Join us in celebrating our 60th Anniversary
FORUM2020 Science, Spirituality, the Climate Emergency and Our Future
and Global Interfaith Prayer Service for the Earth
This week, October 16 and 17, Friday and Saturday, we are celebrating our 60th anniversary by lifting up voices and prayers around the climate emergency. You may still register online- please join us!

UN General Assembly and Side Events
The recent UN General Assembly was held as a primarily virtual event. There are so many videos and reports available online. The Temple of Understanding contributes a moral voice, follows many threads, and weaves connections where we can. Bio-diversity, women’s rights, oceans, elimination of nuclear weapons, financing for development and more were showcased this year. 

The UN Summit on Bio-diversity addressed bio-diversity loss as a vital part of the climate emergency. The Secretary General says that: 
Humanity is waging war on nature. We need to rebuild our relationship with it… 
Wildlife populations are plummeting because of overconsumption, population growth and intensive agriculture… Yet, despite repeated commitments, our efforts have not been sufficient to meet any of the global biodiversity targets set for 2020. Much greater ambition is needed – not just from governments, but from all actors in society…. our economic systems and financial markets must account for and invest in nature… Nature’s resources still do not figure in countries’ calculations of wealth. The current system is weighted towards destruction, not preservation.
The OECD estimates the annual global funding needed for nature at between 300 and 400 billion dollars – much less than current levels of harmful subsidies for agriculture, mining and other destructive industries.

The Temple of Understanding has signed on to a multi-religious statement calling for action on bio-diversity, including: 
  • Developing and implementing long term, values-based and scientifically-informed plans to regenerate, protect, and nurture the Earth’s ecosystems for the next decade and beyond.
  • Working cooperatively, and collectively, helping each other along the journey to achieve a carbon neutral, nature-positive future.
  • Working with humility, understanding that many solutions are to be found in nature
  • Integrating humanity’s collective wisdom into our efforts, particularly that of indigenous communities and the perspectives of those most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental degradation.
  • Engaging in a process of periodic tracking, re-assessment, and re-alignment in light of changing realities and opportunities.

Of particular interest is the session Biodiversity – the Ocean’s Role. The ocean is “ the largest reservoir of biodiversity and life.” The full recording is available online, along with shorter videos from key speakers. 

Women's Human Rights
Women’s human rights, and in particular education, are a critical part of addressing climate change; the vision of the Beijing Platform of Action was reaffirmed at the UN high level meeting of world leaders on the 25th anniversary. Full details are online here.

Leaders reaffirm the
International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
Peace is a critical part of a survivable future, and nuclear weapons could destroy the world many times over. The arts are a powerful way to open hearts and communicate ultimate concerns. As part of this initiative, a wonderful film was shown. The Man Who Saved the World, features Stanislav Petrov, a Russian military man in charge who followed his heart and did not follow the protocol for responding to reports of incoming missiles. He was right; it was a system failure, and his refusal to launch retaliation saved the world in 1983.
Financing for Development
The High Level session on Financing for Development laid out challenges for the world’s financial systems, including debt relief, tax justice, and more responses to the COVID- 19 pandemic. Ambitions require undergirding financial changes, such as: 
  • Ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Ensuring that countries have access to sufficient liquidity
  • Providing more time for distressed countries to make bilateral debt payments
  • Strengthening support from international financial institutions
  • Enhancing focused funding to alleviate COVID-19
  • Investing in jobs for all—immediately in gender-sensitive, equitable and sustainable jobs 
  • Lowering costs of remittances
  • Clamping down on illicit financial flows
  • Including climate risk disclosures
  • Aligning national and local budgets with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement

The Temple of Understanding signed on to this Civil Society open letter to heads of state, calling for urgent global economic solutions. 

SDG Action Zone 
“The SDG Action Zone is the foremost collaborative space for engaging world leaders and emerging leaders to supercharge and accelerate solutions for the sustainable development goals. Over the course of three days during the UN General Assembly on 22-24 September 2020, the fully virtual SDG Action Zone convened leading thinkers, actors, creators, and activists through frank debate, challenging discussions, inspiring showcases and creative experiences to drive the exponential change on three core areas for accelerating action on the Goals: People, Planet and Partnerships.” View the videos of the event at your leisure.