Environmental Policy
Fifty years ago, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm. On that occasion, for the first time, it was stated that, in order to sustain and improve living conditions for the benefit of all, natural resources had to be protected and international cooperation was required to achieve this goal. Emphasis was placed on solving environmental problems but without forgetting social, economic and development needs. Soon afterwards, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) began. It was based in Nairobi, Kenya.
For 50 years, UNEP has coordinated a worldwide effort to address the planet’s greatest environmental challenges. Its convening power and rigorous scientific research have provided a platform for countries to engage, act boldly and advance the global environmental agenda.
“We ask too much of our planet to maintain unsustainable ways of life,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “History has shown what can be achieved when we work together and put the planet first.”
In early June 2022, the Stockholm+50 Conference was held. It was a time of reflection and relaunching for ecology and care for the planet. In this context, the world’s great religions wished to express their commitment to the planet with an interfaith declaration addressed to the Stockholm+50 UN international gathering. More than 200 religious leaders and representatives of the world’s religions – including New Humanity, representing the Focolare Movement – called upon the UNEP meeting to ensure that ecocide or destruction of the environment be considered an international crime since it attacks human life. They asked that there should be criminal consequences for those responsible: therefore, such a move would be a deterrent and have a preventive effect.
“A point has been reached in history when we must shape our actions throughout the world with a more prudent care for their environmental consequences. Through ignorance or indifference, we can do massive and irreversible harm to the earthly environment on which our life and well-being depend. Conversely, through fuller knowledge and wiser action, we can achieve for ourselves and our posterity a better life in an environment more in keeping with human needs and hopes.”

(Excerpt from Preambular Paragraph 6 of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration)

The Focolare Movement was able to present its own document – Focolare EcoPlan – which demonstrates its commitment to the environment. The presentation of EcoPlan was motivated by the spirituality that has given life to the Movement. It was officially handed over to Iyad Abu Moghli from Jordan, UNEP Senior Principal Advisor and director of the Faith for Earth Initiative, who said that the EcoPlan is “an ambitious and comprehensive ecological approach. ”Through EcoPlan, the Focolare wishes to extend, connect together and expand the environmental work that already exists within the Movement. Referring to the various aspects of the spirituality of unity, EcoPlan, which has been produced in partnership with FaithInvest and EcoOne, aims to inspire Focolare members and communities to re-examine their lifestyles in relation to the protection of people and the planet. It also represents a public declaration of ecological commitment, now and in the years to come, as a response to the objectives.

Stockholm+50 Interfaith Statement
“Faith Values and Reach – Contribution to Environmental Policy”

We, the representatives of various faith-based organizations, Indigenous cultures and wisdoms from around the world participating in the Stockholm+50, committed to caring for ecological justice and for protecting our one Earth, hereby make the following statement to the governments, UN entities, civil society, and all stakeholders of the “Stockholm+50” processes.

The world is facing a triple ‘pandemic’ of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Those hardest hit are those who have caused the least damage. We have less than three years for our carbon emissions to start dropping from the peak, and yet emissions continue to rise. We have already exceeded several thresholds critical to a stable and functioning planetary system, and we are currently on a pathway to overshooting dangerous tipping points, with irreversible consequences for all life. Rainforests – the ‘lungs of earth’ – are ironically becoming a carbon emitter. Melting permafrost is already releasing enormous quantities of methane. Devastating heat waves, floods, and droughts impact many parts of the world. Climate-related disease outbreak and pest infestations are decimating communities’ resilience. Across the globe, conflict and war are fueling increased competition for fossil fuel extraction and exploration. The root causes of the triple planetary crises are deeply fueled by structural greed and apathy that underpin our current economic systems. Amassing of obscene wealth by corporations and select individuals is directly related to global environmental problems and solutions, which is morally and ethically unacceptable. Without addressing these underlying causes, we are on a collision course to disaster.

