Category: News

Faith for Earth Aims to Shape Global Environmental Policy

Faith for Earth Dialogue
Online
Monday, February 21 – Friday, March 4

———

The next few weeks could prove decisive for global environmental policymaking. The fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly will be held online and in Nairobi, Kenya, from February 28 through March 2. Hosted by the UN Environment Programme, UNEA-5 will bring together representatives of the UN’s 193 Member States, businesses, civil society and other stakeholders “to agree on policies to address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.”

How can faith-based organizations ensure that their voices are heard when global policymakers meet in Nairobi? 

To amplify the voices of faith-based organizations at UNEA-5, UNEP’s Faith for Earth Initiative has organized the Faith for Earth Dialogue, a set of more than 25 online panels and conversations from February 21 to March 4. The goal is to demonstrate “the power and potential of faith-based organizations and faith leaders in shaping the discussions at UNEA as well as engaging in policy dialogue with other stakeholders.”

“Equity needs to be at the front of every conversation during UNEA-5 if policymakers want to create meaningful action on  the climate crisis,” says Andrew Schwartz, director of sustainability and global affairs. “In this unprecedented moment, the Faith for Earth Dialogue is an important opportunity for the Center for Earth Ethics and other organizations to help shape global climate policy.”

CEE’s participation in the Faith for Earth Dialogue includes the following sessions (all times New York): 

  • On Monday, February 21, 9:30 a.m., at “Faith for Earth: A Call for Action.” CEE Advisory Board member Kusumita Pedersen, chair of the Interfaith Center of New York and a trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, is a panelist.
  • On Wednesday, February 23, 8 a.m., at “Working Group on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration.” Andrew Schwartz and Gopal Patel, a senior advisor, are panelists.
  • On Friday, February 25, 9:30 a.m., at “Faith, Values & Ethics in Environmental Governance.” Kusumita Pedersen and Mona Polacca, a senior fellow at CEE, are panelists.
  • On Wednesday, March 2, 8 a.m., at “Faith and Food: Nature Positive Solutions for a Flourishing World.” Andrew Schwartz organized and will lead the session. (Special registration link for this session only: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_hDhq_ATDQLycXh5TDAwFpg?fbclid=IwAR3-_lPAtegBXBZNdzIEE77soY97ZPa8WNJUBfgZimHxzfxhHSpYhG0ZUpU.)
  • On Friday, March 4, 8 a.m., at “Faiths Respond to Stockholm+50 & [email protected]Gopal Patel is a panelist. Karenna Gore, CEE’s founder and executive director, will moderate the session.

The Faith for Earth Dialogue is open to all stakeholders. Register today at Faith for Earth Dialogue

 

NB. This post has been edited to correct the Faith for Food Dialogue start date, to include a new featured image, and to include a hyperlink to the 2 March “Faith and Food” session.

 

Virtual Event | Ecocide: A Discussion of Law and Ethics, January 20, 2022

Ecocide: A Discussion of Law and Ethics
Thursday, January 20, 2022
VIRTUAL EVENT
9 a.m. Los Angeles | 12 p.m. New York & Quito | 6 p.m. The Hague

REGISTER TODAY

Mass environmental devastation affects us all, even if the damage is inflicted within national borders. Yet as it stands today international law is inadequate to address extreme, willful damage to the environment.

Now, a global effort is underway to make international law a more powerful mechanism to protect our planet. In June 2021, the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide defined ecocide as the “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.”

This definition is an initial step to making ecocide an international crime. At present, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court lists four international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Recognizing ecocide as the fifth would create, in the Panel’s words, “a new and practical legal tool” to preserve and protect the Earth, our common home.

Left to right: Hugo Echeverria, Kate Mackintosh, Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Karenna Gore

On Thursday, January 20, 2022, at noon (New York time), “Ecocide: A Discussion of Law and Ethics” will assemble international lawyers and scholars to discuss the Panel’s efforts to define ecocide as well as to examine the significance of shifting to an eco-centric framework.

