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A climate of interfaith

Last week, religious and indigenous leaders from 21 countries convened at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo for a three-day conference on rainforest protection. The purpose of this Interfaith Rainforest Initiative was to investigate how religious and cultural values can bolster efforts to protect the world’s rainforests. They met with forest activists, climate scientists and human rights experts to develop goals and actions for a rainforest initiative that blends science, faith and indigenous knowledge.

“A decade ago, Norway decided to make reducing tropical deforestation one of its top international priorities,” said Vidar Helgesen, Minister of Climate and Environment (Norway). “In that decade—the scientific case, the economic case, and the geopolitical case for ending deforestation has only grown. However, more is needed. There is a dimension to this fight that will require a global, tectonic shift in values. It is not the realm of policy, commerce or science, but of spirit, faith and moral conviction.”

Rainforests are capable of storing billions of tons of carbon, and scientists consider them to be among the most important resources for mitigating climate change. On a more immediate level, tropical rainforests provide food, water and income to some 1.6 billion people, according to the United Nations. The humanitarian component of forest conservation is something almost all of the world’s religions can get behind.

For many years, Norway has invested some of its huge petroleum revenues in forests, and in particular, rainforests, as a key component of stopping and even reversing climate change. The government has also become keenly aware of the plight of the peoples of the world’s rainforests. As the forests are destroyed for commercial farming and livestock, the Indigenous People who live in them and care for them become victims of ethnic cleansing, including violence and murder. Norway has invested nearly US$3 billion so far over the past decade to support developing countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, and has committed to stay the course with similarly high levels of ambition through 2030.

The group was convened by Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, GreenFaith, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Religions for Peace, REIL Network and the World Council of Churches.

Story sourced from:

Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen, speaking at Interfaith Rainforest Initiative in Oslo. Photo: Ronny Hansen/

Videos from the event:

Signing of Interfaith Rainforest Initiative statement Oslo

Rainforests are crucial to the global climate

Why save the rainforests?