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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Committing to gender responsive just transitions in the context of climate change
- Recognising the role of trade unions in addressing economic inequalities and the gender pay gap
- More detailed methods to ensure the redistribution of unpaid care work
- 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.
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.”
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
- Here is an article that outlines the granting of the easement: http://www.kfyrtv.com/content/news/US-Army-Corps-of-Engineers-grants-easement-for-DAPL-under-Lake-Oahe-413224723.html
- Here is a #NoDAPL action hub (it has actions listed out in all states)–it was created by the indigenous youth central to the #NoDAPL fight: http://everydayofaction.org/
- And a music video about Standing Rock to uplift our spirits and remind us why advocacy and fighting the fight is important: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onyk7guvHK8
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
- 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
Temple of Understanding
United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD)
Women’s Major Group
Mining Working Group
UNCTAD – Trade, Gender and Development
Women’s Major Group Joint Statement – UNCTAD 14
Temple of Understanding – Food Sovereignty
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…”
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.”
You can also join MoveOn.org in thanking the Standing Rock Sioux community and/or contributing financially to the tribe.
- Include your name and message in a thank-you card to be sent to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II
- Make a tax-deductible donation to the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, which has established a special fund for the exclusive use of the tribe >>
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.
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.
For months, people have gathered to fight the Dakota Oil Pipeline that will cut through sacred Native American land. This is life at the Sacred Stone Camp. Click the image to view the video from BuzzFeed News.