Inspired by the values and principles of our various belief systems including faith, values and ethics, we recognise that:
1. Fossil fuel-based, extractive economies are accelerating climate change and loss of biodiversity.
2. Poor and marginalized people, especially women, children, older persons, Indigenous people and those with disabilities are most impacted by climate change;
3. We have abused nature and Indigenous peoples and have been complicit with colonial extractive practices. We need to change our relationship and learn to co-exist in a harmonious and symbiotic manner with earth and its ecosystems. The environment and the human family are interdependent.
4. We humans have failed in our responsibility as ‘earth keepers’ to protect the planet.
5. We must challenge the values, such as individualism and greed shaping our patterns of consumption and production.
6. We must rediscover the moral and spiritual roots of human beings, and rights and dignity of all beings.
7. We must strive to move from human superiority to human humility, from ego-centric to eco-centric and from being separate to nature, to interconnectedness.
8. We must urgently move from unbridled industrial growth to sustainable well-being.

We affirm that:
1. Faith and Indigenous leaders and actors have the potential to play an essential role in shaping global environmental governance and policy making. The traditions that we represent have unique capacities to convince, convene and contribute meaningful, moral, economic, spiritual, and social substance to public deliberations.
2. More than 84% of people believe in a religion or a spiritual belief and religious leaders can be found in every part of the world, from the most distant desert village to the densest informal settlement. Faith-based Organizations (FBOs) bring reach and values to the environmental movement.
3. FBOs are strong institutions and are actors of local development and have demonstrated relevance to development around the world, for instance in health and education.
4. The 1972 Stockholm Declaration recognized and referred to the necessity of spiritual growth of humans towards living in harmony with nature.
5. Women and girls in all their diversity are unequally impacted by climate change, but should have equal opportunities, meaningful participation, leadership and influence in climate solutions and access to climate finance;
6. All persons irrespective of their abilities, physical or otherwise, are recognised as equal, and have a vital role to play to respond to climate challenges, and contribute to a better tomorrow.

Call to action:
We therefore call governments, UN entities, civil society, as well as our own constituencies to act on the following demands/action points:
1. Recognize the role of faith, ethics, spiritual and cultural values in environmental governance through adopting a resolution to that effect by the United Nations Environment Assembly and provide the required platform and programme for engaging faith actors in policy dialogue;
2. Implement the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a key step towards achieving sustainable development, poverty eradication, inclusivity and gender equality, while respecting rights of nature.
3. Adopt a new development paradigm that integrates moral, spiritual and indigenous shared values;
4. Move from a neoliberal and “anthropocentric” worldview to an interconnected worldview;
5. Support a just transition from fossil-based extractive economy towards life-affirming “economy of life” and sustainable living, as promoted by the faith communities;
6. Adopt and implement an Ecocide law* and promote the Faith for Ecocide Law initiative by FBOs;
7. Ensure the human right to nutritious food and safe water and sanitation, including clean air for all in a healthy environment;
8. Implement the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a key step towards achieving sustainable development, poverty eradication, inclusivity and gender equality; 9. Amplify the voice of women and girls in all their diversity as important stakeholders of climate solutions and climate finance.
10. Raise awareness of concerns around carbon offset/nature-based solutions that can lead to abuse of land and rural people.

We commit ourselves to:
11. Act and practice what we preach, and to become protectors of this earth, to strive to live in harmony and sustainability, through our daily actions, how we invest, how we manage assets, and how we engage with our faith communities;
12. Divest from fossil fuels and call for an immediate halt to new fossil fuel explorations and to promote a responsible climate finance as a moral imperative in protecting the most vulnerable from impacts of climate change;
13. Promote “refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle” in all public events, leading by example to reduce pollution, especially plastic waste;
14. Amplify the prophetic voices of young people, older persons, women and Indigenous people; 15. As faith leaders, representatives of faith-based organizations and faith communities, to lead by example to reduce our carbon and water footprints for a healthy planet;
16. Strengthen the interconnectedness of relevant UN mandates such as the two new Human Rights Council Resolutions on climate change and human rights.
*(as it was first mentioned at the Stockholm conference in 1972 by the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme)

Al Madina Al Jadida

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