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Inter-religious Dialogue on Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation Islander Center, Sewalanka Foundation Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka,

23-27 September 2012


The Inter-religious Dialogue on Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation was held in Sri Lanka from the 23 to 27 September 2012 through the collaborative efforts of INEB (International Network of Engaged Buddhists), Sewalanka Foundation, IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and CEESP (Commission on Environmental Economic and Social Policy). Drawing from the African experience of the “We Have Faith” inter-religious campaign represented at the 17th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, a faith-based conference was proposed for the Asian region, expanding beyond INEB’s Buddhist focus to collaborate across different faith traditions in order to bring the voice of morality and ethics of human behaviour into dialogue and identify cooperative actions on climate change. Over 150 people representing 20 countries from Asia and across the planet from Buddhist, Hindu, Baha’i, Christian (Catholic and Protestant), Asian animists/ naturalists from Sri Lanka (Vedda) and Vietnam, and Islamic faith traditions, gathered at Sewalanka’s peaceful Islander Center, which itself provides a unique model for sustainable living, community cross-cultural and interfaith relationship building, and biodiversity regeneration in an area scarred by the impacts of war and extremes of unpredictable climate patterns.


Here, faith leaders, environmental and climate scientists, conservationists and social activists from across the region converged to collaboratively explore the scientic foundations of climate change and biodiversity loss, its social, political and economic drivers, the impacts of climate change on human societies and the environment, and importantly, the underlying human behaviours which contribute to climate change.


Together, a common understanding of the causes and impacts of climate change was articulated. Discussion evolved from an exploration of the human drivers of climate change, which are integrally tied to an overuse/abuse of fossil fuels and extractive industries, and a failure to reduce their continued exploitation. Over-consumption and greed, profit-seeking, extreme socio-economic inequalities and lack of educational opportunities are entrenched in our social systems, yet solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss are rooted in the same paradigmatic thinking that has led us to this critical juncture.


An emphasis was placed on the urgent need to address inner spiritual values as they relate to our human stewardship and inter-connected care and protection for our natural environment. The prevailing attitudes across faith communities which contribute to a failure of our responsibility towards the living world were critically examined. These attitudes support behaviours and actions that accelerate and exacerbate our current climate crisis, and contribute to human vulnerability to the increasing impacts of climate change. Structural impasses were also cited as an area that also must be urgently rectied, most alarmingly the absence of an international binding agreement for reduction of Green House Gas emissions (GHG). The identification of these key issues rose up through a group analysis of cause and effects, from scientific, political, experiential and spiritual perspectives, inspiring a committed and collective faith-based response. This response recognizes the need to move beyond personal affiliations and identities, towards a cooperative action that embraces solutions embedded within faith values, ecological ethics and climate science.


AUSTRIA                                              Strategic Leadership towards Sustainable Development

BANGLADESH                                    Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development (BASD)

CAMBODIA                                         The NGO Forum on Cambodia
                                                             Oddar Meanchey
                                                             American Friends Service Committee
                                                             Mlup Baitong
                                                             Buddhist Association for Environmental Development


CHINA                                                 China University of Political Science and Law

HUNGARY                                           Strategic Leadership towards Sustainable Development

INDIA                                                   Youth Buddhist Society of India
                                                             Mahabodhi International Meditation Center
                                                             Zero Waste, Thanal
                                                             Foundation of His Sacred Majesty
                                                             Fo Guang Shan - Delhi
                                                             Deer Park Institute
                                                             Sacred Earth Trust
                                                             Mahabodhi International Center, Ladakh
                                                             AV India Group
                                                             Fire"ies Intercultural Centre


INDONESIA                                         Islamic Forum
                                                             Solidalitas Perempuan
                                                             Universitas Pararra
                                                             Community Empowerment Council of Central Board of Muhammadiyah


JAPAN                                                  Global Ecovillage Network in Oceania and Asia
                                                             Juko-in Temple
                                                             Edogawa Citizen’s Network for Thinking about Global Warming (ECNG)
                                                             Niwano Peace Foundation
                                                             Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists


KENYA                                                 Kenya Youth Climate Network

LAOS                                                   Participatory Development Training Center
                                                             Love Natural Resources Association
                                                             Lao Buddhism for Development


MALAYSIA                                           Wayang Alternative Media

MYANMAR                                          Naytha Monastery
                                                             Water, Research and Training Centre (WRTC)
                                                             Asia Light Foundation
                                                             Gaia Sustainable Management Institute
                                                             Myanmar Resource Foundation
                                                             Alein Eing Christian Media
                                                             Yangon Technological University
                                                             Karen Rural Development Organization
                                                             Socially Engaged Monastic Schools
                                                             Kalayana Mitta Foundation
                                                             Metta Development Foundation


NEPAL                                                  WWF Nepal


NEW ZEALAND                                   Waikato University

SOUTH AFRICA                                  TILCEPA Chair– IUCN
                                                             We Have Faith campaign
                                                             Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute
                                                             World Future Council Foundation, African office


SOUTH KOREA                                   Buddhist NGO Coalition of Gwang-Ju, Chunnam
                                                              Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism
                                                             Lotus World
                                                             The Network of Buddhist Civil Society
                                                             The Good Friends
                                                             Lotus World
                                                             Korean Buddhist University Federation
                                                             Namu Counseling Center for Female Rights
                                                             Buddhist Coalition for Economic Justice


SRI LANKA                                           American Mission – Jaffna and Vavuniya
                                                             Sri Lanka Nature Group
                                                             WICPER - Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research
                                                             Environment Legal Council
                                                             Centre for Environmental Justice
                                                             Ministry of Power and Energy
                                                             Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
                                                             Sewalanka Foundation
                                                             Brahma Kumari Trust – Sri Lanka
                                                             Welthungerhilfe – Sri Lanka
                                                             Institute of Tropical Studies and Conservation
                                                             Arthacharya Foundation
                                                             Engaged Buddhists Solidarity for Nature
                                                             Muslim Education Council
                                                             INEB – Sri Lanka
                                                             Anuradhapura Diocese
                                                             Baha’i International - Sri Lanka Branch
                                                             Inter-religious Peace Foundation
                                                             Vavuniya Hindu Temple
                                                             Rainforest Rescue International
                                                             IUCN – Asia
                                                             IUCN – Sri Lanka
                                                             Practical Action – South Asia
                                                             Ocean University of Sri Lanka
                                                             Ruhunu University
                                                             University of Sri Jayawardenapura


THAILAND                                          Dhamma Drop Foundation
                                                             INEB – Secretariat Office
                                                             Spirit in Education Movement
                                                             Sathirakoses-Nagapadipa Foundation
                                                             School for Wellbeing- Towards Organic Asia Program
                                                             Global Ecovillage Network in Oceania and Asia


U.S.A.                                                   The Bridge Fund
                                                             Sustainable Transformation


VIETNAM                                            Social Policy Ecology Research Institute - SPERI

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