Category: Sustainability and Global Affairs

“Planting Seeds for Change”: Faith + Food Global Online Forum on July 27

What are the impacts of our global food systems on people and the planet? What can we learn from Indigenous communities and traditional food practices? How can a respect for faith and values make food systems more healthy, sustainable, and equitable?

To help answer these questions, the Faith + Food Coalition will host “Faith + Food: Planting Seeds for Change” on July 27, 2021 at 8 a.m. Central European Summer Time (2 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time in the US). This global online forum will present the Coalition’s findings and recommendations to improve food security and access in conjunction with the United Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit in Rome. The Pre-Summit—which will engage policymakers, advocates, NGOs, healthcare leaders, and others from around the world—is part of the lead up to the UN Food Systems Summit on September 24 in New York.

“Values and ethics must be included in the global policy-making conversation about food,” said Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics. “We are honored to convene this forum with people who bring real insight about this essential dimension of human life.”

From top left: Chris Elisara, Marium Husain, Lina Mahy, Gopal Patel, Andrew Schwartz

Speakers will be Dr. Chris Elisara, director of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Creation Care Task Force and a senior fellow at Duke Divinity School’s Ormond Center; Dr. Marium Husain, president of the Islamic Medical Association of North America and a hematology/oncology fellow at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center; Lina Mahy, technical officer in the World Health Organization’s Multisectoral Action in Food Systems Unit; and Gopal Patel, co-founder and director of Bhumi Global. Andrew Schwartz, the director of sustainability and global affairs at the Center for Earth Ethics, will moderate the discussion.

“Planting Seeds for Change” builds upon five interfaith dialogues that CEE convened in May and June as part of a formal UN process to engage diverse stakeholders in the Food Systems Summit. The Food + Faith 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. They engaged grassroots organizers, farmers, food advocates, and policymakers to gather insights and develop holistic, inclusive recommendations.

“Engaging faith-based groups and Indigenous communities is essential to shifting worldviews toward food and the natural world,” says Schwartz. “We’re delighted to have been invited to organize this forum alongside the Pre-Summit.”

“Planting Seeds for Change” will review key findings from the five Food + Faith Dialogues, identify crucial topics for the Summit to address, and issue calls to action.

The Food + Faith Coalition comprises seven groups—the Center for Earth Ethics, Bhumi Global, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, Interfaith Public Health Network, Islamic Medical Association of North America, Parliament of the World’s Religions, and the World Evangelical Alliance’s Creation Care Task Force –that came together to create a platform for faith groups and Indigenous communities around the world to contribute to the UN Food Systems Summit.

The forum is open to all without charge, but registration is required.

REGISTER

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

Ahead of the #G20: Interfaith Initiatives to Achieve the Agenda 2030 Goals

ICYMI: Read the summary from the July 14th “Ahead of the #G20” webinar on changing societal and values-based frameworks for #ClimateAction.
Panelists included Mr. Arthur Dahl, President of the International Environment Forum; Ms. Karenna Gore, Executive Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City; and Ms. Astrid Shomaker, Director for Global Sustainable Development and Directorate General for Environment at the European Commission. Dr. Pasquale Annicchino of the Bruno Kessler Foundation moderated the discussion.
Read the summary at the IF20 Interfaith Forum:

UN Environment Programme Grants Accreditation to CEE and Union

The United Nations Environment Programme has accredited Union Theological Seminary through the Center for Earth Ethics. Accreditation grants Union observer status and other privileges at the United Nations Environment Assembly and its subsidiaries. The Center for Earth Ethics initiated the accreditation process and is Union’s official connection with this UN body.

The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, Union’s president, was informed of the accreditation in a letter from Jorge Laguna-Celis, UNEP’s secretary of governing bodies, on July 7. The announcement, Jones said, is “a testament to the CEE’s unique ability to engage religious and spiritual communities in ecological discussions at all levels and to establish unprecedented connections between faith-based and secular concerns in order to advance the great work of protecting life on Earth.”

“We are grateful for this honor and opportunity,” said Karenna Gore, CEE’s executive director. “The Center for Earth Ethics at Union is energized and ready to join the great efforts underway at UNEP to correct course so that people can live in balance and harmony with Earth and each other.”

