A central theme of the Annual Forum was that the climate crisis affects us all. Only together, in cooperation with religious, faith and Indigenous actors, can we confront it. These groups have an enormous influence on how people behave towards nature and have often already internalised many positive approaches to “heal the world”. But the key to moving forward is to act now. “We focus so much on the next few years, ten years, but that seems far away. Every day we are losing time”, argued Mercy Munene, PaRD Steering Group member and Core Team Member with the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA). She pointed out that youth are facing a lot of challenges, for example in terms of employment, and are experiencing the worst of the climate crisis.
Prof. Anne Poelina, Co-Chair of Indigenous Studies Nulungu Research Institute, University of Notre Dame Australia – and one of more than 70 speakers at the 41-session event – found memorable words: "Climate change is climate chaos. We cannot go on like this." She urged the world to give a voice to the muted and use the wisdom also of Indigenous Peoples to rebuild the world. Peter Prove, PaRD Steering Group member and Director of International Affairs at the World Council of Churches, echoed the need for prompt action in an appeal to participants: "Immediate emission reductions are needed to combat climate change by 2030. It is important to engage religious actors in this moral and ethical responsibility all people have to achieve this goal."
A plenary session on “ramping up contributions of religious actors to respond to the climate emergency” included speakers from religious and faith actors as well as from the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Dr Ian Fry, UN Special Rapporteur for protection of Human Rights in context of Climate Change said, “Tragically there is a disconnect between those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and those who are represented today in the decision-making processes to combat climate change.” He explained that religious actors play a vital role due to having, “strong connection with communities, particularly those most affected as well as with decision making bodies. I rely on ongoing dialogues with FBOs to keep me informed.”
Prof. Debra Roberts, co-chair of working group-II of the IPCC 6th assessment report, cautioned us that, “Our current emission levels are highest in human history, and we are not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. If we continue business as usual, we could very well cross 3 degrees Celsius. This could mean in some regions the temperature increase could be much higher and practically can become unliveable”. On adaptation measures she stated, “Climate finance is the key and currently 90% of finance is going to mitigation and not to adaptation in developing countries. Faith communities are huge agents of change and have a unique opportunity to mobilise and scale up to influence the policy and action to address climate change.”