11-15th March, 2015
San Francisco, CA
“We, people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions throughout the world …. unite to heal and protect the earth … unite in responsible cooperative action to bring the wisdom and values of our religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to bear on the economic, environmental, political and social challenges facing our Earth community.“
Quote from URI’s Preamble.
With these wise words in the backdrop, a group of environmentalists and religious figures gathered to create a platform to connect in a workshop titled “Global Greening through the Grassroots”. The workshop organized by United Religious Initiative “URI”; a global grassroots interfaith network with a presence in 85 countries through its ever growing Cooperation Circles, culminated in the creation of “URI Environmental Resource CC”.
The Network will provide a venue for environmentalists, religious figures, and various CCs to exchange experiences, best practices, discuss challenges, and potential partnering opportunities while maintaining emphasis on spirituality, bridge building and empathy.
The five days’ workshop included various presentations, visit to the Muir woods, Coyote Point by the Pacific Ocean to learn about Bay restoration, tour of Grace Cathedral, also included commemorating UN World Water Day, and an invocation ceremony at Fairmont Hotel.
During the workshop, EcoPeace Middle East representative presented a model of close collaboration between the environment and religion that stands at stark opposition with current prevalent strict dichotomies between religion and all other fields. The relationship is inseparable as manifested in the case of the Jordan River. The sacred River in the three Abrahamic Faiths has been severely polluted with sewage and fishpond waters. 96% of its waters have been diverted by neighboring countries for irrigation purposes reducing the once Might River to a small stream. Nonetheless, its sacredness is a turning point in its rehabilitation.
EcoPeace, a regional organization that works on environmental peacebuilding, took notice of its current deterioration and the need for its rehabilitation, joined hands with researchers, local and regional communities, politicians and religious leaders in a campaign titled “Save the Jordan”. The aim of the campaign is to bring the reality of the River to the forefront of community discussions and encourage action-based community-wide responses. It also attempts to leverage support from communities to help create political will among regional decision makers to act towards the Rivers rehabilitation.
A faithbased toolkit was also produced to support the campaign consisting of briefing documents, sourcebooks as well as postcards, presentations, films, flyers. All were designed uniquely and separately for Muslim, Christians and Jewish Communities to advance multi-faith discussions and joint actions. Most importantly is the Jordan River covenant that offers a shared vision for the Jordan valley. The organization encourages broad endorsement of the covenant as a call for decision-makers on all sides of the valley to transform a vision into a reality.
With its relentless efforts, support from local and regional communities, endorsements and support from religious figures and organizations, EcoPeace Middle East takes pride in the fact that for the first time in decades, fresh water is running in the Jordan River.
For more information about the campaign or find out ways to support the Rivers Rehabilitation visit: www.savethejordan.com
For more articles about the event, visit the links
For a picture album, click here
This post was contributed by Samar M. Salma, Media Officer/ PR & Projects Coordinator at the Amman Office.