Scheduled speakers include attorney and consultant Hugo Echeverria, an expert in the environmental rule of law, wildlife crime, and the rights of Nature; Kate Mackintosh, inaugural executive director of the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law and a deputy chair of the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide; and Olivia Swaak-Goldman, executive director of the Wildlife Justice Commission, who  has published extensively on international criminal law and humanitarian law. Karenna Gore, CEE’s founder and executive director, organized the session and will serve as moderator.

This event is sponsored by the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law, and the Wildlife Justice Commission.

REGISTER TODAY

Panelist Biographies

Hugo Echeverria has worked in environmental law since 2001, with an emphasis on constitutional approaches to biodiversity conservation, the environmental rule of law, wildlife crime, and the rights of Nature, areas in which he practices as an attorney and a consultant. He also lectures on environmental law in Ecuador, at undergraduate and graduate levels. Between 2014 and 2017, he coordinated the minor on environmental law at the Faculty of Law of Universidad San Francisco de Quito, where he currently lectures in Environmental Law.

Karenna Gore is the founder and executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Karenna formed CEE in 2015 to address the moral and spiritual dimensions of the climate crisis. Working at the intersection of faith, ethics, and ecology, she guides the Center’s public programs, educational initiatives, and movement-building. She also is an ex officio faculty member of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Her previous experience includes serving as director of Union Forum, a platform for theological scholarship to engage with civic discourse and social change.

Kate Mackintosh is the inaugural executive director of the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law. She has held multiple roles at the UN international criminal tribunals, worked in post-conflict human rights field operations in Bosnia and in Rwanda, and was for eight years legal adviser and then head of humanitarian affairs for the international NGO, Médecins sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders. Most recently she was a deputy co-chair of the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide.

Olivia Swaak-Goldman, the executive director of the Wildlife Justice Commission, has 25 years’ experience in international justice and diplomacy, has published extensively on issues of international criminal law and international humanitarian law, and served as a lecturer for both Harvard and Leiden Universities. Prior to joining the WJC, Olivia was head of the International Relations Task Force of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Senior Legal Advisor at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among other roles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will take place online on Cork Community Television from Thursday 25th November 2021 until Sunday 28th November 2021. There will be live events, including Q&A’s with the interviewees as well as some live music at the Maldron Hotel in Shandon, Cork, Ireland during the course of the Festival. These are subject strictly to the Covid 19 regulations specified at the time and the attendance will be limited.

Please join us for any of the online and hybrid events happening this week!

Programme of online events on Cork Community Television

For the 2021 Tenth Anniversary Festival Launch, CEE Original Caretakers Senior Fellow, Mona Polacca, joined Spirit of Mother Jones Festival Committee organizer Dr. John Barimo for a special online event. See “Restoring Our Connection to Nature” with Mona Polacca below or on the Mother Jones site here.

This invitation was inspired by the outpouring of support from the Irish people to the Hopi and Navajo Covid-19 Relief Fund. Donations came with heartfelt messages:

“We will never forget your kindness to us when we had less than nothing… in Solidarity from Ireland.”

“In times of great suffering like now, if we could all stand together and support each other… It will make a difference. The generosity shown to the Irish during our famine did that. I want to honour that gesture and help now.”

“In thanks for our fellow Indigenous people’s, the Choctaw Nation, aid during the Great Hunger in Ireland.”

The fund has raised over 7.5 million dollars in support of Hopi and Navajo Nations.

This online interview with Mona Polacca of Hopi, Tewa and Havasupai traditions, took place at the launch of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, 14th October 2021. We were gratefully joined by two University College Cork (UCC) students from the Choctaw Nation, Claire Young and Austin West. A good meeting was had by all.

The discussion was held as part of UCC Community Week in a collaboration between the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival with the UCC Department of Civic and Community Engagement and the Center for Earth Ethics in New York City.

This special launch event was coordinated by UCC’s Dr John Barimo and CEE’s Shannon MD Smith. Many thanks to Mr. Ger O’Mahony, Coordinator and Co-Founder of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival for inviting us to participate in such a meaningful way and for keeping the spirit of Mother Jones, the spirit of justice alive for people and the Earth.

