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Carlos Vincente Addresses the IRI Dialogue with Indigenous Leaders

Carlos Vincente addressed “An Urgent Call to Protect the Amazon: An Interfaith Rainforest Initiative Dialogue with Indigenous Leaders” at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

Good evening. First of all, we wanted to congratulate all Indigenous and religious leaders present here, and also express our joy in being able to participate in this important meeting, where so many wonderful people are gathered to seek to advance in building a civilization based on love, peace, and the right to live in the well for all human beings and all others species who share with us the privilege to live in this amazing planet.

The Interface Rainforest Initiative was created as an international multi-faith alliance to bring moral urgency and faith-based leadership to global efforts to halt and reverse tropical deforestation.

In IRI operating in Brazil, Colombia, the Republic of Democratic of Congo, Indonesia, and Peru, five countries that contain more than 70% of the world’s remaining rainforests. The initiative focuses on three axes of changes– education, awareness, and communication with religious leaders, mobilized faith-based and spirituality-based actions, and advocates for governments to adopt, fulfill, and expand their commitment to protect tropical forests and the rights of Indigenous people.

At the global level, IRI has mobilized a declaration and agenda for actions that has been endorsed by more than 1,000 of the world’s most important religious leaders from 125 countries. Brazil has around 60% of the Amazon biome and a mostly religious population. In a recent study of 26 countries around the world, Brazil and South Africa stood out as the nations with the highest percentage of people who believe in God or in a higher power. 89% of the population’s faith in a higher being influences every aspect of people’s lives in Brazil. From individual choices to politics, education, and the economy. Around 50% are Catholic and 30% are Evangelical. Evangelicalism is growing very quickly and it is estimated that they will be the majority of the Brazilian population by 2030. A large portion of religious people supported the previous president who greatly encouraged the devastation of the Amazon rainforest and the violation of the rights of the Indigenous peoples

IRI Brazil has developed a methodology to dialogue between scientists and religious leaders, not just to Christian but for all traditions and spiritualties with very promising results. We have created a loving and welcoming environment so that leaders can understand the climate emergency, the urgency of stopping the destruction of Amazon rainforest, and understand the importance of defending the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

We have worked with all ideological and all political diversity. And even among the climate deniers, we have gotten good responses. More than 90% of them have engaged in environmental actions. We have also used Metaverse technology to raise awareness among religious people, public authorities, politicians, young people, and entrepreneurs. We created the film “Amazonia Viva” to take people on an immersive experience inside the Amazon rainforest. Our aim is to help people develop an emotional contact with the forest and its inhabitants, even in a virtual way. We would like to invite all of you to visit us in the booth on the climate sector to have this experience.

Around 80% of the Brazilian population lives in the cities. And most people have no contact with the forest and are privy to developing a strong feeling of love and care for it and its people. We have also created communication strategies based on the religions, precepts of the different religions, mixing scientific information with guidelines for engagement. We work in a strong partnership with most of the interfaith initiatives operating in Brazil and have created a very effective learning and cooperation environment.

Last week we held a joint event between Brazil, Colombia, and Peru to influence the outcome of the Amazon Summit. We were honored to have the broad participation of religious communities of the Amazon, as well as the Minister of the Environment of Brazil and Peru and the Minister of Indigenous of Brazil, HE Sonia Guajajara.

We’ve produced a strong document, we proposed to solve the structural problems that are causing deforestation and exasperating the climate crisis but our challenges are huge. We have little limited time to save the Amazon and we can no longer continue to live with the violence to which Indigenous people are subjected. We need more support to expand the impact of our work reaching as many leaders as possible over the next three years. We would like to thank all the religious leaders in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru and the other countries that are helping us to make this important effort to create a future for everybody. thank you so much.

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