Faith and science are two of the most influential forces in global society. The United Planet Faith & Science Initiative unites prominent religious figures and leading scientists to speak out together and mobilize action for ecological sustainability.
The UPFSI is a project that holds low-impact, web-based meetings of eminent scientists and faith leaders from across the globe. These meetings are edited into short, powerful videos and disseminated through social media and news outlets to promote public awareness, political will, policy, and action. The UPFSI also holds public events featuring presentations by these leaders. Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and prominent climatologist Dr. James Hansen are among the founding members of this Initiative. (Click here for a full list of founding members.)
The UPFSI also reaches out to the world’s youth as they are at greatest risk from the ecological crisis. The Initiative uses social media to help replace the unsustainable paradigm that has created many of our environmental problems with new inspiration, intention, and action.
UPFSI aims to shift the consciousness of humanity and the momentum of global society in a more sustainable direction in such critical areas as climate change, environmental protection, and biodiversity. The Initiative is an outgrowth of the Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change (IDCC), which was seminal in coalescing the interfaith ‘constituency’ within the UN FCCC process in 2009.
To see a diagram explaining the Initiative’s “Theory of Change,” click here.
Actions in 2014
The United Planet Faith and Science Initiative has made significant progress in 2014. A live Google Hangout conference call was held on July 17th with Dr. Mark Axelrod, a Professor in the field of International Environmental Policy, Law, and Governance, and Nick Breeze from the UPFSI team. The interview was recorded on YouTube and viewed by a live audience. These live conference calls will continue to increase in frequency as our outreach expands to prominent faith and science leaders throughout the world.
UPFSI held three live events with faith leaders and scientists in the autumn of 2014. Our inaugural meeting took place at Columbia University in late September. The meeting included ten UPFSI members from around the world – all in New York City as part of ‘Climate Week’ with Union Theological Seminary’s Religions for the Earth Conference, the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change, the People’s Climate March, and the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit.
On October 22nd, The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation co-sponsored an interfaith environmental conference with over 100 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish clergy and seminary students.
From December 2-6, 2014 in Lima, Peru at the UN Conference of the Parties for the Framework Convention on Climate Change we hosted a series of press conferences. The first brought together representatives of several religions and distinguished scientists to give voice to our common call for protection of the peoples and all of life on Earth. Subsequent press conferences illuminated the ongoing Arctic methane emergency. A theme was highlighted concerning the adverse impact of our present economic ‘meta-program’ upon the ecology of Earth in general, and its climate system in particular.
Actions in 2015
With UN climate negotiations as backdrop in Bonn, Germany and Paris, France the UPFSI sponsored two additional series of press conferences on a variety of climate change related issues and impacts. The format of the press conferences changed, however, into something akin to a TV talk show hosted by Stuart Scott, founder of the UPFSI. This became known as the Climate Matters Show. All shows, and particular edited segments, are available for viewing at the FacingFuture.TV website.
We encourage you to keep up with UPFSI as we continue to grow in our journey towards connecting faith and science leaders to promote a more sustainable future.
According to the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, “Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history.” Depletion of biodiversity and our limited stocks of energy and natural resources; air and water pollution; desertification and rising, warming oceans all illuminate the significant impact we are making on our shared planet.
Our collective lifestyle neither recognizes limits to the Earth’s resources nor the capacity of land, oceans, and atmosphere to absorb our wastes. Many scientists warn that we are approaching tipping points beyond which the life support systems on Earth will be irreversibly damaged or destroyed.
Our governments are failing to address this ecological crisis with the intensity the problem demands. Political leaders continue talking about sustainability while the scope and magnitude of the crisis rises. For example, governments have negotiated each year for the past nineteen years in the UN Conferences of the Parties on climate change, but have failed to reach an agreement. This shows the importance of promoting change within other sectors of society, which will then apply pressure on the political leaders to act.