RIO+20, 17 JUNE, 2012

Interfaith Response to Sustainable Development: A Vision of Ecological Civilization

by Sr. Joan Kirby, Main United Nations Representative

The Temple of Understanding presented a Side Event together with co-sponsors at the Rio+20 Conference. Rabbi Soetendorp, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Sr. Jayanti and Joan Kirby were panelists and Grove Harris moderated.

What does religion have to do with sustainable development? The Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization works toward the transformation of consciousness needed to make necessary life-style changes to assure sustainability. Religions help people shape their worldview and and act on their values.

Governments need the guidance of an awakened civil society to make radical changes. Corporations need an awakened civil society that will insist on a sustainable consumption. Inspired by the work of Thomas Berry CSP and the world’s religions, this presentation explored the spiritual resources for transformation and current manifestations of such transformation.

Rabbi Soetendorp’s representative, Michael Slaby, spoke of Juliet Hollister’s vision–different faiths working for justice, which includes eighty percent of the world’s population today. It is religion’s duty to mend and heal the world. The message throughout the conference was do not wait for governments to write laws to save the earth. We count on religions to shape human behavior by speaking to and educating hearts. We spiritual beings are writing earth consciousness into our hearts.

Dr. Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya, a network of seed keepers in India, asked for right action by pointing in the direction of:

  1. Open Source SEEDS to be collected at all religious sites thus forming Community Seed Banks, an appropriate way to respect God’s creation. Seeds are God’s creation; we need to protect them;
  2. Resistance to Monsanto GMO’s, genetically modified organisms, (or “God Move Over” according to Shiva) that replace God’s creative action. Religions can express respect and reverence for the SEED by saying what is right and what is wrong;
  3. Open Dialogue without subservience. Let us join hands, People of Faith know the importance of networking to get the work done – we cannot do it alone.

Sister Jayanti, Brahma Kumaris Director, invited us to return to the spiritual awareness needed to change consciousness. We are stewards and trustees of the sanctity of creation. When we act from the heart and speak from the heart we will change the heart of the “other.”

Inspired thus to speak from the heart, we agreed to network with Global Transition Movements and the Widening Circle as important methods to move a civil society motivated by religion.

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