Category: Earth Ethics

Sustainable, Equitable, Resilient: An Ethical Approach to Global Food Systems

More than 800 million people worldwide could go hungry by 2030. At the same time, agriculture accounts for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural practices damage global biodiversity. We cannot solve climate and biodiversity crises without solving the crisis in global food systems.

The United Nations Food Systems Summit, which will take place this Thursday, September 23, 2021, is an unprecedented opportunity to think critically and develop solutions for current food system dilemmas. As part of its contributions to the Summit, the Food + Faith Coalition has issued a report, “Sustainable, Equitable, Resilient: An Ethical Approach to Global Food Systems.”

“Sustainable, Equitable, Resilient” reframes conventional narratives about our relationship to food and ways to transform food systems. It affirms a universal right to healthy food, addresses the most immediate challenges facing current food systems—reducing meat consumption, halting agricultural deforestation, increasing access to and reducing the costs of nutritious food—and advocates for sustainable, equitable, and resilient agricultural practices.

“Food sovereignty and the right to food are not just slogans,” says Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics. “They are real principles upon which lives and whole cultures depend. This report wisely prioritizes values in global discussions about food.”

“Sustainable, Equitable, Resilient” recognizes the imperative for sustainable agriculture, respect for Indigenous knowledge and local traditions, and the value of reinvigorating local food systems. It advocates bold, decisive action to align global production and consumption within sustainable, regenerative limits, centered in equity and care for the most vulnerable. It emphasizes not only access to healthy and nutritious food but also empowering women and girls, confronting systemic racism and inequality, and supporting localization and smallholders.

“This report identifies the kinds of meaningful change that is needed from the local to the global,” says its principal author, Andrew Schwartz, CEE’s director of sustainability and global affairs. “It synthesizes the repercussions being felt around the world due to our over-consumptive, inequitable and unsustainable food system.”

The report deepens and expands the Interfaith Statement on food systems that the Coalition issued last week. Like the Interfaith Statement, the report builds upon five dialogues held in May and June that examined food systems through the lens of faith and ethics. These dialogues, part of the UN process to engage civil society in the Summit, brought together more than 40 faith leaders, activists, Indigenous advocates, farmers, workers, and policymakers to share insights and develop recommendations. Another 1,500 people took part in the dialogues online.

In addition to Schwartz, the other members of the Faith + Food Coalition Steering Committee—Chris Elisara (World Evangelical Alliance), Gopal Patel (Bhumi Global), Joshua Basofin (Parliament of the World’s Religions), Kelly Moltzen (Interfaith Public Health Network), Marium Husain (Islamic Medical Association of North America) and Steve Chiu (Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation)— contributed to report.

The Faith + Food Coalition is an alliance of seven organizations—Bhumi Global, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, the Center for Earth Ethics, the Islamic Medical Association of North America, Interfaith Public Health Network, Parliament of the World’s Religions, and the World Evangelical Alliance—that formed to contribute to the UN Food Systems Summit.

Learn More & Register for the UN Food Systems Summit

Faith + Food Coalition Interfaith Statement for the United Nations Food Systems Summit

Editor’s Note: The Faith + Food Coalition, of which the Center for Earth Ethics is a member, issued the following Interfaith Statement in advance of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, which will be held on September 23 during the General Assembly in New York. 

Click here if you would like to add your name to the list of signatories.

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Faith + Food Coalition Interfaith Statement on the Occasion of the United Nations Food Systems Summit

Friday, September 17, 2021

Our story of food is one of sacred joy. Interconnectivity. Dignity. Empathy. These values are enshrined in faith, non-faith, spiritual, and Indigenous traditions’ understanding of food. To eat food, especially healthy, nutritious food, is to experience our interdependence with nature, fully embracing the land we live on and those who have nurtured the food that is provided for us to eat.

Food is both a building block of life and a basic human right. Sharing food is an expression of our love, a way we care for each other, exchange culture and history, and remind ourselves that we are a part of the wider world.

