On 8 February 2023, the Centre for Applied Buddhism (CfAB), an independent research center in the UK founded by the Soka Gakkai to encourage Buddhist study and dialogue, hosted the latest in a series of webinars addressing different aspects of the climate crisis. Cocreated by CfAB and SGI-UK, the webinar followed the publication in 2022 of Faith Voices for Ecocide Law, authored by End Ecocide Sweden. The book brings together faith perspectives and those from indigenous spiritual traditions to explore why, at this time of multiple environmental crises, the need to establish an Ecocide Law is so urgent.
Ecocide literally means “to kill one’s home.” The international campaign “End Ecocide Now” is calling for a global response to prevent mass damage and destruction of ecosystems by including ecocide as a crime against peace under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which would create legal protection for life on Earth.
Jamie Cresswell and Michele Lamb from CfAB contributed an essay to Faith Voices for Ecocide Law exploring Buddhist perspectives, titled “Opening Up a Treasure House of Possibilities.” The authors are both members of SGI-UK, and their theme was inspired by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2019 peace proposal in which he called for building peace through dialogue, deepening our collective understanding of the interdependence of all life, and opening up the infinite, dynamic possibilities of the treasure of peace and dialogue.
Michele Lamb also chaired the webinar discussion, which included several speakers: activist Pella Thiel, the book’s editor and originator from End Ecocide Sweden; Jamie Cresswell, Director of CfAB; Appolinaire Oussou Lio, President of GRABE-Benin, who contributed an endogenous Vodun spiritual perspective from Benin; and Hanna Soldal, Coordinator of Global Advocacy and Youth Participation at the Church of Sweden Youth.
The discussion addressed the role of faith communities in how to promote understanding of ecocide, how young people of faith can amplify their voices on ending ecocide, why establishing ecocide as a crime against humanity is important and how faith groups can foster greater understanding of ecocide in their communities. Speakers also shared their own experiences, demonstrating the numerous ways in which faith communities encourage respect for life and the planet. They agreed that diverse faiths have much in common and that their communities can achieve more by working in harmony than by working alone.
The webinar also emphasized the need to listen to indigenous spiritual voices and recognized the interdependence of ecocide, climate justice, human rights and global inequality. Another common theme was the importance of listening to voices from the Global South, which are too often marginalized.
The audience of more than 85 participants contributed numerous challenging questions, which made for a lively discussion. One participant pointed out that the campaign to establish an Ecocide Law has direct parallels with SGI’s efforts to lessen the risk of the use of nuclear weapons and the effort to establish international treaties on nuclear arms reduction. As she said, the use of nuclear weapons would constitute the ultimate crime of ecocide on an unimaginable scale. For that reason, ending ecocide and realizing climate justice and nuclear abolition share the same urgency.
The book Faith Voices for Ecocide Law is available for free download here: https://www.faithforecocidelaw.earth/faith-voices-for-ecocide-law/
A recording of the webinar can be found here: https://vimeo.com/sgiuk/faith-for-ecocide-law
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