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The conference, which took place 90 days prior to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, RIO + 20, was attended by some 200 participants of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and Bahai faiths.
Main Plenary Session
The main plenary session on the topic of climate and energy from a religious perspective constituted leading religious leaders in the Holy Land including His Beatitude Theophilos III, Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem; His Excellency Archbishop Dr. Elias Chacour, Archbishop of Haifa, Acre, Nazareth and the whole of the Galilee; Sheikh Muhamad Amara, Imam of the town of Zalafa and for the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, and Rabbi Ronen Lubitch, rabbi of the town of Nir Etzion and lecturer at Haifa University.
Throughout this and the following sessions, participants enjoyed simultaneous translation between Arabic, English and Hebrew. The event was praised in the Israeli press for its inclusion of multiple Arab panelists and for providing access to Arabic speakers to the conference proceedings. Video recordings of all the panelists are now available in English as short videos at www.interfaithsustain.com.
Global Religious Leaders’ Perspectives on Climate Change
The session included video content from world religious leaders, several of whom recorded addresses specifically for this Conference following our request. The 30-minute video segment of the conference engaged participants with an alternative medium of communication. The video content included messages from His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church; His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Chief Rabbi of Israel (Ashkenazi) Yona Metzger; His Eminence Cardinal Turkson, President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; His Grace the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury; and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Late Lubavitcher Rebbe. The video enabled the presenting of views of world religious leaders who were not able to physically attend the conference.
The feature video shown at the conference, comprised of short messages from these religious leaders, represented the first time that global religious leaders of this stature have been seen in any format as articulating a united faith-based message for environmental sustainability. The Global Religious Leaders’ Perspectives on Climate Change constituted a taste of the first online library of world’s religious leaders’ statements on climate change and ecology, which is now available on ICSD’s website.
Interfaith Breakout Workshops
Following lunch, six interactive, interfaith workshops were held. These included: Women’s Perspectives on Climate and Energy, facilitated by Elana Rozenman, Executive Director of TRUST-Emun (Women’s Interfaith Network), an Interfaith Seminary Students Workshop facilitated by Mr. Yonatan Sheff, rabbinical intern for Rabbis for Human Rights; and Interactive Interfaith Workshops on Climate Change and Renewable Energy facilitated by Mr. Gidon Melmed, Deputy Director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, Mr. Eliyahu Mclean, Director of Jerusalem Peacemakers, Einat Kramer, Founder and Director of Teva Ivri/Jewish Nature, and Mr. Larry Steinman, board member of ICSD, and Mrs. Shana Neril.
The workshops were well attended, and focused on a practical level of what can be done to promote issues of environmental concern. The Women’s Perspectives workshop was attended by some 45 participants, and the other 5 workshops averaged 14 participants. In addition, the Interfaith Seminary Students Workshop launched the Interfaith Seminary Students Sustainability Project, bringing together Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders of tomorrow to learn together about faith-based sustainability.
Brief presentations by representatives of each of the workshops provided a broader perspective on practical issues that can and should be promoted in relation to Climate Change on the community level. The session was following by the broader perspective of Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and Green Pilgrimage Ambassador Naomi Tsur, and Executive Director of ICSD, Rabbi Yonatan Neril.
Sponsors of the event included the Pratt Foundation, the Julia Burke Foundation and the Green Environment Fund. Organizations which took part in various aspects of the event are TRUST-Emun, Rabbis for Human Rights, Teva Ivri and Al Qasemi Academy.
Over twenty national and international media outlets have reported on the conference, expanding the vision of sustainability, co-existence and responsible living on the planet to millions globally. This included coverage in print, online, radio, and television media.
- Religious leaders unite to bless sustainability (Jerusalem Post)
- Interfaith Eco-Conference Reveals Need To Educate Religious Leaders (Green Prophet)
- Holy Land Leaders: Muslims, Jews, Christians Link to Save the Planet (Green Prophet)
- Faith Inspires: The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (Huffington Post)
- Religious leaders work to save planet (Israel 21C)
- Interfaith Jerusalem: “Let us save the environment” (Ivarfjeld)
- It’s time to make Israel’s Arab visible (Haaretz)
- HB Theophilos III remarks at the Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference. (Jerusalem Patriarch News Gate)
- Líderes religiosos pidieron respeto para el medio ambiente desde Jerusalén (Cooperativa.cl)
- Líderes judíos, católicos y musulmanes se unen por el planeta (El Comercio.pe)
- Líderes religiosos se reúnen en Jerusalén y piden respeto al medio ambiente (Multiple sources including NTN24, Qué.es, La Voz Digital (Cádiz), El Comercio Digital (Asturias), Sur Digital (Andalucía), Lainformacion.com, El Diario Montanes, El Norte de Castilla, El Correo Digital (Vizcaya), La Verdad (Murcia), Ideal Digital, La Rioja, Diario Vasco, Terra Chile, Terra.com, Terra Colombia, Noticias.terra.com)
- Interreligiöst möte i Jerusalem för att rädda planeten (Dagen)
- Radio Segment on the Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference in the Weekly Walter’s World programme on Israel National Radio, also available on ICSD’s “News” page: http://www.interfaithsustain.com/news/interfaith-climate-energy-conference-2012/
- Channel 1 News in English and Arabic broadcasted a several minutes long report from the conference, including an interview with Director of KAS in Israel, Mr. Michael Mertes and with other religious leaders participating in the conference. ICSD expects to upload the interview segment in coming days to: http://www.interfaithsustain.com/news/interfaith-climate-energy-conference-2012/.