Globalization of recent decades has decreased poverty, strengthened women’s rights, and increased food production for a growing global population. Over the same time, however, we have replaced the timeless wisdom of how to nourish the land with extractive industrial models that privilege profit and convenience at the cost of workers, the lands, and the waters. We have ceded this most basic aspect of the human experience to the sphere of private profit, resulting in food “products” that are detrimental to the health of consumers and ecosystems. The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has erased many of the gains made from globalization—especially for women, children, and other vulnerable populations—is but one of the many outcomes of this exchange.

An unsustainable dependency on industrial agriculture pillages the very earth on which we live, emblematic of unregulated economic greed, and an unchecked desire for an endless more. We have become disconnected from our world and our bodies, entertaining illusions of progress while ignoring the suffering of billions. Progress is measured by market indices and GDP, rather than collective prosperity. The urgency of the climate crisis demands that we no longer let the pursuit of profits define what is best.

The once balanced relationship between humans, animals and plants has become corrupted into an exploitative, and abusive relationship. Nowhere is this more manifest than in the case of industrial animal agriculture. From the Confined Animal Feeding Operations fueling the vast majority of animal product production in the Global North, to the industrialized cattle and dairy industry deforesting mass swathes of rainforest in the Global South, scenarios of irresponsible animal agriculture bring untold environmental destruction and inflicts inexcusable suffering onto animals. Our faith values remind us that eating is sacred; it connects the land and our bodies. We must align our actions to these values so that we consider the impact the production of our food makes, commit to consume responsibly, and incorporate more plant-based and locally cultivated foods into our diets.

In this Decade of Action, maintaining the status quo is no longer sufficient to meet the needs of humanity. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report has made it more clear than ever that in order for future generations to flourish, we must reorient our relationship to the Earth and its ecological boundaries.

As the United Nations prepares to convene the 2021 Food Systems Summit, we the undersigned call people of faith, spirituality, and goodwill to make a commitment to uphold the following principles as we work towards building forward a more equitable food system for all life:

  1. Interdependence. Human health is linked to the health of the Earth. We affirm the adoption of the One Health model to create nutritious and climate-resilient food systems.
  2. Truth. Science and faith are not at odds. They inform, enrich, complement, and challenge each other in the pursuit of truth.
  3. Reverence. Our traditions teach us that the Earth and the food it provides is sacred and serves to nourish our minds and bodies. We must reconnect our rituals with an ethical and ecologically sound food system with minimal food waste.
  4. Respect. We must respect and protect the wisdom of Indigenous traditions on sustainable ecosystems, healthy food systems, and safeguarding biodiversity.
  5. Compassion. We must ensure that marginalized communities and workers at risk of being left behind are centered and uplifted as part of a just recovery and sustainability initiatives
  6. Solidarity. We only have one common planetary home, and all life is dependent upon it. We should set aside our differences to work together as one human family for the common good
  7. Empowerment. Resilience lies within ourselves.

We call upon Heads of State and Governments at the Food Systems Summit to implement bold and decisive actions to align their countries’ production and consumption to sustainable, regenerative outcomes, centered in equity and care for the most vulnerable by:

