Religions unite to urge G8 leaders to take bold action on global issues

May 31, 2011
Some 30 senior religious representatives gathered at the G8 Religious Summit in Bordeaux, 23-24 May 2011, the seventh in a series of interfaith gatherings aimed at identifying areas of moral consensus among religions.

BORDEAUX, France — Representatives of the Baha'i Faith have joined a call for the G8 bloc of nations to take bold action on the interconnected crises faced by humanity.

Two Baha'i delegates gathered with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto and Sikh colleagues, as well as members of interfaith organisations, at the Religious Summit in Bordeaux to deliberate on matters related to the agendas of the G8 Deauville Summit and the G20 Cannes Summit, scheduled for 3-4 November 2011.

Summit Moderator His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis, Co-President of the Council of Churches of France, told participants that they were face-to-face not just as religious leaders but as representatives of humanity, speaking with one voice to the leaders of the G8 and G20 countries.

That voice was heard in a unanimously agreed statement drafted at the meeting and later presented to the Secretary General of the G8.

In addition to recommendations on five major themes – reforming global governance, the macro-economic situation, climate change, development, and investing in peace – the statement called for representatives from the African continent and the Middle East to be included in the G8 and the G20 meetings.

"Our diverse backgrounds and experience enriched our consultation," the statement said.

"The trauma of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster described by our Japanese colleagues, the experience and aspirations of our friends from countries in the Middle East and the deep concern of our African colleagues at the continued marginalization of their voice underlined the urgency of the issues under consideration."

The statement concluded by urging the G8 and G20 "to continue to expand and strengthen the needed global response to global challenges."

"We – leaders of diverse religious communities throughout the world – re-commit ourselves to working together across religious lines for the common good and with governments and other partners of good will. We remain convinced – each in accordance with the teachings of their tradition – that justice, compassion and reconciliation are essential for genuine peace," the statement said.

Baha'i representation

"The participants in this Summit demonstrated a sincere desire to find a way to translate the spiritual principles that inform their worldview into concrete and practical recommendations that would assist G8 leaders to address the challenges facing humanity," said Baha'i representative Susanne Tamas from Canada.

"The genuine respect and keen interest with which people listened to one another and sought to deepen their understanding of complex issues was very impressive," said Ms. Tamas.

Fellow Baha'i delegate Barney Leith, from the United Kingdom, agreed.

"The spirit of unity that infused the gathering was deeply moving," he said.

"There was a strong sense in which all those at the Summit understood themselves to be part of a single human family and to be utterly committed to reminding leaders of powerful nations of their moral commitment to reducing human suffering."

The G8 Religious Leaders Summit was held in Bordeaux on the 23-24 May. It was the seventh in a series of interfaith gatherings aimed at identifying areas of moral consensus among religions. Previous Summits were held prior to each G8 Summit in the United Kingdom (2005), Russia (2006), Germany (2007), Japan (2008), Italy (2009) and Canada (2010).