December 5, 2023 — New York, NY
American Jewish Committee (AJC), the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, this week spearheaded discussions on faith and climate change at COP28 in Dubai. AJC, the only Jewish organization with an office in the United Arab Emirates, was also the only Jewish organization to sponsor a panel at the first-ever Faith Pavilion at a UN Climate Conference.
Moderated by Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC’s Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, the panel “Practical Faith Leadership in Addressing Climate Change” featured His Excellency Sheikh Al Mahfoudh Bin Bayyah, Secretary-General of the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace; Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary-General of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and President of Divine Shakti Foundation; and Reverend Christine Trainor, Senior Priest at St. Andrew’s Church in Abu Dhabi.
“It is a historic development for COP that a Faith Pavilion was established as integral to meeting the climate crisis challenge,” said Marans. “It is particularly appropriate that this has happened in the UAE, a country long known for its promotion of interreligious dialogue and tolerance.”
The dynamic and timely conversation among the four faith leaders revealed unifying principles shared among the represented communities when addressing climate change.
“As people of faith we realize that the Earth is sacred,” declared Saraswati.
Trainor drew on sacred texts, noting that “a critical religious value is to love your neighbor as yourself, and that must include care for the environment.”
A collective call to action was summarized by Bin Bayyah: “The climate crisis calls us towards a unity rooted in love, transcending the bounds of disasters and conflicts.”
AJC has consistently contributed to regional cooperation efforts beginning in the 1990s, and since the 2021 opening of AJC Abu Dhabi, has advanced these efforts through sustained engagement with local partners.
While in the UAE, Marans met with AJC interlocutors and spent Shabbat with the local Jewish community at the Moses Ben Maimon synagogue of the Abrahamic Family House, the groundbreaking multifaith campus with a mosque, church, and synagogue that opened earlier this year in Abu Dhabi.
“AJC’s office in Abu Dhabi puts us at the center of regional efforts to promote dialogue and seek cooperative solutions to regional and global issues,” said AJC Abu Dhabi Director Ambassador Marc Sievers. “Our decades of work have allowed us to play a key role in addressing major challenges - including climate - even in the most challenging of times. AJC will continue to pursue paths for collaboration that increase regional stability and security.”
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit www.ajc.org.