  1. Committing to the equitable transformation of food systems that centers indigenous and smallholder farmers at the heart of our development
  2. Investing in innovative, evidence-based solutions from Indigenous and faith communities and the organizations that support them, targeted at building the food systems’ resilience without acquiescing to corporate capture of critical infrastructure.
  3. Providing policy, innovation, educational, and business opportunities for underrepresented food system actors, uplifting traditional agriculture in research methodology.
  4. Building critical alliances among farmers, businesses, NGOs, governments, Indigenous communities, and faith groups.
  5. Restoring degraded land and protecting ecosystems while connecting farmers to fair and equitable markets to produce better health, social, economic, and ecological outcomes.
  6. Incentivizing and subsidizing healthy, climate resilient, nutritious, local plant based foods growing practices to allow competitiveness with global markets at the local level.
  7. Re-aligning tax systems to drive immediate changes, such as taxing foods that lead to undesirable health outcomes, as well as taxing excessive plastic packaging, particularly the single use plastics that are embedded into industrial food delivery systems
  8. Regulating the marketing of food and beverages to children, preventing non-nutritious, chemically dominated foods from being sold as healthy substitutes to real food.
  9. Protecting, supporting and promoting breastfeeding, which is the first food system that provides the ideal first food to the most vulnerable human beings.
  10. Promoting and encouraging the local generation of knowledge to address food security, empowering farmers and youth, as the agents of change to play an active role in creating solutions that address the context and reality of local needs.
  11. Guaranteeing food security through sustainability, nutrition, and equity rather than chasing untested biotechnologies and GMOs to augment food systems, innovating with a moral compass.

We are committed to the United Nations’ vision of transformed, sustainable food systems and the UN’s aspirations to create a more equitable, livable future for all. You may look to us as continued partners of good faith as we all endeavor to build a brighter tomorrow.

Gratefully,

Drafting Team
Andrew Schwartz, Center for Earth Ethics
Chris Elisara, World Evangelical Alliance
Gopal Patel, Bhumi Global
Joshua Basofin, Parliament of the World’s Religions
Kelly Moltzen, Interfaith Public Health Network
Marium Husain, Islamic Medical Association of North America
Steve Chiu, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

Signatories
50by40
Abibinsroma Foundation
American Indian Law Alliance
Bhumi Global
Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary
College of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University
Creation Justice Ministries
Critica
Franciscan Action Network
Global One 2015
Golden Leaf Community Development Center, Inc.
Hazon
HolisticMom, MD
Interfaith Public Health Network
Islamic Medical Association of North America
Lyla June Johnston
NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns – NY
Parliament of the World’s Religions
Sacred Lands Coalition
Sustainability Department, The Sisters of St. Joseph
Temple of Understanding
Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue, Iona College
Unitarian Universalist Association
University of Colombo
University of Jordan
Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture (WANDA)
Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology (FORE)

 

The Drafting Team extends thanks to our readers and editors: Becky O’Brien, Daniel Perell, Grove Harris, Lina Mahy, Meera Baindur, and Nate DeGroot.

Faith + Food Coalition to Issue Interfaith Statement before UN Food Summit

“Food is both a building block of life and a basic human right.”

This fundamental truth underpins the “Interfaith Statement” for the United Nations Food Systems Summit, which will be presented at a virtual launch on Friday, September 17, at 11 a.m. EDT.

REGISTER NOW

The Statement is the culmination the Coalition’s engagement in the formal process leading up to the United Nations Food Systems Summit on September 23 during the UN General Assembly in New York. Over the summer, the Faith + Food Coalition held five dialogues, and three follow up events, to articulate values-based perspectives to the Summit. The Statement is product of those efforts.

“The Interfaith Statement correctly moves values to the forefront in our global conversation about food,” says Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics. “The UN should heed this call and use the Food Systems Summit to advance the equitable and agroecological practices that are healthy for both people and planet.”

The Statement will be delivered to the Heads of the Food Systems Summit as well as key Member States. The UN already has indicated that it will include the Interfaith Statement in the Summit’s official record.

The launch event will bring together members of the faith community and civil society to present key findings from the Coalition’s dialogues, review the Statement’s Calls for Action, and outline next steps for faith-based organizations following the Summit. Scheduled speakers include:

  • Martin Frick – Deputy to the Special Envoy for the UN Food Systems Summit 2021
  • Karenna Gore – Founder and Executive Director, Center for Earth Ethics
  • Bibi la Luz González – Founder, Eat Better Wa’ik
  • Meera Baindur – Associate Professor of Philosophy, Manipal University Jaipur
  • Felipe Carazo – Head of Public Sector Engagement at Tropical Forest Alliance, World Economic Forum
  • Nate DeGroot – Associate Director and Spiritual & Program Director, Hazon Detroit
  • Mona Polacca – Senior Fellow, Original Caretakers Program, Center for Earth Ethics

Andrew Schwartz, director of sustainability and global affairs at the Center for Earth Ethics, will moderate.