Accreditation is the main entry point for groups and stakeholders into the UN’s environmental policy dialogue. Schools and other non-governmental organizations must successfully meet the requirements of UNEP’s accreditation process before being granted observer status to the UN Environment Assembly, which governs UNEP, and the Committee of Permanent Representatives, composed of all accredited permanent representatives to UNEP.

The Assembly, which will meet next in February 2022, is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, with representatives from all 193 UN member states. It sets priorities for global environmental policies and develops international environmental law. In the months leading up to Assembly sessions, accredited organizations participate in Regional Consultation Meetings, contribute to Regional Civil Society Statements, comment on working documents, and participate in public meetings. During the Assembly itself, accredited organizations attend plenary sessions, where they interact with governments, circulate written statements, and make oral presentations.

CEE’s Director of Sustainability and Global Affairs Andrew Schwartz shepherded Union and CEE through the accreditation process; he will serve as Union’s point of contact with UNEP. 

“Observer status helps us advance faith-based and other underrepresented groups as full participants in the UN’s ongoing dialogues on the environment, climate, and other defining issues,” Schwartz said. “We’re looking forward to amplifying these voices at the next meeting of the Assembly.”

Faith + Food Coalition: Reflections for WHO Health Week – June 10th

The Faith + Food Coalition:
‘Faith and Food: Reflections for WHO Health Week’
Thursday, June 10th, 11 am ET
To contribute to the UN Food Systems Summit, the Faith + Food Coalition hosted five separate interfaith, multi-stakeholder dialogues corresponding to each of the five Action Tracks. The objective of the dialogues was to explore how faith communities – including Indigenous communities – can support the transformation of global food systems to being sustainable, accessible, equitable, and regenerative. This panel will reflect on the dialogues and offer insights into increased faith engagement leading up to the Food Systems Summit and beyond.
We need everyone engaged to find local and global food systems solutions for healthy people and a healthy planet. 🌍  Join us! www.faithandfood.earth

 

Andrew Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience working with community leaders and elected officials around the world to build movements, craft communications and affect change on climate and environmental issues. He is the Director of Sustainability and Global Affairs at the Center for Earth Ethics where he works to change both policies and culture to advance the sustained well-being of the people of the world. A graduate of the Union Theological Seminary, Andrew began his career as a youth representative to the United Nations Rio+20 Conference in Brazil in 2012. A native of Oregon, Andrew and his wife and daughter live in Portland.

 

Kelly Moltzen is a tireless advocate of making connections between food, faith, and social justice. In addition to being a co-convener of the Interfaith Public Health Network, Kelly is a program manager at the Institute for Family Health with the Bronx Health REACH initiative. She is a 2015 Re:Generate Fellow with the Food, Health and Ecological Well-Being Program of Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Professional Development Co-Chair with the Religion Member Interest Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and a member of the Ecumenical/Interfaith Committee of the USA Secular Franciscan Order. She has an MPH from NYU, completed her dietetic internship with the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and has a BS in Nutritional Sciences & Dietetics from the University of Delaware. Kelly was recognized as part of Hunter College’s NYC Food Policy Center 40 Under 40 Class of 2020. 

 

Dr. Marium Husain is an oncology hospitalist at the Ohio State University James Comprehensive Care Center. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed a residency in Internal Medicine. She will be pursuing a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology. Marium has been working on community service projects in the Columbus area and abroad for the past 10 years. As a board member of the national non-profit, IMANA (Islamic Medical Association of North America), she has been working on public health education and creating domestic campaigns for food insecurity, reproductive health, mental health and climate change.

 

Joshua Basofin is a lawyer, conservationist, sustainability advisor, and climate change organizer. After a stint as a researcher and teaching assistant at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Joshua worked as a sustainability advisor, first in Tel Aviv and then in New York with UK based nonprofit Forum for the Future. He now serves as the  Director of Climate Action for Parliament of the World’s Religions.

