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First Faith Pavilion at a COP: Harnessing Spirituality and Faith for Climate Action

At COP28, the Faith Pavilion emerged as a symbol and catalyst for transformational change, integrating spirituality and faith into the heart of climate action. Read about key takeaways, how PaRD members and other global faith representatives engaged at the Faith Pavilion, and how they are shaping a sustainable future with a responsibility for environmental stewardship.

The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from 30 November 2023 to 12 December 2023 in Dubai, marked a historic point in the climate change narrative by hosting the first-ever Faith Pavilion, inaugurated by Pope Francis and other religious leaders. Situated at the heart of COP28 in the blue zone, the Faith Pavilion hosted more than 320 speakers from 55 countries in 65 sessions facilitated by 70 organisations. The diverse programme brought together religious and other civil society representatives, Indigenous Peoples, scientists, youth, political and business leaders, and decision makers. The Pavilion symbolized global and multifaith collaboration in addressing the human-made climate emergency and facilitated intergenerational dialogue. Not only did it further the role of religion and spirituality in the climate movement, but also enabled speakers to advocate for long-term, holistic solutions to protect the earth and its climate.

Media Spotlight: Bridging Spirituality and Climate Action

The Faith Pavilion stood as a testament to the growing recognition of the crucial role faith actors and organisations play in addressing the climate crisis. Across eleven days, the speakers not only promoted much-needed values such as compassion, solidarity, responsibility and far-sightedness, but also advocated for global and multifaith efforts to combat the human-made climate emergency through intergenerational and multistakeholder collaboration on a long-term basis.

The work of the Faith Pavilion gained wide recognition in the media, with over 4,000 articles mentioning the Pavilion. Leading outlets such as The New York Times, AFP and Politico wrote about the Faith Pavilion. Euronews, which reaches around 145 million people every month, published an op-ed which was co-authored by Khushwant Singh, the PaRD Head of Secretariat:

“The Faith Pavilion, featuring over 320 speakers from all over the world, sparks transformative paradigm shifts, evokes actions, virtues and wisdom needed to safeguarding the well-being of all sentient beings, and protecting nature and the whole of Mother Earth. Values such as inclusivity, humbleness, honesty, far-sightedness, and altruism are crucial, particularly amongst decision makers.”

Social media extended the Faith Pavilion’s reach, with more than 16,000 content pieces using the hashtags #FaithAtCOP28 and #FaithClimateAction, raising awareness and engagement in the online sphere, bringing the discussions to a wider audience and demonstrating the role of faith and spirituality in inspiring change.

PaRD Members’ Pivotal Involvement at the Faith Pavilion

Members of PaRD were highly committed and visible at the Faith Pavilion and COP28 through their broad participation. Members representing Bahá’í, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Sikhi, engaged in 25 sessions, spanning from youth organisation like ACWAY, PaRD Africa Voice to global players like the World Council of Churches, World Evangelical Alliance, and academic representatives (see programme). The inclusive approach of the pavilion enabled PaRD members and other participants to explore a diverse array of themes, ranging from global adaptation goals, ethical financing, loss and damage to the pursuit of interfaith climate justice. PaRD members also reflected on the root causes of pollution and climate change at a mental level and proposed ways to find more holistic solutions to protect the environment and the climate and foster well-being of nature, humans, and animals alike.

A Confluence of Wisdom and Call to Action

The Pavilion served as a platform for a multitude of voices from various faith traditions on climate action, symbolised by a growing Wisdom Tree inside the Faith Pavilion. Meditation Cards provided insights on climate action from spiritual, religious, and Indigenous traditions, inspiring contemplation, and action for climate protection.

The Faith Pavilion’s impact at COP28 extended beyond mere discussions. It acted as a catalyst for integrating spiritual wisdom into practical solutions for resilience and sustainability. Several key partners launched the initiative “Faith for Climate: A Call to Action,” emphasising the extreme urgency of this moment. The initiative encourages ambitious advocacy, action, and agreement on climate change at COP28 and beyond to work towards a healthier and more sustainable planet. It invites individuals and organisations to sign onto the Call to Action and work together on a long-term basis.

Beyond COP28

The success of the Faith Pavilion set a precedent for future climate conferences. It serves as a beacon of hope, signalling a new era where spirituality and faith are integral to the global climate discourse. The work of all involved parties demonstrates that when diverse communities unite under an inclusive banner and shared responsibility for the planet, there is immense potential for transformative change. Spiritual values and wisdom offer an alternative to the current linear growth and extractive model that often neglects the well-being of nature, humans, and animals. As spiritual and religious communities represent most of the world’s population, their commitment to the planet’s well-being forms a crucial pillar of a larger transformation in attitudes, behaviour, and policies, fostering a better future for generations to come. In future COPs and other major gloval events, it will be crucial to bring the wisdom and proposals of spiritual and other civil society actors directly to the negotiators’ table.