The launch event will be broadcast on Zoom, with simultaneous livestreams on Facebook and Twitter. Those wishing to participate via Zoom are encouraged to register in advance.

The Statement was months in the making. In preparing for the Summit, the UN encouraged civil society groups to hold dialogues to contribute outside perspectives. The Coalition, an alliance of seven organizations, formed to take part in that process. The Coalition aimed to bring voices from faith-based groups, Indigenous communities, small farmers and food producers, and underrepresented communities to the process.

In May and June, the Coalition hosted five dialogues corresponding to each of the five UN “Action Tracks” for the Food Systems Summit. The goal was to use the dialogues to examine global food systems critically, using the lens of faith and values.

Although billed by the UN as a “people’s summit,” the UN’s process raised concerns from the start. “The process surrounding the Summit has caused serious concern from observers and those of us who have participated in dialogues,” said Schwartz, who convened the Coalition. “While the Summit has welcomed unprecedented input from the civil society and key stakeholders, there is an obvious and concerning bias towards the corporation actors and methodologies that have led to the problems that the Summit is supposed to address.”

Over the summer, the Coalition’s efforts attracted the attention of Summit organizers and other multilateral organizations. The WHO invited the Coalition to present its findings at a webinar held on June 10. The UN invited the Coalition to present an online forum as an official “side event” to the Pre-Summit in Rome on July 27. And, in one of the last preliminary events before the Summit itself, on September 2 the Center for Earth Ethics and the UN co-hosted a “global dialogue” about faith-based perspectives on food systems.

The Statement was drafted by Schwartz along with Chris Elisara (World Evangelical Alliance), Gopal Patel (Bhumi Global), Joshua Basofin (Parliament of the World’s Religions), Kelly Moltzen (Interfaith Public Health Network), Marium Husain (Islamic Medical Association of North America) and Steve Chiu (Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation). Dialogue participants Becky O’Brien, Daniel Perell, Grove Harris, Lina Mahy,  Meera Baindur, and Nate DeGroot also contributed.

The Faith + Food Coalition (www.faithandfood.earth) is an alliance of seven organizations—Bhumi Global, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, the Center for Earth Ethics, the Islamic Medical Association of North America, Interfaith Public Health Network, Parliament of the World’s Religions, and the World Evangelical Alliance—that bring voices from faith-based groups, Indigenous communities, small farmers and food producers, and underrepresented communities to the UN Food Systems Summit.

REGISTER NOW

 

NB. This story has been updated to include comments from Karenna Gore and Andrew Schwartz.

Remarks by Karenna Gore on the Global Biodiversity Framework

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) World Conservation Congress

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

 

Faith communities are calling on governments to strengthen the Global Biodiversity Framework. For too long, economic development has come at the expense of Nature. It is driven by a mindset that measures value according to short term monetary gain, no matter how much pollution, depletion or inequity results.

The scale and pace of this pattern has brought us to the brink of unimaginable loss. This loss is indeed economic, in part; all wealth is derived from the biosphere. But it is more than that too. It is cultural, moral, and spiritual. To be effective, the Framework must reflect the totality and urgency of what is at stake.

Faith traditions are diverse but they share a sense that values run deeper than politics or price-tags, that life (including nonhuman life) has meaning, and that there is some form of higher power to which our actions are ultimately accountable.

From this viewpoint — which has corollaries in secular thought — we did not create other species and we have no right to destroy them. They have a right to exist. The Framework should reflect those rights of nature and the rights of future generations. It must also secure the rights of the Indigenous peoples and local communities who are courageous guardians of so much of what remains. Indigenous peoples must give free prior and informed consent for any project (including any conservation project) in their territories.

