SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — In their contributions to the discussions at the COP27 climate summit, which has now come to an end, the delegates of the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) underlined a fundamental idea: if humanity is to face the a myriad of climate issues it is addressing, the nations of the world must reach a consensus on essential guiding principles that will reform the relationship between society and the natural world.
“The natural world offers a profound insight into the essence of coexistence and interdependence,” said Hatem El-Hady, a representative of the BIC’s Cairo office, at an event titled “Coexistence between peoples and the land.”
Mr. El-Hady explained that the nations of the world must develop their capacity to work together to protect the environment and that the driving force behind this progress must be the recognition of humanity’s inherent unity.
Saphira Rameshfar, representative of the New York Office of the BIC, elaborated on this idea, saying: “We cannot talk about coexistence and living in harmony with the planet if we are not able to consult together and understand each other deeply. We must learn to see reality from many different perspectives and be open to having our thinking enhanced by the perceptions and experiences of others.
SM. Rameshfar emphasized that consultation, when approached as a means of investigating the truth, can enable people from different backgrounds to avoid contradictory tendencies, transcend differences and harmonize perspectives.
“The ability to consult like this,” he said, “and truly understand where humanity currently stands, is essential to moving towards a mature society that is at peace with itself and with the environment.”
The two-week United Nations conference brought together more than 100 heads of state and government, as well as more than 35,000 other participants, including numerous civil society organizations, journalists, media outlets, businesses, climate activists and members of the public, to review global efforts to address climate change.
Mr El-Hady and Ms Rameshfar were joined in the BIC delegation to the conference by Bani Dugal and Daniel Perell from the BIC New York office, Peter Aburi and Laura Musonye from Kenya and Ian Hamilton from the United States.
A glimpse of BIC’s participation in COP27
Below are some highlights from the BIC delegation’s contributions to numerous discussions at COP27, where representatives explored themes essential to establishing new models of social organization that meet today’s needs, including: redefining notions of progress and development on basis for a more accurate understanding of human nature and the important role of government in building a more sustainable world.
In a press conference held by the BIC, two of its representatives, Bani Dugal and Daniel Perell, highlighted the gap between intention and action as one of the central challenges facing humanity in tackling climate change. “Humanity has enormous potential and ingenuity to solve the many problems it faces,” said Mr. Perell, “These must now be harnessed through a determined collective will, a resource that is based on faith in humanity’s abilities and hope for a better future.”
SM. Dugal, citing the BIC statement One planet, one habitat, he said: “The world that calls is one of integration and balance, of beauty and maturity. It is a world with a sense of progress redefined, full of communities and individuals working together with the support of institutions towards the realization of their highest aspirations. It is a world increasingly relieved of the destructive moral compromises – social, economic and environmental – which have so often been deemed necessary to progress.”
A recording of this event can be viewed here.
Mr. Perell moderated an event titled “Achieving Ambition Through Ethical, Intergenerational, Multi-Sectoral Responses to Climate Crises.” SM. Dugal spoke of the need for constructive relationships between the individual, the community and the institutions.
Other speakers included Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace; Bakoa Kaltongga, Member of Parliament for Vanuatu and Special Envoy on Climate Change; Maria Fernanda Espinosa, former President of the United Nations General Assembly; Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, High Representative of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Co-President of Religions for Peace, Egypt.
The BIC set up a stand which invited participants to describe the values necessary for environmental protection.
BIC delegates also participated in an event titled ‘Local Financing for Climate Change Adaptation: Reducing Cycles of Loss and Damage and Inequity’, moderated by Mr. Perell.
A recording of the event can be viewed here.
Mr. Perell at an event titled “Switching Youth Narratives from Risk to Resilience,” which reviewed experiences of youth efforts to increase climate resilience.
The BIC screened a short film entitled ‘Tanna: A study in leadership and action’, which explores how constructive relationships between individuals, communities and institutions have paved the way for a youth-led social action initiative to revitalize and protect an ecosystem of coral reef off the coast of Tanna, Vanuatu.
The film can be viewed here.
At an event titled “Expanding Coexistence Among Peoples and with the Earth System: Insights and Experiences of Egypt’s Bahá’í National Community,” Aya Mustafa, a member of the Bahá’í Community of Egypt, spoke about how moral education Bahá’í programs enable young people from diverse backgrounds to meet the needs of their communities together. “These young people learn to transcend their own striving to develop qualities and attributes such as trustworthiness, tolerance and patience, because they understand that these are building blocks of social progress and caring for the differences in our planet,” she said.
Mr. Aburi spoke at a press conference about the need to rethink economic agreements in the light of the principle of the unity of humanity.
“Our efforts will need an awakening of values, ethics and leadership that unite us in working together for the betterment of society,” he said, emphasizing that there is an inherent moral dimension to the generation, distribution and use of wealth and resources.
He added: “Economic decisions must, therefore, be made according to high ideals. The beginning of any deliberation can no longer be about the accumulation of wealth or power, but oriented towards the understanding that wealth must serve humanity.
Some members of the BIC delegation.
Additional members of the BIC delegation.
This BIC statement, entitled One planet, one habitatpresents a stimulating reading of the root causes of the escalation of environmental degradation and highlights principles and proposals for action that draw on the experiences of many decades “in which the international community has not only imagined a better world, but has attempted to act along paths not previously traveled”.
A microsite created by the BIC further explores the themes of the One Planet, One Home declaration by providing insights into Bahá’í efforts in different places around the world addressing local environmental issues.
Another statement issued by the BIC, entitled The heart of resilienceproposes that the principle of equality between women and men should be intentionally integrated into governance processes to promote resilience in the face of the climate crisis.