 

 

 

Bibi la Luz Gonzales is an international political economist merging food security. Climate, sustainability and human rights. She is the founder of Come Mejor Wa’ik//Eat Better Wa’ik. Bibi is a positive and enthusiastic multilingual Global Shaper, One Young World Ambassador, World Merit Guatemala Office Representative, and Merit360 SDG2 Executor.

 

 

 

Steve Chiu is Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation’s Representative at the United Nations. In alignment with Tzu Chi’s work in disaster relief, climate action, education for global citizenship, sustainable development and gender equality, Steve works to build relationships, share best practices and develop programs with other organizations to make tangible impacts on the ground, with the mission of alleviating the suffering of those in need. With over 19 years of experience in community based development and local interfaith partnership, Steve seeks to connect the importance of grassroots action to policies that are being developed on the international level.

 

Almamy Chouaibou Diagan

Co-Founder, Smart System Services + Rim Robotique designing technological solutions adapted to our cities to reduce the impact of man on the phenomenon of global warming. Co-Founder of the ‘’Union des Jeunes entrepreneurs Mauritanien’’ and member of the Network of young Mauritanian scientists.

 

 

 

Stineke Oenema is the Global Coordinator of the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSN)

 

 

 

Dr. Maria P. Neira has been directing the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland since September 2005. Throughout her tenure and up until now she has led and advised on policy and management in key areas of environmental health.  Prior to that she served as Under-Secretary of Health and President of the Spanish Food Safety Agency. From 1993-1998 she was Coordinator of the Global Task Force on Cholera Control.

Dr Neira began her career as a medical coordinator working with refugees in El Salvador and Honduras for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). She then spent several years working in different African countries during armed conflicts. In early 2019, she was nominated among the top 100 policy influencers in health and climate change.  

 

Dr. Martin Frick is the Deputy of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit 2021. Previously, he served as the senior director of UN Climate Change where he oversaw the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and the secretariat’s climate action work.

The Faith + Food Coalition is convened by the Center for Earth Ethics in response to the call for contributions to the UN Food Systems Summit 2021.

Join us! www.faithandfood.earth

Faith + Food Dialogues Series Registration is Open!

Faith + Food Dialogues ~ May 6th – June 3rd

A series of independent dialogues hosted by the Faith and Food Coalition to contribute to the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

Food sits at the center of our lives. From a meal on the go to a holiday spent around the table with family and friends, food not only sustains us but helps define who we are. It informs aspects of our religious identities and marks how we choose to interact with the world.

Globally our relationship with food and the systems we utilize to produce it are having alarming effects on the earth and its people. Nearly 2 billion people are food insecure while billions more are ailing from diet related health issues. Human and planetary health are suffering as a result of how food is grown and what kinds of food are being encouraged.

This Fall, the Secretary-General of the United Nations will be convening a Food Systems Summit which will bring together farmers, politicians, business leaders, youth groups and other civil society members to examine how our global food systems can be reformed to equitably and sustainably feed the world.

To contribute, the Faith and Food Coalition is hosting five independent virtual dialogues to critically examine the role faith based organizations can bring to conversations about our food systems. These dialogues will take place as part of the broader Food Systems Summit Dialogues.

These dialogues are being organized by the following coalition of leading faith-based organizations: Bhumi Global, Interfaith Public Health Network, Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA), Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Tzu Chi Foundation, World Evangelical Alliance, and the Center for Earth Ethics.

 

 

Check out our livestream preview from March 26th –

Join CEE Executive Director Karenna Gore, Sustainability and Global Affairs Program Director Andrew Schwartz, Original Caretakers Program Senior Fellow Mona Polacca and Director of Bhumi Global Gopal Patel on our YouTube Channel.

 

Join the Faith + Food Coalition Community! www.FaithandFood.Earth

Seven Weeks for Water 2021, Holy Week: “Healing the water heals the wounds of the earth and its people”

Text: Isaiah 42:1-9

Refection:

There’s a town in the Central Valley of California named Allensworth. It’s a few hours from most anywhere and is easily missed in the web of state highways and wandering local roads that are bent this way and that by plots of almond groves.