I am honored to be with you and convey my strong support for this call. The Center for Earth Ethics draws from the world’s faith and wisdom traditions to pursue the changes in policy and culture necessary to create a world that values the long term health of the whole community of life.

We must look at the level of cause, not just the level of effect. That means regulation of the most serious drivers of biodiversity loss — such as the current industrialized food systems and the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. It means investment in positive solutions such as ecosystem restoration, which can bolster carbon sinks to fight climate change and provide good work for people who need it. It also means changing social norms that encourage gross overconsumption and waste by some while tolerating deprivation for others. Life on Earth is interrelated and we need reciprocity and balance to sustain it.

In closing I note that diverse faith groups have been carefully reviewing the First Draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and will put forward their response soon. Please stay tuned for that.

Thank you.

UN and CEE to Host Global Interfaith Dialogue on September 2

Access to food is a human right, but it remains out of reach for far too many. On Thursday, September 2, at 4 p.m. East Africa Time (9 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time), the Center for Earth Ethics will host the “Global Inter-faith Dialogue on Food Systems” which will address shared values and collaborations to improve food access, just transitions to achieve food security, and the next steps countries must take to achieve equitable food systems.

Confirmed speakers at the dialogue include the following:

  • Dr. Meera Baindur, philosophy professor and ethics expert at Globalethics.net
  • Rev. Dr Sabu K. Cherian, bishop of the Madhya Kerala Diocese of the Church of South India
  • Steve Chiu, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation’s representative at the United Nations
  • Karenna Gore, founder and executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics
  • Anwar Khan, president of Islamic Relief USA
  • Lyla June Johnston, Indigenous public speaker, artist, scholar and community organizer of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages
  • Rev. Andrew Morley, president and CEO of World Vision International

Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit, and Andrew Schwartz, director of sustainability and global affairs at the Center for Earth Ethics, are the dialogue’s co-conveners. Dr. Manoj Kurian of the World Council of Churches is the dialogue’s curator.

The Global Inter-faith Dialogue on Food Systems will be the latest in a series of CEE-organized events leading up to the UN Food Systems Summit in New York on September 23, during the UN General Assembly. The dialogue is sponsored by hosted by CEE, Bread for the World, Islamic Relief Worldwide, the World Council of Churches, and World Vision.

In May and June, the Faith + Food Coalition convened five dialogues—organized along the Summit’s official Action Tracks—to offer faith-based, ethical perspectives on the global food crisis. The five dialogues explored how faith communities—including Indigenous communities—could support the transformation of global food systems toward something that was truly sustainable, accessible, equitable, and regenerative. Subsequently, CEE convened meetings to discuss faith-based approaches to food security for the WHO and for the United Nations Pre-Summit in Rome.

The Global Dialogue will be an opportunity for grassroots organizers, farmers, food advocates, and policymakers to share insights, critique the status quo, and develop holistic, inclusive recommendations.

We will post details—including speaker biographies—as they become available. This event is open to all at no charge, but registration is required.

REGISTER HERE

Editor’s Note. This post has been updated to reflect the dialogue’s official title as well as the list of participants.

Gore Speaks about Faith Communities, Values, and Development at G20 Interfaith Forum

On Wednesday, July 14, Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics, was a panelist at a webinar, “Interfaith Initiatives to Achieve the Agenda 2030 Environmental Goals,” sponsored by the G20 Interfaith Forum. The other panelists were Arthur Dahl, president of the International Environment Forum, and Astrid Shomaker, director for global sustainable development in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment. Pasquale Annicchino of the Bruno Kessler Foundation moderated the discussion.

Listen to the panel discussion.

“Everyone is experiencing climate change,” Gore said. “It is important to acknowledge inequities and those who are suffering and dying right now.”

She emphasized two global megatrends in play: depletion, including the deforestation of the Amazon, and pollution, most importantly the rise in greenhouse gas emissions. “This is about more than data and science,” she said. “It’s about belief systems and values.” Even the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Gore noted, have sometimes been used “to justify the continuation and even expansion of fossil fuels.”

