Interfaith Statement presented to UN - Philippa's story

In New York on 18 April, Ambassador Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly took delivery of the Interfaith Climate Change Statement to World Leaders signed by 270 high-level religious leaders, 4970 individuals and 176 religious groups from around the world (www.interfaithstatement2016.org). 

This milestone document calls on governments around the world to take decisive action on climate change. ARRCC member, Philippa Rowland of the Multi-Faith Association of SA was present and gave a brief address to the meeting.


Twenty senior Australian religious leaders, including Presidents of the Australian Hindu and Imams councils, the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, and the National Council of Churches, joined the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and 170 faith leaders in signing this global Interfaith Climate Change Statement.

In New York, Philippa Rowland from Australia, gave this address:

"I pay my respects to Elders past and present and distinguished faith leaders and government representatives.

“Australia is an ancient land, blessed with abundant renewable energy in sun, wind and sea. Yet we remain stuck on the horns of dilemma - deeply vulnerable to the impacts of climate change but addicted to fossil fuels.

"It’s deeply encouraging to see all faiths calling for urgent action on climate change, given clear signs from science & the environment itself.”

“The current global coral bleaching event affecting our Great Barrier Reef is just one example of Australia’s vulnerability to global warming and the impacts are far worse for our Pacific neighbours."

It is already over a decade since Australian Catholic Bishops released formal Pastoral Letters expressing concern about the need for action on the Great Barrier Reef and on Climate Change.

I quote: “Not only is the Reef a precious ecosystem in itself, but also an integral part of the one web of planetary life that connects us all – the human species and all species of the land and sea, rainforest and reef, mountains, plains and inland desert.”[1]

All forms of life have a meaningful role and place in the world. Pope Francis calls humanity to an Integral Ecology[2] in caring for our common home, like Theravadan Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn’s concept of “Interbeing”[3], understanding deeply the interconnectedness and sacredness of all beings.

“May the combined wisdom and moral authority of our spiritual elders give us all the courage to transition to an equitable and sustainable low carbon economy".


“In reality, a safe climate is a common good that belongs to all generations and it is our generation that has the responsibility to act - for we are the last to have the ability to respond. The time to act is now.”

More on the story

The Interfaith Climate Change Statement urges countries to ratify the Paris Climate Change Agreement and reduce emissions to combat rising temperatures.

The document also calls for a phasing-out of fossil fuel subsidies and an increase in renewable energy investment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above industrial levels.

President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Thea Ormerod, said that the world needed Australia to do its part in shifting to low-carbon technologies and helping vulnerable countries to build resilience. “In many places across this fragile planet of ours, global warming is no longer just a theory. It is destroying lives and livelihoods. The first step would be to ratify the Paris Agreement.”

Well done to all - especially Ciara Shannon, OurVoicesGreenfaith and all who helped spread the word and send out a ripple out hope across the world.


Media links

These are a small sample only! Over 120 stories were generated worldwide.

Voice of America attended & made a 2:20 min clip  http://www.voanews.com/content/faith-community-urges-world-leaders-climate-pact/3292815.html 

Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu sign interfaith climate statement http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/04/18/dalai-lama-archbishop-tutu-sign-interfaith-climate-statement/

Archbishop Ribat, Port Moresby, President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania interviewed by ABC Pacific Beat  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-20/religious-leaders-call-on-governments-to-take/7340860

Experts hail Paris Agreement ahead of signing Apr 21 NYSE


Probono Australia  http://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2016/04/aus-religious-leaders-global-call-climate-change/


by Philippa Rowland

Interfaith Dialogue and Regional Leader SA/NT - Catholic Earthcare Australia 

39 Wakefield St, Adelaide SA 5000

E: [email protected]  M: 0417 799360  W: www.neen.org.au


[1] Catholic Bishops of Queensland (2004) “Let the Many Coastlines Be Glad - A Pastoral Letter on the Great Barrier Reef” released on World Oceans Day 8 June 2004 – see http://catholicearthcare.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Let-The-Many-Coastlines-Be-Glad-A-Pastoral-Letter-on-the-Great-Barrior-Reef.pdf

[2] Pope Francis (2015) Laudato Si’ - On Care for Our Common Home. Chapter 4 Integral Ecology 137-245 http://catholicearthcare.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Laudato-Si-EN-2.pdf

[3] Venerable Thich Nhat Hahn on Interbeing from the Heart of the Prajnaparamita Sutra https://bodhileaf.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/understanding-interbeing/ and http://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/