SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — In their contributions to discussions at the COP27 climate summit, which has now drawn to a close, the delegates from the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) have emphasized a pivotal idea—if humanity is to address the myriad of climate issues it is facing, the nations of the world need to reach consensus on the essential guiding principles that recast the relationship between society and the natural world.
“The natural world offers profound insight into the essence of coexistence and interdependence,” said Hatem El-Hady, a representative of the Cairo Office of the BIC, at an event titled “Coexistence between peoples and the earth.”
Mr. El-Hady explained that the nations of the world must develop their capacity to work together in order to protect the environment and that the animating force behind this advance must be the recognition of humanity’s inherent oneness.
Saphira Rameshfar, a representative of the New York Office of the BIC, elaborated on this idea, stating: “We cannot talk about coexistence and living in harmony with the planet unless we are able to consult together and understand one another deeply. We have to learn to see reality from many different perspectives and be open to our own thinking being enhanced by the perceptions and experiences of others.”
Ms. Rameshfar highlighted that consultation, when approached as a means for investigating truth, can enable people from diverse backgrounds to avoid adversarial tendencies, transcend differences, and harmonize perspectives.
“The ability to consult in this way,” she said, “and really understand where humanity is at present, is essential to moving toward a mature society that is at peace with itself and with the environment.”
The two-week UN conference brought together more than 100 heads of state and government, as well as over 35,000 other attendees, including numerous civil society organizations, journalists, media outlets, businesses, climate activists, and members of the public, to examine global efforts addressing climate change.
Mr. El-Hady and Ms. Rameshfar were joined in the BIC delegation to the conference by Bani Dugal and Daniel Perell from the BIC New York Office, Peter Aburi and Laura Musonye from Kenya, and Ian Hamilton from the United States.
A glimpse of BIC’s participation at COP27
Provided below are a few highlights from contributions of the BIC delegation to numerous discussions at COP27, in which representatives explored themes that are essential for establishing new patterns of social organization that meet today’s needs, including: redefining notions of progress and development on the basis of a more accurate understanding of human nature and the important role of government in building a more sustainable world.
At a press conference held by the BIC, two of its representatives, Bani Dugal and Daniel Perell, highlighted the gap between intention and action as one of the central challenges facing humanity in addressing climate change. “Humanity has tremendous potential and ingenuity to solve the many problems before it,” said Mr. Perell, “These must now be harnessed through determined collective volition—a resource that rests on confidence in humanity’s capacity and hope for a better future.”
Ms. Dugal, quoting the BIC statement One Planet, One Habitation, said: “The world that beckons is one of integration and balance, beauty, and maturity. It is a world with a redefined sense of progress, filled with communities and individuals working together with the support of institutions toward the realization of their highest aspirations. It is a world increasingly relieved of the destructive moral compromises—social, economic, and environmental—that have so often been asserted as necessary to progress.”
A recording of this event can be seen here.
Mr. Perell moderated an event titled “Realizing Ambition through Ethical, Intergenerational and Multisectoral Responses to Climate Crises.” Ms. Dugal spoke about the need for constructive relationships between the individual, the community, and institutions.
Other panelists included Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace; Bakoa Kaltongga, Member of Parliament in Vanuatu and Special Envoy on Climate Change; Maria Fernanda Espinosa, former President of the UN General Assembly; Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, Senior Representative of Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Co-President of Religions for Peace, Egypt.
The BIC created a booth that invited participants to describe the values needed for stewardship of the environment.
The BIC delegates also participated in an event titled “Localized Financing for Climate Change Adaptation: Reducing Loss & Damage and Inequity Cycles,” which was moderated by Mr. Perell.
A recording of the event can be seen here.
Mr. Perell at an event titled “Changing Youth Narratives from Risk to Resilience,” which looked at experiences from the efforts of young people to increase climate resilience.
The BIC screened a short film titled “Tanna: A study in leadership and action,” which explores how constructive relationships between individuals, the community, and institutions paved the path for a youth-led social action initiative to revitalize and protect a coral reef ecosystem off the shores of Tanna, Vanuatu.
The film can be viewed here.
At an event titled “Expanding Coexistence Between Peoples and With the Earth System: Insights and Experiences from the Egyptian National Bahá’í Community,” Aya Mustafa, a member of the Bahá’í community of Egypt, spoke about how Bahá’í moral educational programs are enabling young people from diverse backgrounds to serve the needs of their communities together. “These young people learn to transcend their differences by striving to develop qualities and attributes such as trustworthiness, forbearance, and patience, because they understand that these are building blocks for social progress and for taking care of our planet,” she said.
Mr. Aburi spoke at a press conference about the need for rethinking economic arrangements in light of the principle of the oneness of humanity.
“Our efforts will need an awakening of values, ethics, and leadership that unite us in working together for the betterment of society,” he said, emphasizing the point that there is an inherent moral dimension to the generation, distribution, and utilization of wealth and resources.
He added: “Economic decisions must, therefore, be taken in accordance with high ideals. The start of any deliberation can no longer be about the accumulation of wealth or power but geared towards an understanding that wealth must serve humanity.”
Some members of the BIC delegation.
Additional members of the BIC delegation.
This BIC statement, titled One Planet, One Habitation, presents a thought-provoking reading of the root causes of escalating environmental breakdown and highlights principles and proposals for action that draw on experiences over many decades “where the international community not only imagined a better world, but attempted action along paths previously untraveled.”
A microsite created by the BIC further explores the themes from the statement One Planet, One Habitation, providing insights from Bahá’í endeavors in several places around the world that address local environmental issues.
Another statement released by the BIC, titled The Heart of Resilience, proposes that the principle of equality of women and men will need to be intentionally woven into the processes of governance for fostering resilience in the face of the climate crisis.