Conference to Focus on Role of Religion in Combating Climate Change

Hosted by the Lutheran World Federation, the meeting will focus on managing religious differences in the interests of supporting sustainability and climate change.

Feb. 3, 2020
By Claudie Benjamin

An upcom­ing inter­na­tional, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary con­fer­ence on sus­tain­abil­ity and cli­mate change will be hosted by the Lutheran World Federation, in Bergen, Norway.

Although not directed at resolv­ing spe­cific reli­gious or cul­tural con­flicts that might impact agri­cul­tural indus­tries, par­tic­i­pat­ing speak­ers come from parts of the world — for exam­ple, Palestine and Israel — where the health of indus­tries such as olive grow­ing is inter­twined with reli­gious, cul­tural and polit­i­cal dif­fer­ences.

There is a grow­ing global con­sen­sus about the need to pro­mote envi­ron­men­tal edu­ca­tion across mul­ti­ple sec­tors in order to curb the root causes of cli­mate change.- Reverend Chad Rimmer, Lutheran World Federation

The Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital, located on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, for exam­ple, main­tains its own olive farm of 800 trees and depends partly from sales of olive oil to sup­port the hos­pi­tal.

While the olive trees were not report­edly threat­ened or harmed, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reported back in October that Israeli sol­diers and police offi­cers stormed” the hos­pi­tal and searched the can­cer ward for weapons.

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The IMEMC, a Palestinian news orga­ni­za­tion that works with inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists through­out the region, also described the sol­diers and police who searched the hos­pi­tal as heav­ily armed and armored.”

Accounts such as this demon­strate that mat­ters relat­ing to health­care, agri­cul­ture, cul­ture and pol­i­tics may be unavoid­ably con­nected. They also sug­gest an unspo­ken, sub­text of the upcom­ing con­fer­ence.

Through the data and expe­ri­ence shared by par­tic­i­pants, the con­fer­ence aims to pro­vide new knowl­edge and inspire com­mit­ment among peo­ple who see a crit­i­cal role for reli­gion and belief in deep­en­ing reflec­tion and action on sus­tain­abil­ity and the cli­mate,” the Lutheran World Federation said on its web­site.

Topics slated for dis­cus­sion include eco-the­ol­ogy and envi­ron­men­tal ethics. Spokespeople for the con­fer­ence are empha­siz­ing an inter­faith com­mit­ment to reli­gious ideals relat­ing to the man­age­ment of sus­tain­abil­ity and cli­mate change.

There is a grow­ing global con­sen­sus about the need to pro­mote envi­ron­men­tal edu­ca­tion across mul­ti­ple sec­tors in order to curb the root causes of cli­mate change,” Reverend Chad Rimmer, a pro­gram exec­u­tive at the Lutheran World Federation, said. Religious tra­di­tions have a rich and sig­nif­i­cant voice to con­tribute a faith per­spec­tive to this inter­dis­ci­pli­nary con­ver­sa­tion.”

He empha­sized that find­ing com­mon ground is a key goal for con­fer­ence orga­niz­ers.

The Lutheran World Federation is co-spon­sor­ing this con­fer­ence that will bring the­olo­gians and edu­ca­tors of dif­fer­ent faith tra­di­tions into dia­logue with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from other sec­tors of civil soci­ety in order to con­sider best prac­tices for find­ing com­mon ground in the effort to teach this gen­er­a­tion about the impor­tance of car­ing for the earth,” he said.

Our faith in God’s love for life gives us hope that our gen­er­a­tion can dis­cern effec­tive path­ways to restor­ing out a right, sus­tain­able rela­tion­ship to the earth and all crea­tures,” he added.

Apart from reli­gion, top­ics such as how sus­tain­abil­ity and cli­mate change edu­ca­tion can be best inte­grated within pub­lic school pro­gram­ming will also be addressed at the con­fer­ence, which runs from February 12 to 14.

The Lutheran World Federation is co-spon­sor­ing the event with the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (Bergen Campus), the Church of Norway and the Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway in coop­er­a­tion with the Al Mowafaqa Ecumenical Institute of Theology in Morocco.


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