The land is hard. Harder than it should be. Harder than it’s ever been. Decades of water-intensive farming by hedge fund managers and farmers who don’t have the moral imagination to look past tomorrow’s dollar have drained the land. So has climate change.  When Col. Allensworth founded the town in 1908 as a place for Black Americans looking for a chance to be free and live well, it was on the banks of Lake Tulare. The black farmers are echoes in history now because of racist policies that drove them off the land. Lake Tulare, once the largest lake west of the Rockies, is barely a shadow of itself. The waters that used to reliably come down from the distant Sierras in the spring melt have slackened and the seasonal rains are barely a spit.

Unsustainable farming and climate change have caused the water tables to drop in the Central Valley which has caused the arsenic concentration in the soil to rise. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, traces of which have little effect on our health. However, the levels in the soil in Allensworth have reached the point of poison which not only makes the water undrinkable but unsafe for cooking or bathing.  In this pathetic water situation, the poor community residents must buy water for all needs. Most of the residents of Allensworth are Brown and Black. Most all of them are poor. That’s not an accident, of course. It never is. When land and the fruit it produces become commodities, the people who work it do too.

The last week of Lent is a paradox. It’s standing at the precipice knowing that death waits just a little bit further down the road. Even worse, knowing that the encounter with death is inevitable and irreversible, at least until it isn’t. 2020 was a year of death. The COVID-19 pandemic brought millions around the world to early deaths. But it also brought death to countless rituals and moments of community, and to dreams so hard-worked for that must be said goodbye to. It brought the death of reason for all too many, the death of security and even hope.

Hope is hard to find when death might be behind every breath, every hello, every I love you. But if Holy Week teaches us anything, it’s that death is not final. Death is the sister to dreams and dreams give birth to hope. We must not forget to dream. We must not forget that within God exist the seeds and waters of life that we cannot comprehend, and that the goodness will not be exhausted until justice is established in the Earth (Is. 42:4).

I’m reminded of the God who consistently makes a way out of no way. For whom death has no purchase. Who restores that which is broken and breathes life into a valley of bones? To me, it’s a mandate to dream of beauty. To dream of the act of creation and hope and healing and then to start working to make those dreams manifest.

In Allensworth, a collection of residents, scientists, environmentalists and people of goodwill have come together to heal. Amidst the rows of corporatized groves of almonds, this group is planting flowers and vegetables that heal and rehabilitate the land by drawing the arsenic into their roots and fibers. With each passing season of growth, harvest, decomposition, and growth again the soil becomes more healthy, more alive. As the soil is healed, the water heals too. Their effort is small but so is everything when it first begins. It will grow and, as it grows, the people and the land, and the water will find new life together.

Questions for discussion

  1. Baptism is used to symbolize rebirth and new beginnings. What would it mean for us to baptize the land and the waters that sustain us and the ecosystems we live in?
  2. Where do you see connections between pain in the natural world and pain in our society? How can healing one area help heal another?
  3. Climate change disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Who in your community is the most at risk from pollution or toxic sites and why are they in more danger than others?

Actions

  1. Take time to learn about water usage in your area and how it affects the local ecosystem. Who is it managed by and how?
  2. What can you plant in your yard or church yard that can help rejuvenate the soil and bring health to the land?
  3. Learn who in your community or surrounding area is water insecure and dependent on bottled water for their daily needs. You can help them financially and by spreading awareness.
  4. Have your water and soil tested to learn what is in it.

Resources: 

  1. https://watersheddiscipleship.org
  2. https://centerforearthethics.org/resources-legacy/water-liturgies/
  3. https://blackchurchfoodsecurity.net
  4. http://interfaithfood.org/resources/congregational-toolkit/
  5. https://centerforearthethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/LOVE-THE-WATER-Steps-to-build-Community-and-Congregation-around-Water-2-1.pdf

* Andrew Schwartz lives in beautiful Portland, OR with his amazing wife and daughter. He’s the director of Sustainability and Global Affairs at the Center for Earth Ethics.

Watch: Faith + Food Coalition opens dialogues with livestream

The Center for Earth Ethics is so excited about the Faith + Food Coalition Dialogue Series – we hosted a livestream conversation Friday, March 26th!

