for the centering of Indigenous people and knowledge along with local communities, is crucial for protecting biodiversity. Transitioning away from devastating extractions towards systems that respect nature and natural limits is essential.  These concerns hold for all the related climate change, pollution, food systems and related UN processes.  The principles of faith communities affirm life, not its destruction.

For more than a decade, the Temple of Understanding, an ECOSOC and DPI accredited NGO, has been working towards protecting bio-diversity and rallying the faiths and interfaith community towards a consciousness shift necessary to protect nature rather than continue exploitation.

The Temple of Understanding is proud to assist the UN Convention on Biodiversity in what UNEP describes as the effort to “implement broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity and to ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled.

The TOU’s contribution lies in extensive programming that motivates the faith communities to this work, lifting up faith voices for the moral call to harmony with nature, offering programming that bridges science, faith, and other disciplines, and developing youth leadership to further this work.

There’s some great reporting available on the current COP 15 on protecting biodiversity. You can view the faith events (and their recordings) online at https://www.biodiversity.faith/events.  Please join us for the Temple of Understanding’s event on Wednesday the 14th at 4 pm ET, The Species We Save May Be Our Own- Interfaith Organizations on Biodiversity Loss.

The TOU’s Food Sovereignty Initiative includes our professionally produced short documentary, Roots of Change: Food Sovereignty, Women and Eco-Justice – that has been featured at numerous UN settings and other educational venues, showcasing highlights of our speakers and programs.

Vandana Shiva

We have worked for many years with the leading seed freedom activist Vandana Shiva, promoting her work through the Parliament of the World’s Religions and featuring her passion for sustainable farming, regenerative agriculture, and an end to the industrialized mono crop farming that is destroying bio-diversity at our annual forums and other programs.

“As much as 75 percent of the planetary destruction of soil, water, biodiversity, and 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial agriculture, which also contributes to 75 percent of food related chronic diseases.

Chemical agriculture does not return organic matter and fertility to the soil. Instead it is contributing to desertification and land degradation. It also demands more water since it destroys the soil’s natural water-holding capacity.”  https://templeofunderstanding.org/industrial-agriculture-responsible-for-75-of-planetary-destruction/

This search function link offers the full array of our programming with Dr. Shiva.

Annual FORUM Events




Our annual FORUM events all have bridged scientific understanding with moral and religious perspectives, building understanding across these diverse and complementary perspectives towards a renewed respect for and understanding of biodiversity and human relation and participation in nature. Our context is climate change and action toward a livable future.


The ToU is concerned with the biodiversity and health of oceans, whether

  • in the local setting of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, home of the development of major new offshore wind farming for the US, where we work with an interfaith consortium and recently succeeded at passing a climate emergency declaration at all local counties,
  • in the UN BBNJ where we raise the issue of human rights by name, through our work with colleagues there in the WECF,
  • in the work at the UN towards a plastics treaty, where we have again called for human rights to be mentioned by name, invoking the foundational principles of the UN as we try to shift the relationship of humankind to the planet,
  • in our recent program as a parallel event to the 2022 UN Commission on the Status of Women, Women’s Leadership on Climate Change: Coastal Ecology and Native Wisdom, where scientist Robin Hadlock Seeley brought in her work on the preservation of seaweeds, where Dr. Ricki Ott spoke of her years of experience working in recovery from oil spills which are devastating to bio-diversity, and where Theresa Dardar spoke to the loss of land in Louisiana, moderated by Jamie Bissionette to maintain a spaciousness for indigenous perspective.

Indigenous Wisdom

We lift up Indigenous voices, of leaders who are profoundly concerned with bio-diversity loss. Please see our recordings of interviews online at Indigenous Voices on Eco-Justice for All

More Related Programming

Ecological Justice Initiative is our broader initiative.

Human Right to Water Initiative

UNEP’s Charles McNeill and the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative

The Essentials: Food, Water, Women and Justice @CSW 2014

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