King Harald V of Norway plans to host a meeting of religious and indigenous leaders, interfaith advocates and scientists this week to address the worldwide crisis of deforestation and its effects on climate change.
Religious and Indigenous leaders from 21 countries convened at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo on Monday for a three-day conference on rainforest protection. They are slated to meet with forest advocates, climate scientists and human rights experts to develop goals and actions for a rainforest initiative that blends science, faith, and indigenous knowledge.
“The fact that the U.N. and a major government are open to hosting this and synergizing science and religion, ecology and ethics make it an exciting moment,” said Mary Evelyn Tucker, director of Yale University’s Forum on Religion and Ecology, one of the co-sponsors of the event.
The conference participants include indigenous leaders from tropical forest nations like Indonesia, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as religious leaders from Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions. Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Rabbi David Rosen, the director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, and Dr. Din Syamsuddin, an Islamic scholar and head of the Center for Dialogue and Cooperation Among Civilizations, are listed among the attendees.
“A decade ago, Norway decided to make reducing tropical deforestation one of its top international priorities,” said Vidar Helgesen, the country’s minister of climate and environment, in a statement. “In that decade ― the scientific case, the economic case, and the geopolitical case for ending deforestation have only grown.”
This week’s conference, convened by Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, Rainforest Foundation Norway and the United Nations Development Programme, aims to investigate how religious and cultural values can bolster efforts to protect the world’s rainforests.