Check out our conversation with CEE Executive Director Karenna Gore, Sustainability and Global Affairs Program Director Andrew Schwartz, Original Caretakers Program Senior Fellow Mona Polacca and Director of Bhumi Global Gopal Patel on why we are convening faith groups to talk about food systems and the contributions of indigenous wisdom to solving these complex challenges.

Bring a snack to eat! Make a cuppa.

Join the Faith + Food Coalition Community at faithandfood.earth!

A World Water Day Message from Mona Polacca

 

 

 

 

 

Taking time out today to acknowledge this divine creation. Water.

Where is your water?

What is happening to your water?

Who is making decisions about your water?

Where is the water that you come from?

What is your identity in relationship with your water?

 

The Center for Earth Ethics welcomes Mona Polacca as Senior Fellow, Original Caretakers Program. Mona is an elder of the Hopi, Tewa, and Havasupai lineages from the Blue-Green Waters of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.

Learn more…

The UN Secretary-General —  Remarks for the ONE PLANET SUMMIT 

THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL 
 
REMARKS FOR THE ONE PLANET SUMMIT 
 
11 January 2021 
 
[All English version] 
 
Dear friends, 
 
2021 must be the year to reconcile humanity with nature. 
 
Until now, we have been destroying our planet.  
 
We have been abusing it as if we had a spare one.  
 
Our current resource use requires almost two planets but we only have one.   
 
If we compare Earth’s history to a calendar year, we have used one third of its natural resources in the last 0.2 seconds. 
 
We have been poisoning air, land and water – and filling oceans with plastics.  
 
Now, nature is striking back. 
 
Temperatures are reaching record highs. 
 
Biodiversity is collapsing. 
 
Deserts are spreading.  
 
Fires, floods and hurricanes are more frequent and extreme. 
 
And we are extremely fragile. 
 
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has taken more than 1.8 million lives and devastated economies. 
 
For the first time in this century, poverty is increasing.  
 
Inequalities are deepening. 
 
As we rebuild, we cannot revert to the old normal.  
 
Pandemic recovery is our chance to change course. 
 
With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies and builds resilience and rescues biodiversity. 
 
Innovations in energy and transport can steer a sustainable recovery and an economic and social transformation.  
 
Nature-based solutions – such as Africa’s Great Green Wall – are especially promising. 
 
Preserving the world’s biodiversity also yields jobs: according to the World Economic Forum, emerging business opportunities across nature could create 191 million jobs by 2030. 
 
But the world has not met any of the global biodiversity targets set for 2020, and biodiversity is facing a financing gap of $711 billion per year until 2030.  
 
Sustainable financing is essential if we are to transition away from polluting sectors. 
 
Our meeting in Kunming, the COP in China, this year is a vital step in establishing a post-2020 global framework for biodiversity and stopping the extinction crisis. 
 
Dear friends, 
 
A new momentum is emerging. 
 
Many large emitters have committed to achieving zero net emissions by 2050. 
 
The main goal of the United Nations in 2021 is to build a truly global coalition for carbon neutrality. 
 
Every country, city and business must adopt an ambitious roadmap to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. 
 
The time has come to: 
 
Put a price on carbon. 
Stop building new coal plants. 
 
End fossil fuel subsidies. 
 
Shift the fiscal burden from taxpayers to polluters. 
 
Align public and private financial flows with the Paris Agreement commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals. 
 
And integrate the goal of carbon neutrality into all economic and fiscal decisions. 
 
We must also help the most vulnerable, who are already suffering from the effects of climate change. 
 
Today, adaptation efforts account for only 20 per cent of climate finance. 
 
Only 14 per cent of climate finance is dedicated to the least developed countries. 
 
This is far from enough, especially to protect small island States, which face an existential threat. 
 
Everyone must do much more. 
 
COP26 cannot be another missed opportunity. 
 
For three years, the One Planet Summit has been bringing together private, public and civil society actors around concrete initiatives at the country level. 
 
The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which will be formally launched today, is a perfect example. 
 
Dear friends, 
 
We begin a new year under the sign of hope. 
 
Together, let us seize the opportunity to build a safer, fairer and more sustainable world. 
 
Thank you.