- The document, signed by high-level faith leaders from across the world, shows commitment to take swift and decisive action to address the climate emergency
- The COP28 Faith Pavilion brings interfaith cooperation to a global stage, to inspire ambitious goals and to call for concrete commitments on climate change.
Dubai – His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb and His Holiness Pope Francis have signed a declaration of support for urgent climate action, giving video addresses to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.
Video messages from Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb were broadcast to delegates at COP28, giving messages of urgency and hope for robust climate action.
The Pope and Grand Imam have also signed the Interfaith Statement on Climate Action for COP28, designed to harness the collective influence of religious representatives to inspire humanity to advance environmental justice, in recognition that the vast majority of the global population identifies with a religion.
Rooted in the principles of justice, causing no harm, and fostering peace with all living beings – the statement issues a resolute call to action directed at heads of state, governments, civil society, and business leaders. It impels urgent responses, including the acceleration of energy transitions, transition to circular models of living in harmony with nature, and rapid adoption of clean energy.
The statement was drafted by high-level faith leaders from around the world ahead of COP28, at the Global Faith Leaders Summit held in Abu Dhabi in November, organized by the Muslim Council of Elders in collaboration with the COP28 Presidency and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
In his video address shown at COP28, His Holiness Pope Francis said: “Today, the world needs alliances that are not against someone, but for the benefit of everyone. Let us, as religious representatives, set an example to show that change is possible, to demonstrate respectful and sustainable lifestyles, and let us fervently ask the leaders of nations to preserve our common home.”
In his video address shown at COP28, His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar said: “The exceptional initiatives undertaken by the Muslim Council of Elders - firstly, inviting diverse religious figures to sign the Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement for COP28 and secondly, establishing the first-ever Faith Pavilion at COP28 - are precious opportunities in making the voice of religious leaders heard in the face of global challenges - especially advancing the protection of our common home from irreversible destruction, which looms larger every passing year.”
His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence in the United Arab Emirates added, "We welcome you to the Faith Pavilion, a collaborative initiative led by the Muslim Council of Elders in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme and the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence. We also affirm that the United Arab Emirates, under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, stands as a nation dedicated to peace, embracing it both as a means and an end. The UAE also prioritizes tolerance, harmony, and human fraternity as fundamental principles and plays a pivotal role on the global stage by diligently working towards protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development. The UAE is also deeply committed to cooperation and collective action, firmly believing that the progress and stability of the world depends on such collaboration."
COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said: “Climate change cares little about our politics, our borders, or our differences in religion. Our success depends on our ability to come together as one global community to solve it, and global faith communities play a significant role in instilling awareness of the shared social responsibility of all people worldwide towards environmental protection. Faith communities have come together in a truly historic moment of hope, peace, and optimism, uniting around a shared commitment to protect our planet.”
Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders said: “The first-ever Faith Pavilion at COP28 is a place of peace and cooperation for all - bringing together the wisdom of religions at COP28.”
He added that the signing of the Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement for COP28, by representatives of various religions and beliefs, sends a strong message to policymakers about the importance of mobilizing faith communities to raise awareness about the climate crisis.
The statement has also been signed by faith and spiritual leaders from around the world, representing Anglicans, Bahá’is, Bohras, Buddhists, Coptic Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Evangelicals, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Mahikaris, Mandaeans, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Shia Muslims, Sikhs, and Sunni Muslims.
First-ever Faith Pavilion calls for climate policy changes
In the statement, the faith leaders also committed to supporting the first-ever Faith Pavilion at COP28, where over 300 high-profile faith leaders and public figures are taking part across 70+ sessions fostering meaningful interfaith collaboration and engagement, with the goal of catalysing effective and ambitious climate action. The space will host dialogues and sessions promoting climate justice collaboration among religious and Indigenous representatives, scientists, young people, and political leaders.
The full interfaith statement is available as a PDF attachment and can be found online here.
For further information, interviews and comment, please contact: FaithPavilion@greenhouse.agency.
About the COP28 Faith Pavilion
The Faith Pavilion will be hosted by the Muslim Council of Elders in collaboration with the COP28 Presidency, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), and a coalition of faith partners including the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, the Episcopal Diocese of California, the Partnership on Religion and Development, Peace Department, and over 70 faith-based organisations. The Pavilion will host more than 70 sessions with religious figures, scientists, and political leaders, as well as encouraging intergenerational dialogue involving young faith leaders and indigenous peoples.
About UNEP Faith for Earth Initiative
The UN Environment Program's Faith for Earth Initiative promotes faith leadership, faith-based organizations and communities as custodians of far-reaching, value-based perspectives on environmental sustainability.
About the Muslim Council of Elders
The Muslim Council of Elders is an independent international organization that aims to promote peace within Muslim communities and between Muslim communities and non-Muslim communities. The Council - chaired by His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb - unites Muslim scholars, experts, and dignitaries internationally recognized for their wisdom, understanding of justice, independence, and moderation.
About the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development
The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development connects religion and ecology and galvanizes faith communities’ action and teaching on environmental sustainability.
About The Episcopal Diocese of California
The Episcopal Diocese of California, also known as the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area, serves a diverse community of faith encompassing the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
About the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD)
The International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) convenes governments, multilateral entities, academia and religious actors to amplify contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
COP28 will be held at Expo City Dubai from 30 Nov. to 12 Dec. 2023. More than 70,000 participants – including heads of state, government officials, industry leaders and climate experts – will come to the UAE to help deliver a vital blueprint for action to safeguard the planet.
Facts on the scale and breadth of the faith movement active in communities globally
- Six billion people (84% of the world’s population) have a faith, religion or values system
- More than 1.5 million projects globally to address climate change are run by faith groups
- Faith groups own and are responsible for more than 8% of the Earth’s habitable land
- Faith groups own and are responsible for more than 5% of all commercial forests on the planet
- More than 4 in 10 health services (40%) in some countries are operated by faith groups 
- Half of schools worldwide (50%) are owned or operated by faith groups - rising to 64% of schools in sub-Saharan Africa
- 10% of the world’s financial institutions are faith-related, making faith institutions the world’s third largest investor. Research shows that “faith-aligned” impact investment capital is valued at $5 trillion worldwide