2018 Statement of the Religions for Peace APIYN
Asia Interfaith Youth Peace Camp
“Taking Action on Climate Change Through Interfaith Co-operation”
YANGON, Myanmar: From 17-20th December 2018, 81 young leaders from eleven countries across the Asia Pacific convened in Yangon, Myanmar for the fifth annual Asia Interfaith Youth Peace Camp, hosted by Religions for Peace Asia (ACRP) and the ACRP Seoul Peace Education Centre, in partnership with the Religions for Peace Myanmar. Delegates from Myanmar, Australia, China, India, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka convened to reflect upon the impact of climate change on their communities and across the region, and to develop action plans to address specific aspects of climate change at the local level.
Young leaders from across Asia, along with various observers, were warmly welcomed by the Myanmar Union Minister for Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture H.E. Thura U Aung Ko, and by dignitaries from the ACRP Seoul Peace Education Centre (Rev Teasung Kim, Director) Religions for Peace Asia (Rev Masamichi Kamiya, Advisor), Religions for Peace International (Rev Kyoichi Sugino, Deputy Secretary General), and Religions for Peace Myanmar (U Mint Swye, President).
Throughout the camp, the delegates learned about the scientific impact of climate change and the role that people of faith and good will can play in helping communities respond to it. Dr. Tun Lwin, former Director General of DMH, and CEO of the Myanmar Climate Change Watch, presented a seminar on the science of climate change and gave participants an overview of how climate change is affecting Myanmar. Mr. Christopher Zefting, Program Associate for Youth Network Coordination from Religions for Peace International, delivered a workshop on the Religion’s for Peace “Our Earth, Our Responsibility” campaign and climate change toolkit. Mr. Zefting highlighted that the campaign arose from a previous RfP APIYN Camp held in Cambodia, and its timeliness and inspired call to action resonated with the international network which lead to it’s global adoption. The participants also toured various places of worship and learned about each faith’s connection and concern to the environment through visitations to St Mary’s Cathedral, Islamic Centre of Myanmar, Shwedagon Pagoda, Sri Maha Kali Temple, and the Pan Pyo Let Monastic Education Centre.
RfP APIYN youth leaders Takashi Hashamoto (RfP APIYN Vice Moderator, Japan) Nivy Balachandran (RfP APIYN Strategic Partnerships, Australia) and Renz Argao (Chair of Youth Committee, RfP Philippines) facilitated various workshops throughout the camp guiding participants from thought to action, with a focus on leading discussions on climate change and on learning skills to facilitate interfaith dialogue and collaboration.
As young people from across the Asia Pacific, we recognize that climate change is a twin ecological and spiritual crisis, and that acting on climate change is our religious and moral responsibility. We acknowledge that our generation will inherit a world characterized by a warming global climate, and that our communities will have to endure extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels due to melting polar ice caps, flooding in some countries, yet harsh droughts in others.
We further acknowledge that Asian countries are some of the most at-risk countries in the world in suffering the consequences of climate change, and acknowledge the specific impact climate change is having on our host country, Myanmar. We know that climate change has altered our environment and leaves us with less water, poorer quality air, and harsher soil. In the face of these challenges, we are called to help our communities be smart about adapting to extreme weather patterns, resilient in the face of recurring natural disasters, and resourceful and responsible about sharing dwindling resources.
We recognize that climate change has already impacted every aspect of our lives and that we must act now to protect the environment by bringing diverse communities together to build collective impact on climate change. We therefore pledge as the youth leaders of RfP APIYN and as agents of change to take the following action on climate change in our communities:
To reduce with a goal to fully eliminating our own personal use of single use plastic items (eg water bottles and plastic bags) and to use reusable alternatives instead.
- To protect the forest by encouraging sustainable and appropriate tree planting and to advocate for forest protection and counter deforestation;
- To reduce use of non-renewable resource generated power (e.g. coal, gas) and our overall electricity consumption;
- To advocate for more efficient and comprehensive recycling and waste management systems in our respective countries, with a view to moving towards zero waste lifestyles;
- To support leaders who are committed to sustainability and sound environmental policy;
- To uphold and celebrate our community’s ecologically sound practices rooted in spiritual cultural traditions as a means of reducing our consumption;
- Reducing private and emission intense modes of travel, by using public transport and bicycles; and
- Where possible to reduce or eliminate animal based products from our diets.
We recognize that as young religious leaders from Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, and Muslim faiths, we are uniquely empowered by the wisdom of spirituality and ecology to encourage our communities to take action on climate change. As young leaders who are committed to inter-religious understanding, co-operation and action, we pledge to work side by side with people of all faiths, ethnicity and cultures to change the way we consume resources, and to act in a manner that will restore and conserve the Earth for the generations to come.