The Inter-Religious Climate and Ecology (ICE) Network seeks to actively engage religious leaders and institutions throughout Asia in climate education, collective action, and policy change. The long-term objective is to bring the wisdom of religious traditions and the moral influence of religious leaders and institutions into climate change dialog and action. The overall goal of the project is to address the root causes of climate change and respond to the emerging effects of climate change in a peaceful, equitable, and sustainable way. In this way, we seek to be engaged in these 4 areas:
1. Awareness and Education
A few religious leaders in the ICE Network have already begun to teach on the causes of climate change, the resulting suffering, and the responsibilities of religious practitioners, but most require additional technical information to be able to effectively communicate on this subject. To achieve this, we seek to develop a variety of curriculum and resource materials that integrate religious teachings and available information on climate change drivers, expected impacts, strategies for mitigation, adaptation and response, and current political debates. We also seek to translate and adapt these materials to local languages and cultural contexts. In this way, we seek to empower senior religious leaders and young ICE members to have capacity and resources to conduct awareness and climate education programs in their own areas.
2. Climate Action
Communities around the world are already beginning to feel the consequences of climate change, including flooding, drought, intensified storms, water scarcity, biodiversity loss, rising sea levels, food shortages, conflict over resources, and displacement. Religious leaders and institutions are well-positioned to model climate action and respond to local needs. This component of the project will catalyze religious leaders, institutions and communities towards collective action and supporting local initiatives for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and response, such as:
- “Carbon neutral” temples, churches and mosques
- Home gardening and food security programs
- Livelihood diversification
- Community resilience programs (e.g. disaster plans, savings systems)
- Disaster mitigation (e.g. reforestation, bunds, canals, rainwater harvesting)
- Emergency response to climate disaster
- Documenting indigenous knowledge and local change
- Ecovillage models
From these activities, case study reports will be developed to exchange experiences and best practices, promote learning, and catalyze new initiatives. The Climate Action Fund will be a central part of ICE to support these initiatives.
3. Local Networking and Advocacy
Religious leaders and organizations have the respect, access, and outreach to influence policy in a number of key Asian countries. As they become more actively engaged in the climate response, they can begin working together to influence local and national policies. This component of the project will strengthen local and national inter-religious networks to increase exchange, collaboration, and advocacy action. The ICE Network Secretariat will help strengthen at least 5 regional or national networks each year. Regional networks may be more effective in (1) large countries, (2) regions with shared environmental conditions and climate concerns, and (3) countries where security issues prevent travel between regions. In total, at least 15 networks will be strengthened during the project period. The ICE Network Secretariat will support the selected regional and national inter-religious networks to conduct a series of strategic planning workshops on topics such as: basic training on local policy and on culturally appropriate advocacy techniques, assessment of local challenges and opportunities, identification of key stakeholders, development of plans and targets, review and revision of plans and targets. Each year, the ICE Network Secretariat will also organize an international gathering for representatives from the 5 participating regional or national networks. At this event, they will have the opportunity to exchange experiences and learn more about strategies for inter-religious networking and climate change advocacy.
4. International Networking and Advocacy
The ICE Network still requires institutionalizing and building of the capacity of the Secretariat. The Secretariat will coordinate the development of a website for the ICE Network. The site will serve as an online platform that brings together news, ideas, resources, and climate change testimonies from all network members. The Secretariat will see that the platform is regularly updated with information from awareness and education programs, climate action initiatives, and local advocacy campaigns. Regional and national groups will be encouraged to start local language sites, and the Secretariat will provide links and translated summaries on the main ICE Network site whenever possible. Brochures, publications and reports will be shared online and printed for distribution among the network. The online media platform will help generate awareness and interest in climate issues and ICE Network activities. It will also facilitate and support the awareness, education, climate action, exchange, collaboration, and advocacy components of the project. The ICE Network Secretariat is responsible for coordination, monitoring and outreach, while visiting local networks and working groups and meet with other organizations and networks working on similar issues.
ICE Network members bring the voice and experience of Asian religious leaders, communities, and institutions to international climate change forums. Possible forums include the annual Conference of Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress. Before participating, the selected representatives will be trained on the current state of international environmental governance and the topics currently under debate. Further, ICE will continue to organize its own Network Conferences to provide an opportunity for representatives from all countries and religions to share their experiences, identify opportunities for collaboration, and plan for future action.