The Muslim Council of Elders: Exceptional Initiatives to Protect Planet Earth

Abu Dhabi, March ..., 2024: Climate change stands as one of the gravest challenges threatening life on our planet. In response to its religious and humanitarian obligations, the Muslim Council of Elders, under the chairmanship of His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, has undertaken several practical initiatives to address climate change. These initiatives highlight the critical need for international collaboration in environmental preservation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, and adopting eco-friendly technology.

Before the COP26 conference in Glasgow in 2021, the Grand Imam issued a global warning about the dire consequences of climate change, describing it as a clarion call necessitating earnest and determined efforts to mitigate climate change risks and safeguard humanity's future.

Aligning with the COP27 climate summit in the Arab Republic of Egypt towards the end of 2022, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders stressed the importance of educating young people on environmental issues and climate change mitigation through educational curriculums, given the severe challenges and repercussions our world confronts, endangering the future of present human beings and upcoming generations.

That same year, during an extraordinary meeting of the Muslim Council of Elders chaired by His Eminence the Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb and attended by His Holiness Pope Francis in Manama, Bahrain, His Eminence reaffirmed Islam's directive on environmental conservation, urging for investments in sustainable practices, and prohibiting actions like cutting or drowning trees and plants with the intention of destruction. He warned that current environmental degradation and exploitation contradict God's intentions for His vast creation.

With the United Arab Emirates hosting COP28 last year, the Muslim Council of Elders redoubled its efforts to engage religious leaders in addressing global issues, particularly climate change, as the world grapples with the adverse effects of the climate crisis threatening Earth's existence.

In 2023, concerted efforts were made globally to rally religious leaders around the climate issue. Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders, visited Rome, Italy, several times to meet with His Holiness Pope Francis and discuss initiating an effort to galvanize faith leaders in tackling climate challenges. The Council also hosted the Religion and Climate Change Conference in Southeast Asia in Jakarta, Indonesia, attended by nearly 150 religious representatives from the region, alongside scholars, intellectuals, and youth engaged in climate discussions.

That year, in collaboration with the COP28 presidency, the UAE's Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence, and the United Nations Environment Programme, the Council held the Global Faith Leaders' Summit in Abu Dhabi. The summit brought together representatives from 18 religions and 30 denominations from across the globe, including environmental experts, academics, and civil society members, such as youth, women, and indigenous peoples.

The summit concluded with the “Call of Conscience: The Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement for Climate,” signed by His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, His Holiness Pope Francis, Pontiff of the Catholic Church, and 28 other religious leaders, urging tangible actions to combat the climate crisis and protect our planet.

These endeavors were highlighted during the Faith Pavilion at COP28, marking a first in the history of the COP conferences. It featured over 65 dialogue sessions with around 325 speakers worldwide, creating a global platform for interfaith dialogue to foster environmental justice and safeguard the environment for present and future generations.

Moving forward, the Council plans to continue building on these efforts, advancing the role of religious leaders and figures in expediting climate change mitigation, particularly in the world's most vulnerable communities.



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