Earth Restoration and Justice Today and Everyday

5 June 2024

Message from Jerry White on World Environment Day

Peace and Greetings to you all! 

My name is Jerry White and I have the great fortune of serving as the Executive Director for the United Religions Initiative, or “URI.”  We are a global grassroots interfaith network that cultivates peace, justice and healing by engaging people to end religiously motivated violence and to celebrate cultural differences through daily acts of cooperation. 

I want to wish us all an inspired and engaged World Environment Day.  For me, it feels important to share a few minutes with you on this day, and to stress that this day must not stand on its own.  None of us have to look far to feel the deadly impacts of worsening climate disasters or the intensifying conflicts as healthy land and clean water grow scarcer. 

Embracing interfaith cooperation is a lot like working to protect or restore the vitality of an ecosystem.  When the focus is only on helping one species thrive, other parts of the habitat get stressed, depleted, or become overly forceful.  True flourishing arrives when an ecosystem finds reciprocity with all species communicating their needs, offering their gifts and working interdependently. 

In the URI Charter it says, “We unite in responsible cooperative action to bring the wisdom and values of our religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to bear on the economic, environmental, political and social challenges facing our Earth community.”  Just as soil, birds and trees work together to create a healthy eco-system, gender equality, job security and clean water work together to create healthy communities. Indigenous wisdom and the teachings of world religions urge us to recognize that working to restore Earth and taking good care of one another are always related. 

Across the URI network, in more than 100 countries, thousands of local groups – Cooperation Circles – are demonstrating how in one place caring for Earth needs to be planting a community garden and how somewhere else it is about returning land to the ones who can best steward it into the future.

Planting thousands of trees along Malawi’s Lilongwe River; modeling regenerative lifestyles at an eco-village outside Amman, Jordan; mentoring youth in indigenous Earth-keeping practices in Uganda; improving soil health while establishing income for women with a grove of mango trees in Kolkata, India; teaching beekeeping at a Syrian refugee camp; and teaching eco-literacy to children in Cambodia are only a few of the hundreds of ways Cooperation Circles are inviting people around the world to restore degraded ecosystems and protect biodiversity while also strengthening local economies and deepening local peace-building practices.

Very much like dynamic and responsive ecosystems, faith groups and spiritual communities are being asked to bring our bring creativity and resilience to conflicts, disruptions and even disasters. 

Today – and everyday - we send our care, concern and love to all beings (human and all species) who are suffering in storms and conflicts that are happening because of our disconnection with nature and one another.

Today – and everyday - we commit ourselves with clarity and joy to the practice of love and justice for Earth and all living beings.

For 25 years at URI we have said, “We unite to heal and restore Earth.” In this urgent hour, I am inviting all of us to prevent, halt and reverse eco-destruction and the loss of nature.  I’m asking us to do this with the projects that are right for the ecosystems where we live and through actions that bring greater to vitality to all beings who call that place “home.”


Thank you.