KINSHASA, Democratic Republic Of The Congo — Within the serene setting of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Kinshasa, a vibrant discussion on humanity’s relationship with the natural world unfolded.
A gathering organized by the Bahá’í Office of External Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo marked a special moment at the national level when government representatives, academics, civil society organizations, representatives of faith communities, and traditional leaders from throughout the country sat together to discuss environmental issues.
Christian Lupemba, a member of the Office of External Affairs, emphasized the importance of fostering a shared vision among these social actors. “Given the complexities of environmental issues,” he said, “no single entity can tackle these challenges alone. If we put our minds together, we can reach more effective solutions.”
Discussions drew inspiration from the Bahá’í International Community’s statement One Planet, One Habitation: A Bahá’í Perspective on Recasting Humanity’s Relationship with the Natural World.
Some of the themes highlighted in the BIC statement and explored by participants included the essential principle of humanity’s oneness as the foundation on which a sustainable society can be built and how to foster consensus in action through consultation, particularly in relation to increasing the participation of women in decision-making forums.
Faïda Chantal, a prominent social actor, spoke about barriers that prevent women from greater involvement in discussions concerning the environment. “We must ensure that women have equal access to the same information and opportunities as men,” she said, citing this as one of the reasons that women can be absent from decision-making forums.
Ms. Chantal further noted that the “cultural, institutional, and economic obstacles that women face” are in fact obstacles that prevent the progress of society.
Attendees expressed their appreciation for the gathering, noting that the environs of the temple provided a setting conducive to contemplation and an atmosphere that inspired rich discussion and deep interaction.
Laurent Kidinda, a representative from the Ministry of Social Affairs stated: “The House of Worship is unlike any other structure. When you enter the temple, you are overcome by an inner peace. You are attracted to stay, to pray, and to reflect deeply about the progress of Congolese society.”
This gathering was the first in a series of discussions planned by the Office of External Affairs to take place on the grounds of the newly inaugurated temple to explore issues of national concern.