The exchange between the Choctaw and Irish during the Great Famine is memorialized by the ‘Kindred Spirits’ memorial in Cork and in the etchings on the NYC Hunger Memorial.

CEE Fall Update

View in your browser

Join us TONIGHT! October 26th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm ET, for a screening of The Ants and The Grasshopper. This new film, directed by Raj Patel, follows Anita Chitaya as she battles hunger, sexism and climate change in her home in Malawi, through the heartland of the US midwest, to communities of people of color in Detroit, to the White House. Despite a language barrier, she’s able to reach patriarchs, climate skeptics, and deniers of equality through her fluency with the Bible.

Before the film screening, there will be a welcome by the film’s co-director, Raj Patel. Immediately following the screening there will be a panel discussion moderated by the Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union. The panel will feature the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, director of the Kairos Center, Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics, and Francine Johnson of the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign and Mileston Cooperative.

RSVP HERE


More Upcoming Events…

On Friday, October 29, at 12:15 p.m. British Summer Time (7:15 a.m. in New York), Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics, will deliver the opening address at “Uniting the World to Tackle Climate Change: Perspectives from Religion and Politics,” an international conference hosted by the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews.  REGISTER


 

Postcolonial Poetics: Aliou Niang on the Human-Nature Relationship Friday, November 5, 2021 | 12 pm ET

Join Aliou Niang, associate professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary, for a talk on the human-nature relationship.

Columbia University Professor of French and of Philosophy Souleymane Diagne, who also directs the Institute of African Studies at Columbia, will offer a response to Niang’s presentation. Rev. Petra Thombs, executive director of the Ramapough Lenape Nation Community Center in Mahwah, N.J., will provide a reflection.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University.

REGISTER


From Our Friends…


Join our Mailing List!

Gore to Deliver Opening Address at International Scholars Climate Conference on October 29

“Uniting the World to Tackle Climate Change: Perspectives from Religion and Politics”
Friday, October 29, 2021 – Online
7:15 a.m. New York | 12:15 p.m. Scotland | 1:15 p.m. Paris

On Friday, October 29, at 12:15 p.m. British Summer Time (7:15 a.m. in New York), Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics, will deliver the opening address at “Uniting the World to Tackle Climate Change: Perspectives from Religion and Politics,” an international conference hosted by the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews.

The three-day virtual conference will address the theme of the United Nations Climate Conference, or COP26, which begins on November 1, in relation to religion and politics. Scholars from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas are scheduled to participate. The COP26 CSRP Scholars Conference is being hosted in conjunction with Scholars at the Peripheries (a group of scholars from the Global South) and Laudato Si’ International (a group that has been working to understand and deliver the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care of the planet as the common home).

Aliou Niang to Discuss Postcolonial Biblical Criticism on November 5

Postcolonial Poetics: Aliou Niang on the Human-Nature Relationship
Friday, November 5, 2021 – Online
9 a.m. Los Angeles | 12 p.m. New York | 4 p.m. Dakar | 5 p.m. Paris

REGISTER TODAY

How can we understand the Bible and other faith teachings in the context of today’s ecological crisis? How can we restore traditional practices that once directed a mutual relationship among God, humans and nature?

These are among the questions raised by Aliou Niang, associate professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary, in “A Poetics of Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: God, Human-Nature Relationship, and Negritude” (2019). Niang will discuss these and other issues raised in his book in a webinar on Friday, November 5, at noon Eastern Time.

Left to right: Aliou Niang, Souleymane Diagne, Petra Thombs

A native of Senegal and member of the region’s Diola people, Niang describes his book as “a humble reading of Scripture in conversation with Diola faith traditions.” He integrates the work of Léopold Sédar Senghor, the architect of the concept of Négritude, and other postcolonial theorists to “reposition the colonized” and learn from “people who have been negotiating life with nature since time immemorial and were aware of climate change since its onset.”

