Speech for the opening of the Faith Pavillon in Dubai in the Blue Zone of COP 28 in Dubai November 30 to December 12, 2023

The 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (“COP28”) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, taking place from November 30 to December 12, had a Faith Pavillon located in the so-called “Blue Zone”—the negotiating zone for the governments requiring special accreditation. The pavilion was a collaboration between the COP28 Presidency, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Muslim Council of Elders, the World Evangelical Alliance and others.

Restoring all of Creation

Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General, World Evangelical Alliance

Peace and blessings from God, the Creator of all things.

Let me quote from our Holy Scripture in the Letter to the Colossians:

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

As Christians, we believe that all things are created and sustained and will one day be restored by the triune God through Jesus Christ. Too often my own faith tradition has reduced this reference to “all things” being restored to apply only to human beings. But Holy Scripture says all creation, the whole created order, will be restored. I am deeply convinced that we Christians need to rethink how we learn, teach and live out our faith in this regard.

The most pressing challenge of our time is the triple planetary crisis consisting of the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the pollution crisis. We have gathered here to reaffirm our common commitment to doing all we can as faith communities to combat these threats. But also, we are here to offer words and approaches from the richness of our faith foundations to a world in which faith plays a major role in the everyday lives of 80% of all people. We know that changed attitudes must come before any change in actions. A rediscovery of morality brings forth a rediscovery of the right way of life.

In my function as Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, I attended the historic interfaith meeting on October 4, 2021 at the Vatican titled “Faith and Science: Towards COP26,” and I signed its call together with 40 other faith leaders. I warmly welcome the initiative of the COP28 Presidency, the Muslim Council of Elders and UNEP to build on the momentum created back then and to inspire continuous engagement of high-level faith leaders around the major environmental challenges of our times. The title of this conference (“Confluence of Conscience”) is apt. May we find together, through open and honest sharing of what deeply defines us and what deeply drives us as people of faith, the shared vision that gives glory to God and nurtures and sustains His entire created order.


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