“Money is often confused with virtue,” Gore said. But she sees faith communities playing three main roles in reframing the conversation. They can be prophetic, in the sense of “telling the truth” about climate and sustainability during a worldwide “crisis of fact and knowledge.” They can be pastoral, being there in communities, caring for those who are suffering, and helping “shepherd people into new ways of being in ecological balance.” And they can be practical, mobilizing their organizational and physical resources.

In his remarks, Dahl noted the history of religious groups being engaged with environmental issues going back to the 1970s. He emphasized the challenges in translating global goals to local situations and in measuring development according to values, not GDP. “How do you measure progress on values?” he asked.

Shomaker offered a policy perspective, noting that her remarks came on the same day that the EU announced its ambitious “Fit at 55” legislative agenda to cut emission of greenhouse gases by 55% and make Europe “the first climate-neutral continent.” The EU is embracing “the people’s agenda,” she said, which means acting with “a sense of urgency” about pollution. It also means embracing equity, not only equity within society (including respecting women’s knowledge and roles) but also intergenerational equity, recognizing that this generation has a responsibility to generations to come.

“We’re all in this together,” Annicchino concluded. “Nobody is saved alone.”

Wednesday’s webinar was sponsored by the G20 Interfaith Forum, a network of religiously linked institutions and initiatives that engage on global agendas, especially the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It was the fifth session of the group’s “Ahead of the 2021 Italy G20 Summit” series.

See also: Interfaith Initiatives to Achieve the Agenda 2030 Environmental Goals: Meeting Summary

Karenna Gore and Hildur Palsdottir on Reframing the Climate Crisis

 

Landmark and Transition Town Port Washington presentation with Karenna Gore, founder and director of The Center for Earth Ethics. Moderated by Hildur Palsdottir. This program is a part of a five-part Conversations from Main Street Climate Action Series with the goal of introducing community-centered climate solutions while also promoting individual action. Small changes to our daily routines can have lasting and impact on our environment and future.

March 18th tune in for CEE Advisor, Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountain keeper!

Click the links below for more info and registration for these programs.

Thursday, March 18 Regeneration Revolution

Thursday, April 1 Break Free from Plastics!

Thursday, April 15 “Green” Legislation

Thursday, April 29 Envisioning 2030

The Climate Action Series is presented in partnership with Transition Town Port Washington.

More info: https://bit.ly/ClimateActionSeries

Faith and Climate Crisis in the Biden Administration

In a Video Recorded for FÉ NO CLIMA, Center for Earth Ethics director Karenna Gore comments on the approximation between Faith and the Climate Crisis in the Biden Administration.

The founder and director of the Center for Earth Ethics at the Union’s Theological Seminary in New York, Karenna Gore, believes that the rapprochement between “religion” and “climate crisis” will be an important aspect of Joe Biden’s policies, president elected from the USA. The inauguration of Biden and deputy Kamala Harris on Wednesday, January 20, is considered a historic day for the climate agenda.

In a statement recorded especially for the IV Fé no Clima Meeting, at the end of last year, she affirms that, during the elections, Biden “made it clear that the climate is a priority” and stressed the importance of the appointment of the former Secretary of State, John Kerry, for the role of Special Representative on Climate Change for the new government. The message to the event’s participants is now available on Fé no Clima’s YouTube channel .

“President Joe Biden will trust God and will also rely on science to guide our work on Earth to protect God’s creation,” said Kerry last November, at the event that announced part of the new presidential office.

In the opinion of Karenna Gore, the new climate representative’s speech “signals and implies that involving religion will be crucial to the approach that the Biden administration will take in climate action”.

According to her, the work at the center she runs is focused on seeking solutions to the ecological crisis of the faith and traditions of indigenous peoples. “We work through education, convening, public speaking and movement building,” he explained. Recently, Fé no Clima, an Iser project, started a dialogue to deepen relations with the Center for Earth Ethics.