At the discussion, Columbia University Professor of French and of Philosophy Souleymane Diagne, who also directs the Institute of African Studies at Columbia, will offer a response to Niang’s presentation. Rev. Petra Thombs, executive director of the Ramapough Lenape Nation Community Center in Mahwah, N.J., will provide a reflection.

“Postcolonial Poetics: Aliou Niang on the Human-Nature Relationship” is co-sponsored by the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University.

This webinar is free, but registration is required.

REGISTER TODAY 

 

PARTICIPANT BIOGRAPHIES

Aliou Cisse Niang is associate professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Before joining Union, he served as assistant and associate professor of New Testament at Memphis Theological Seminary in Tennessee, where he was named The Rev. Dr. James L. Netters Associate Professor of New Testament and received The Paul R. Brown Distinguished Teaching Award. His previous books include “Faith and Freedom in Galatia and Senegal” (2009) and “Text, Image and Christians in the Graeco-Roman World: A Festschrift in Honor of David Lee Balch” (2012), which he co-edited with Carolyn Osiek.

Souleymane Bachir Diagne is professor of French and of philosophy at Columbia University, where he also directs the Institute for African Studies. Before joining Columbia, he taught philosophy for many years at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar (Senegal) and at Northwestern University. He is the author of “African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude” (2011), “Bergson postcolonial. L’élan vital dans la pensée de Senghor et de Mohamed Iqbal” (2011), “The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa” (2016), and “Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with Western Tradition” (2018).

Petra Thombs is the executive director of the Ramapough Lenape Community Center in Mahwah, N.J., operated by the Ramapough Mountain Indians. She is in preliminary fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, and was ordained in 2021. A graduate from Union Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity and a major in church history, she focuses on the Doctrine of Discovery as it has fostered racism and extreme marginalization for Indigenous communities globally.

Interfaith Reflection Read at UN Food Systems Summit

Interfaith Reflection

United Nations Food Systems Summit
Thursday, September 23, 2021
New York

Our story of food is one of sacred joy. Values of interdependence, sharing, dignity and empathy are enshrined in all traditions’ understanding of food as a universal human right. 

Food serves as a sacred reminder of the holy and the righteous. It tells a story of fellowship and is an invitation into the presence of the Divine and the wider world.

Food should be a channel of peace, not a weapon of war used to cause hunger and poverty; We cannot sustain a global food system that exploits biodiversity and well-being in the name of short-term profit. 

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is a clarion call for the need to transform. 

We call upon Heads of States and Governments, civil society, faith communities, and businesses to:  

1. Invest in solutions informed by indigenous wisdom, smallholder farmers, women and youth, targeted at building food systems’ resilience including  agroecology without acquiescing to corporate capture of critical infrastructure.

2. Subsidize nutritious, diverse plant- centered growing practices and increase smallholder presence within global markets from farmers, pastoralists, and blue foods.

3. Guarantee food security through sustainability, nutrition, and equity — innovating with a moral compass 

4. Provide policy, innovation, educational, and business opportunities for the underrepresented food system actors and ensure their voices are involved at the highest levels of decision making.

5. Restore degraded lands and protect ecosystems.

6. Promote and support breastfeeding — the first food system

7. Regulate the marketing of food and beverages to children, preventing ultra-processed foods from being sold as healthy substitutes for real, nutritious food.

Ours is a challenge of ethical and spiritual conviction. The most recent IPCC report is alarmingly clear. If we do not reorient our worldviews, our future is bleak. 

As people of faith, we are committed to the equitable transformation of our food systems to prioritize people and planet over profit. Let us come together as a world community to face this challenge as one human family.

Thank you

– – – – – – – –

Editor’s Note: This statement was read during the “People’s Plenary” session of the United Nations Food Systems Summit on Thursday, September 23, 2021. Dr. Marium Husain and Steve Chiu, members of the Faith + Food Coalition Steering Committee, read the reflection, which was condensed from the Coalition’s Interfaith Statement, signed by 60 organizations and individuals at time of the Summit.

 

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.

_________________

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.