Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, Amma’s most senior disciple, addressed the opening session at the Global Faith Leaders’ Summit on Climate Action in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Twenty-eight religious leaders from all the world’s major religions signed a statement calling for immediate action to address climate change with solidarity, responsibility, and hope.
“Faith leaders should take the initiative to teach their followers that their love for God should extend to manifest in how we treat our planet—the sacred home we all share. Our faith traditions implore us to be stewards of this Earth, and our moral and spiritual duty is to protect and preserve it for generations to come,” said Swamiji in addressing the Summit’s opening session.
Following a year of extreme weather events in which many climate records have been broken, the Summit focused on the ethical responsibility of faith communities and political leaders to forge environmental responsibility. It brought together over 200 participants representing major religions, Indigenous traditions, climate scientists, academics, and youth activists.
“Now that we have a better understanding of the physical world, better theories, and inventions, we are supposed to be more at peace with ourselves and the world, right? However, this is not the case. Something doesn’t add up. What happened, and where did we go wrong? Why are we more agitated than ever before? It is greed and a lack of compassion. We don’t think or care about others,” continued Swamiji.
“It is not the natural demise of our planet, billions of years from now, that we have to worry about. We have an immediate problem—a problem we ourselves created. That impact will be felt not in a couple of billion years, but within the next 100 years.”
The Summit was organised by the Muslim Council of Elders in collaboration with UAE’s Presidency for COP28, set to take place in Dubai from November 30 to December 12. COP is the annual climate meeting of the United Nations where governments discuss how to limit and prepare for future climate change. COP stands for “Conference of Parties” where the “parties” are the countries that signed up to the original UN climate agreement in 1992.
Our faith traditions implore us to be stewards of this Earth, and our moral and spiritual duty is to protect and preserve it for generations to come.Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, Vice-chair of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math
The gathering brought together many other eminent speakers and faith leaders from diverse backgrounds, including H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, His Eminence Prof. Mohamed Al-Duweini, His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I, H.E. Maulen Ashimbayev, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Deacon Ilya Kashitsyn, The Most Venerable Dr. Kori Shinkai, Father Mina Hanna Barsum, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Sister Maureen Goodman, and His Virtue Sheikh-ul Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh.
The signing of the Interfaith Statement on Climate Action Towards COP28 united the faith leaders in their commitment to guide environmental justice and emphasise the connection between religion and environmental responsibility. The statement was presented by a child from the UAE, symbolising the future generations that will be affected by climate change.
“The question of how long planet Earth—our only home—will be able to exist as a life-sustaining world is in many people’s minds these days. This was not the case a thousand years ago. Interestingly, this question has become more important and serious, especially in the last few decades after the explosion of technological developments, which supposedly made man’s physical world richer and more comfortable,” said Swamiji.
The Global Faith Leaders’ Summit is founded on the principles of justice, causing no harm, and fostering peace with all living beings. This year’s theme calls upon heads of state, governments, civil society, and business leaders to take immediate action, including accelerating energy transitions, embracing circular models of living in harmony with nature, and adopting clean energy.
Swamiji’s impassioned address underscores the vital role of faith leaders in advocating for urgent climate action and the necessity for collective efforts to address the climate crisis. The Summit has paved the way for meaningful change and collaboration among faith communities to safeguard our planet for future generations.