Regarding the link between beliefs and discussions about the environment, the activist says that “religion can create a sense of belonging that goes beyond political or partisan alignment and guides us to be the best version of ourselves”.

And he highlighted the importance of religion in social transformations. “Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that the teaching of the scriptures had a role in ending apartheid in South Africa,” he said, also celebrating the influence of Martin Luther King Jr, pastor of the Baptist Church, in the fight for civil rights in his country.

US returns to Paris Agreement

“I am also very excited to be speaking to you at a time when my country, the United States, announced that we will again participate in the Paris Agreement, a very important 2015 treaty in which all countries in the world have come together to create a plan to really face this serious existential crisis and overcome it,” said the director.

Biden made a commitment to return to the Paris climate change agreement on the first day of governing. The measure is part of a package of actions that will revert, on the day of inauguration, several measures of the Trump administration for this and other topics.

Read the full speech

In the video recorded for the event participants, Karenna Gore also pays homage to the environmentalist Alfredo Sirkis, who died last year. In addition to being a friend of the Gore family, Sirkis was director of Centro Brasil no Clima, a Brazilian partner of the Climate Reality Project, an organization created by former US vice president, Al Gore.

Published on: 20/01/2021 – # Fé no Clima

Some Thoughts on Inauguration Day 2021

Like so many others, I have deep and mixed emotions on this Inauguration Day. This awful chapter is coming to a close and there is a lot to celebrate about the incoming administration, but there is also wreckage upon wreckage to examine, and it goes all the way back to the foundations of our nation. In a moving ceremony at the Reflecting Pool last night, with 400 lights shining to represent the 400,000 lives lost to Covid-19, President-Elect Joe Biden said “to heal, we must remember.” This wisdom is itself a guiding light forward.

Rev Dr. William Barber II is among those who have explained that the kind of mob violence we saw at the Capitol on January 6 has a long history of terrorizing communities in this country. The symbols on display on January 6th reflected the white supremacist ideology behind the breathtaking sense of entitlement to desecrate whatever sanctuary it claims. While not all of us can ever fully grasp it, we must acknowledge the trauma that this touches and exploits.

There was also a religious element to the insurrection. As many have noted, there were prayers and signs and shouts that invoked God, the Bible and Jesus. This too must be examined. To say that White Christian nationalism has always been a force in this country is an understatement. As many have documented (and I touched on in a blog last spring), the presence of people of European heritage on this land was launched in large part by proclamations from the Vatican in the mid-15th century that invoked the Bible for authority to “conquer, vanquish and subdue.” The way that American history has been taught (the revanchist 1776 project is a reminder) tends to downplay the extent to which dehumanization (and even demonization) of Black and Indigenous peoples worked in tandem with the narrative that God ordained the presence and reign of people of European descent (who came to be known as “white”) in this land.  

Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas calls it “racial-religious synchronicity.” In Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, she brings plenty of “receipts,” as they say, painful and important to read. For the field of earth ethics, it is important to note the construction of whiteness included language exalting ecological domination as part of the proof of racial superiority. For example, in 1775 in Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, Benjamin Franklin wrote approvingly of “scouring our planet, by clearing woods, and so making our side of the globe reflect a brighter light” in making his argument that America should not “darken its people.” 

Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, speaking in 1846, at the height of the myth of Manifest Destiny: “It would seem that the White race alone received the divine command, to subdue and replenish the earth! For it is the only race that has obeyed it, the only one that hunts out new and distant lands, and even a New World, to subdue and replenish.” There are unmistakable echoes of this sentiment among the MAGA crowds today. At the Republican National Convention this past August, Rep. Matt Gaetz proclaimed: “The frontier, the horizon, even the stars belong to us.” On January 6th, a current Senator from Missouri,  Josh Hawley gave a salute to the stirring mob as he entered the Capitol to dispute the clear outcome of a free and fair election in which  the candidates who stood for an end to systemic racism (and the assault on our climate) prevailed.

