Faith for Earth Councilors: Capacity Building and Development Program, Cluster Meeting with Faith-Based Organizations, UN House, New Delhi

New Delhi, 17th March; A meeting of high-level faith-based organizations from the Hindu community was held yesterday at UN House, New Delhi to seek synergies between the ongoing work of many faith institutions and the vision of UNEP as part of the Faith for Earth Councilors Program.

As part of a 4 month-long initiative, three cluster meetings are being held to strengthen and consolidate the network of Faith-Based Organizations that are working to address environmental urgencies. Adhering to the Covid 19 guidelines these meeting seeks to engage with Faith leaders primarily from Delhi, only to have a more nuanced engagement at an expansive scale through online convening/training meetings in April.

This unique, one of its kind initiative hopes to create a platform for recognition of the existing best practices, synergize the priorities of UNEP with those of faith-based organizations, share toolkits, roadmaps and engagement plans for future engagement of leaders from religious and spiritual communities to address environmental urgencies.

Based on the goals and vision of the United Nations Environment Assembly and the survey results from Phase 1 of data collection of the Faith For Earth Councilors Program Dr. Iyad Abu Moghli, Director, Faith for Earth, Strategic Engagement with Faith-based Organizations, UN Environment Programme Nairobi – Kenya and Mrs Divya Datt senior program officer, India shared in detail about the formal and informal role faith organisations could embody alongside UNEP to address the urgent need of the only planet we live on. Emphasizing the importance of nature-based solutions Dr Iyad and Mrs Divyal both laid emphasis on faith leaders as advocates for change and a strong pillar in helping UNEP achieve the 2030 targets.

Following the keynote and welcome speeches, all faith leaders also evoked blessings for the mother earth from the Holy scriptures of the Hindu religion focusing on the importance of the environment in the Holy scriptures. This was followed by a discussion moderated by Mrs Gayatri Raghwa, education consultant and focal point for faith based organization UNEP India on the opportunities and challenges between the on-going program and the existing work on the FBOs.

Amongst the many well known leaders such as Hon Pujya Sister Shivani ji from Brahmakumaris, Hon. Pujya Sadhvi Bhagwati ji from Global Interfaith Wash Alliance/Parmarth Niketan, Pujya Gauranga Das ji from the Govardhan Eco Village Isckon, Pujya Swami Deepankar ji, amongst many others had joined the seoncd meeting. Successive meeting will happen on 19th with religious leaders from Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Bahai on the following days.

Religion World and Shirsti are the executing technical and outreach partner of the Faith for Earth Councilors Program, United Nations Environment Program along with United Religions Initiative.

About the Program

In partnership with UNEP Faith for Earth Initiative and the United Religions Initiative’s response to the climate crisis, the UNEP-URI India office seeks to launch the Faith for Earth Councilors Program.  The program offers hands-on training that unites FBOs and collective action for the protection of our Mother Nature.

This Program seeks to create a network of faith leaders, faith-based organizations, and community members who will respond to the urgent, climate-related concerns at the local, regional and national level. The Faith for Earth Councilor Program is a series of online and in-person training to educate and equip faith leaders with the tools and an engagement plan so they effectively communicate with, and inspire others, to respond quickly and effectively to care for Creation.

Designed and conceptualized with the help of civil society groups like Religion World and Shristi in India, the training program seeks to build and document an active and inspiring network that models cross-sectorial learning and cultures of peace, justice, and healing for all -- especially our Mother Earth.