World religious leaders, scientists and global political officials came together on Sunday for the inauguration of the first-ever Faith Pavilion at a COP, to discuss the role of faith communities and religious institutions in addressing the climate crisis.
The first-of-its-kind Faith Pavilion, which is co-hosted by the COP28 Presidency, the UAE Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence, the Holy See, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Muslim Council of Elders, and a coalition of faith partners, is dedicated to the engagement of faith communities and will host panels with religious leaders, scientists, and political leaders, as well as encourage intergenerational dialogue involving youth and indigenous representatives.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, the inauguration was attended by His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, representing His Holiness Pope Francis.
His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and His Holiness Pope Francis both addressed the audience virtually via video, wherein they each highlighted the urgency for urgent action against climate change.
In his video address, His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar said that the initiatives "are precious opportunities in making the voice of religious leaders heard in the face of global challenges - especially advancing the protection of our common home from irreversible destruction, which looms larger every passing year.”
His Holiness Pope Francis said: “Today, the world needs alliances that are not against someone, but for the benefit of everyone. Let us, as religious representatives, set an example to show that change is possible, to demonstrate respectful and sustainable lifestyles, and let us fervently ask the leaders of nations to preserve our common home”.
For his part, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence in the United Arab Emirates added, "The UAE also prioritizes tolerance, harmony, and human fraternity as fundamental principles and plays a pivotal role on the global stage by diligently working towards protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development."
COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said, “Climate change cares little about our politics, our borders, or our differences in religion. Our success depends on our ability to come together as one global community to solve it, and global faith communities play a significant role in instilling awareness of the shared social responsibility of all people worldwide towards environmental protection.”
The Faith Pavilion builds on the success of an earlier gathering of more than 200 religious leaders, scientists, youth, academics and environmental experts in Abu Dhabi at the Global Faith Leaders' Summit on 6 and 7 November.
During the Summit, 28 faith leaders signed the 'Confluence of Conscience: Uniting for Planetary Resurgence' also known as 'The Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement for COP28', which expressed their “shared concern” over escalating climate impacts, as well as a joint commitment to address the crisis.
The Statement is on display in the Faith Pavilion, which is located in the Blue Zone at COP28.
Recognizing that over 84 per cent of the world’s population identifies with a religion, the Faith Pavilion seeks to unite religious representatives, communities, and institutions in support of climate action and the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.