On a personal note, I feel reverberations from family experience during every Presidential election cycle, but this one has been especially so. I did not take the time to consider it in depth until idle chatter at the beginning of a zoom meeting a last week prompted me. Someone said, “oh I remember when this whole thing was happening with your father,” and someone else said something like “when this was all happening in 2000 . . . ” It was not the time to articulate it, but the details came rushing back to mind. There was a stark contrast between that occasion and recent events. In 2000, the candidate who won the popular vote and only lost the electoral college by a razor thin margin in just one state made a gracious concession and gave a heartfelt blessing to his rival. And let’s not forget that the circumstances in Florida in 2000 left plenty of room to stoke ongoing controversy and fan flames of division, if he so chose. My father attended that Inauguration, of course, and though he was not onstage today, I feel moved to honor him for his role in upholding American democracy.

Now that Trump is leaving office in disgrace, we must have the courage to look at what he has revealed about us as a nation. We can remember that racism and ecological destruction were joined in a mistaken belief system that was present at the founding, but need not define us any longer. This administration is off to an excellent start with these executive orders that restore the U.S. to global leadership on climate, respect Indigenous people and address environmental justice. There are several other urgent actions they should take, including stopping Line 3, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the mining of Oak Flat, a sacred site for the Apache. All economic development decisions must be made with an ethical lens that includes long term vision. There is also a need for a major revitalization of civics education, not only to enrich our collective knowledge of how a healthy democracy functions, but also to help us remember and heal the wounds that almost caused us to lose it.

As National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman spoke today in The Hill We Climb: 

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it
Somehow we do it.
Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

p.s.
I also want to share Amanda Gorman’s “EarthRise” which she performed for Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality in 2018.

Earth Charter and Ecological Civilization Webinar Series

On September 10th, CEE Director Karenna Gore, joined speakers Mary Evelyn Tucker and Meijun Fan along with moderator, Andrew Schwartz to begin a conversation on Ecological Civilization inspired from China’s adoption of this directive into their constitution. Please enjoy this first webinar in a 4-part series beginning with Values & Worldviews: Ecological Civilization as Mutual Flourishing.

Webinar Series: Earth Charter and Ecological Civilization

A new kind of collaboration, toward a new kind of civilization, is needed if we are to shift humanity away from the current civilization that is indifferent to the needs of the most vulnerable and that predominantly has lifestyles and production patterns that destroys the life support systems that sustain life on Earth.

Two decades ago, after years of international collaboration and with input from visionaries around the world, a document known as the Earth Charter was drafted as a vision of hope and a call to action. The 16 principles of the Earth Charter provide a framework for the long-term well-being of people and the planet.

In 2012, China adopted Ecological Civilization in its National Constitution and mandated its incorporation into “all aspects of economic, political, cultural, and social progress.” This call for civilizational change raises awareness of the need for an alternative paradigm. But, what is “ecological civilization” and how can it be achieved?

Now, as we enter the third decade of the new millennium, there is urgency in generating an intercultural and intersectoral dialogue about the meaning, principles, metrics, vision, and values that ought to drive humanity towards ecological civilization.

Toward this end, a group of global partners are coming together to organize a series of webinars to exchange views, deepen discourse, and hopeful stimulate further collaboration. This series of four webinars, to take place between September and December, is being organized as a collaborative effort between the Earth Charter International, University for Peace, Pace Center for Green Sci-Teck and Development, the Institute of Ecological Civilization, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), and the Center for Process Studies.

The following questions will be addressed:

  • What is an “Ecological Civilization?”
  • What values and worldviews are needed to ground a paradigm shift towards that direction?
  • Can the Earth Charter principles provide a framework for building an ecological civilization?
  • How to cultivate the consciousness needed, and how to turn this new consciousness into action?
  • What are the driving forces of the current civilization and what could be the drivers of “Ecological Civilization”?
  • What is the role of education, policies, and international collaboration to turn Ecological Civilization a reality?

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