Faith communities mobilize in Madrid on eve of COP25

"Cambio Climático y Esperanza" (‘Climate Change and Hope') reads the text, as Lutheran World Federation delegate Sebastian Ignacio Muñoz Oyarzo from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile holds a sheet of paper on which key discussion points have been summarized at an interfaith dialogue in Madrid, 1 December. All photos: LWF/Albin Hillert
"Cambio Climático y Esperanza" (‘Climate Change and Hope') reads the text, as Lutheran World Federation delegate Sebastian Ignacio Muñoz Oyarzo from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile holds a sheet of paper on which key discussion points have been summarized at an interfaith dialogue in Madrid, 1 December. All photos: LWF/Albin Hillert

Interfaith service and dialogue set tone for fortnight ahead  

(LWI) – Gathering at the Iglesia de Jesús in central Madrid, representatives of various religious traditions met on 1 December to pray and dialogue together in view of an intense agenda ahead, as the United Nations climate meeting (COP25) runs from 2-13 December.  

Christian, Muslim, Jew and Bahá’í – many are the people of faith who share a common interest in caring for Creation, as political leaders from around the world now gather for the 25th session of the COP to deliberate and negotiate a way forward through what is becoming an evermore alarming situation of global climate emergency.  

Under the theme of ‘Interfaith Dialogue – Hope, Action and Prayer’ some 100 participants took on the challenge of exploring as people of faith ‘where we are,’ ‘where we want to be’, and ‘how we can get there’ in view of a broad spectrum of climate-related challenges and opportunities, following the process of Talanoa dialogue and taking stock of similar dialogues ranging back to COP23.

Lutheran World Federation delegate Fernanda Zuñiga, from the Lutheran Church in Chile, lights candles on the altar, as participants gather in the Iglesia de Jesús.

As one of the hosts of the dialogue, Rev. Alfredo Abad of the Spanish Evangelical Church noted that “it is when we come together, that we can take up that powerful prophetic voice as people of faith.”  

And what is more, stressed Marta Matarín, who coordinates Brahma Kumaris in Barcelona, “we know that our actions will be much more powerful, if they come from a spiritual perspective, as a deep expression of who we are.”

Marta Matarín speaks at the interfaith panel. 
Marta Matarín speaks at the interfaith panel. 

“We are gathered here because we all love this planet,” Matarín said.  

A pivotal time, to speak truth and act across generations 

Running through the first half of December, the UNFCCC’s 25th session marks the last COP before an enhanced set of the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions are to be submitted for the first Paris Agreement implementation cycle.  

And indeed, the conference takes place at a pivotal point in time, just as leading researchers report that the world may already have passed a series of irreversible tipping points towards a changing climate.  

Joining the interfaith session as representative of UNHCR, expert on climate change and environment Amanda Kron stressed the way that the impact of the climate crisis is already being felt, and particularly so among those in our communities who are already marginalized or being discriminated against.

Participants gather for group discussions, zeroing in one different aspects of the impact of the climate emergency.  
Participants gather for group discussions, zeroing in one different aspects of the impact of the climate emergency.  

“We need to ensure now that our responses to the climate emergency fulfil the requirements of human rights, so that they really contribute to a just transition,’” Kron said.  

But the challenges of climate justice also transcend intergenerational boundaries, explained Lutheran World Federation delegate and Council member Khulekani Sizwe Magwaza from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa. 

Khulekani Sizwe Magwaza speaks as part of an interfaith panel, addressing the intergenerational aspect of climate justice.  
Khulekani Sizwe Magwaza speaks as part of an interfaith panel, addressing the intergenerational aspect of climate justice.  

“We’ve been saying for 25 years, that we need to do something about climate change, but we have not done enough. But then if you now have young people at the climate talks today, we have all seen the impact of young people speaking the truth, telling it as it is,” said Magwaza.  

Muslim participant Hana Elabdallaoui reflected, “this is an opportunity for us to show that yes, we are believers, but even for people who don’t believe in any religion, this is an opportunity to leave a mark in this world.”

Hana Elabdallaoui moderates a group discussion at the interfaith dialogue
Hana Elabdallaoui moderates a group discussion at the interfaith dialogue

“Let’s work together, on behalf of God. We are human beings, this is our planet, and we have to protect it,” Elabdallaoui urged. 

Written by Albin Hillert.

 

LWF looking forward to COP25 in Spain

Photos for media, from COP25 in Madrid