URI Youth Call for Change

24 April 2020

Global Youth Movement, a URI member group composed of young peacebuilding leaders worldwide, shares this message as a call for attention to how we can all make a change, together.

Read the Facebook post.

Earth Day is observed on April 22 in order to create awareness about pollution and to celebrate the environment of our planet. This year is a special occasion, as it marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The theme of the day this year is ‘Climate Action’. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. It’s our home and the onus lies on you and me. While we do this, it is necessary that we unite irrespective of our differences. Interfaith peace and harmony would be the first positive step as a part of a set of collective actions towards this great task.

We see the trauma, anxiety, vulnerability and loss of life around the world caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are appalled by the increase in human rights violations, including racism, extreme surveillance, xenophobia, misuses of emergency powers and domestic violence. We remain hopeful as we see people of all faiths and across all borders rising to a powerful call of solidarity, kindness, and support, adjusting our lives for the greater good, looking into creative and simple solutions to show care for one another. We also witness more time for reflection.

We proclaim loudly that we were already living in a state of emergency prior to COVID-19. We have a responsibility to ensure we do not return to behaviors which, as the current crisis has shown, leave the vast majority extremely vulnerable to hardship and suffering after only a few weeks of economic stagnation. Here we see the role of faith in learning from the COVID-19 crisis and to advocate for a just recovery to build a healthier future where the human family lives in a way that respects nature and Mother Earth on which we all depend.

The choices we now make will shape our society for years and it is crucial that efforts to rebuild economies put people’s health before profit. Governments have pledged extraordinary amounts of money to prevent economic disasters because of this pandemic, but that money must not be used to finance future environmental degradation. We must not return to relaunching fossil fuel subsidies and unhealthy consumption patterns. The plans for a just recovery from COVID-19 must take into account the necessary measures to tackle climate change with a managed, planned and fair approach. We call for a rebuilding which upholds the human rights, health and well being of citizens as critical to the stability and security of all countries.

We are moved by our faiths to see beyond this moment of fear and call on solidarity, community action and moral courage. We call on the governments and all people, to build a sustainable, just and healthy society that is resilient in times of crises such as this and climate change, and to act early enough to prevent greater hardship and suffering in the future. After overcoming this pandemic, we will be left with a new earth with clear skies, fresh waters and less polluted land. Even the ozone layer is self healing. Let us make sure that we preserve this new earth as our soul responsibility. Let us remember our brothers and sisters who have passed away due to this crisis and dedicate this new world for them. May the almighty God bless us all and may peace prevail on Mother Earth.