Faith Summit in Abu Dhabi to highlight role of believers in addressing climate change

By Christopher Wells – Vatican News

Ahead of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, religious leaders from around the world are meeting in Abu Dhabi to emphasize the role of believers in the response to the global crisis of climate change.

Faith leaders from around the world are converging on Abu Dhabi for a global summit on climate action ahead of next month’s COP28 meeting in Dubai.

The summit has been organized by the Muslim Council of Elders, in collaboration with the COP28 Presidency, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the Holy See, and aims at discussing the ethical responsibilities of faith leaders in addressing the climate crisis.

Leading figures representing the world’s major religious traditions will also be addressing the collaboration between faith and science, discussing strategies for amplifying the voices of religious leaders, and highlighting ways to engage grassroots communities in achieving sustainable development.

They will be joined by academics, environmental experts, and advocates, as well as representatives of young people, women, and indigenous communities.

‘A unified cry’ to address a universal threat

“Everyone recognizes the fact that the threat of climate change has become a reality, and a very tangible reality felt by different communities and on a daily basis,” said Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, in an interview with Vatican News.

“That’s why – and understanding it as one of the dangerous, and the most dangerous crises in our modern time – we have thought about this initiative to provide an international platform for faith leaders to come together and to reflect and to discuss together and to send a unified cry against climate change crisis and to contribute to addressing this global threat to humanity,” he said.

Mobilizing believers

The Summit, taking place on 6-7 November, will include calls for action from climate change activists; as well as discussions on topics such as faith and sustainability and faith for planetary resurgence.

Summit participants are also expected to deliver a unified faith declaration on climate action aimed at harnessing the collective influence of religious representatives, communities, and institutions to inspire humanity to advance climate justice.

The importance of this summit, said Judge Abdelsalam, “is to address a very important, unified, strong message to the heads of state and political leaders,” who will be attending COP28.”

The Summit, he said, will “highlight the role religious leaders can play in mobilizing their communities and different parts in the world to be united and to realize the different aspects and the detrimental impacts of climate change and to also promote and advance the global climate action together.

Inclusivity at the heart of COP presidency

Ahead of the Faith Leaders Summit, COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said, “Inclusion is at the heart of our COP Presidency – faith-based communities and organizations play a crucial role in helping the world address climate change. We aim to ensure that COP28 amplifies the call to action from global religious leaders to many of the world’s communities to drive and engage in climate action.”

During a visit to the Vatican last month, Dr. Al Jaber expressed the United Arab Emirates appreciation for Pope Francis’ “unwavering advocacy for positive climate change to advance human progress.”

Last week, Pope Francis announced that he would be going to Dubai to be personally present at the COP28 gathering.

During the meeting, the Muslim Council of Elders, along with the Holy See, the COP28 presidency, the UNEP and a host of faith partners will sponsor a first-of-its-kind “Faith Pavilion” serving as a central hub for fostering interfaith collaboration and engagement, with the ultimate goal of spurring effective and ambitious climate change action.