In the last 60 years, more than 40% of the world’s civil wars have been linked to control over natural resources such as land, oil, and water. Climate change is on track to make this situation worse, with unprecedented new impacts on the functioning ecosystems we depend upon for survival, as well as on where people can live and grow food, build cities, practice their faith, and raise their children in peace and health. The security implications of climate change are being recognized at the highest levels, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres has put it at the heart of our conflict prevention agenda. The Secretary-General announced in April 2020 that “the global crisis we are facing today due to COVID19 pandemic is the gravest challenge since the establishment of the UN 75 years ago,” but it also remains an irrefutable fact that climate change continues to be one of the most systemic environmental threats that humankind has ever faced.
We are in a race against time that will require political will, innovation, inclusion, tolerance, values and ethics, financing and partnerships. We are calling on everyone—countries, cities, the private sector, individuals, and faith-based organizations—to strengthen their actions to mitigate climate change, restore ecosystems, and protect the health of the planet without delay. The world has the scientific understanding, the technological capacity, and the financial means to do this. We need to trust our abilities and act accordingly.
Our challenge is not that we do not know what to do—it is how quickly we can do it. The problem is massive, and such large and complex challenges will require transformational thinking, integration, and big movements. But it will also require progress on myriad smaller and manageable scales. We need faith-based organizations to be part of the global accountability and monitoring system to achieve the sustainable development goals, and we need a common ethical system of values no matter what religion we believe.
As we begin this century’s third decade, the new edition — produced through a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and the Parliament of the World’s Religions Climate Action Program — offers an introduction to the magnitude of the task we now face and to the faith communities that are becoming a force for the global environmental future. It is time, as never before, to call on our faith, our values, our religious teachings and traditions – on Faith for Earth. And it is time for action.
This book was first published at the beginning of the twenty-first century. A joint project of the United Nations Environment Programme and the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment, it was titled Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action.