Bahai News - Faith groups, including Bahá'ís of Germany, meet on environment and climate concerns
Faith groups, including Bahá'ís of Germany, meet on environment and climate concerns
GÖTTINGEN, Germany, 4 June 2002 (BWNS) -- At an interfaith meeting in May, representatives of the main religions in Germany,
including the Bahá'í Faith, drafted and accepted a joint memorandum stressing the common ground among the religions on the issue of
climate change and the environment.
Chaired by Gottfried Orth, director of the Ernst Lange-Institute for Ecumenical Studies, and held under the auspices of the German
Federal Environment Ministry, the meeting took place 6-7 May 2002 and was titled "Orientation dialogue of religions represented in
Germany on environmental politics with reference to the climate issue."
The main goal of the meeting was to widen the dialogue between the government and various religions in Germany on environmental
issues as part of a process to enhance the receptivity and responsibility of important pillars of society.
Participants included three representatives of the Catholic and Protestant churches; the general secretary of the Central Muslim
Council and a scientific advisor; a member of the council of the Buddhist Union and two other Buddhists; and three representatives of
the Bahá'í Community of Germany. Also present were observers from the World Conference on Religion and Peace and a group representing
the Earth Charter.
The final memorandum issued by the religious representatives stated that, regardless of the differences between the holy writings and
traditions of the various religions, there is much common ground between them on the issues of nature and the environment, which
gives rise to a common responsibility for action.
"The central cause for the destruction of nature and the basis for life on earth is the waste of goods and resources," said the
memorandum. "We in the industrialized countries need to recognize our primary responsibility for global threat to life. We cannot
insist on a lifestyle with high energy consumption and emission of greenhouse gases that cannot be generalized worldwide."
The memorandum said love, justice and ethics can be the foundation for sustainable development, a point that must be considered at
the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, scheduled to be held in August in Johannesburg, South Africa. The memorandum
also emphasized that water -- an expression of spiritual life in all religions -- needs equal attention in its use.
"Approximately two-thirds of the time of the meeting was dedicated to presentations on the position of the various religions
concerning creation, nature, man, ethical approaches, attitudes towards scientific predictions on climate effects as well as aspects
of political actions," said Ingo Hofmann, who, along with Ulrich Gollmer and Friedo Zölzer, represented the Bahá'í Community of
Germany at the meeting.
"But these presentations were followed by equally long sessions of questions and answers," said Dr. Hofmann, who is a professor of
physics at Frankfurt University. "And there was consensus, at the end, that the whole meeting was held in a remarkable spirit of
dialogue and openness, giving a good example of religious dialogue applied to a burning problem of society."
In the memorandum, each religion also cited a main concern with respect to the environment. The Bahá'í contribution was to say that
"for the Bahá'ís, nature and humankind are an organic entity, from which we derive the principles for proper action in compliance
with the needs of environment and social justice," said Dr. Hofmann. German Federal Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin attended
the second day of the meeting, when the memorandum was presented to him. At a well attended press conference he stressed the
importance of religions in the process of making society more receptive to environmental issues.
The dialogue was designed as a follow-up to a meeting of G-8 environment ministers and religious leaders in Trieste in March 2001, at
which religious leaders appealed for governments to give environmental concerns a higher priority.
In terms of follow-up, the religious communities will continue the process of discussing environmental issues both inside and outside
their own communities. A book containing the statements of the various religious communities is also being prepared, with a fall 2002
publication schedule. The memorandum expresses the commitment to continue the dialogue locally, regionally and on the European level.
©Copyright 2002, Baha'i World News Service
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