Philippine Head Delegate at COP Begins Hunger Strike to Protest Climate Inaction

Watch the video here

NADEREV "YEB" SAÑO: Mr. President, it was barely 11 months ago in Doha when my delegation made an appeal, an appeal to the world to open our eyes to the stark realities that we face, as then we confronted a catastrophic storm that resulted in the costliest disaster in Philippine history. Less than a year hence, we cannot imagine that a disaster much bigger would come. With an apparent cruel twist of fate, my country is being tested by this hellstorm called Supertyphoon Haiyan. It was so strong that if there was a Category 6, it would have fallen squarely in that box. And up to this hour, Mr. President, we remain uncertain as to the full extent of the damage and devastation, as information trickles in agonizingly slow manner because power lines and communication lines have been cut off and may take a while before they are restored.

The initial assessment showed that Haiyan left a wake of massive destruction that is unprecedented, unthinkable and horrific. According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Haiyan was estimated to have attained sustained winds of 315 kilometers per hour—that's equivalent to 195 miles per hour—and gusts up to 370 kilometers per hour, making it the strongest typhoon in modern recorded history. And despite the massive efforts that my country had exerted in preparing for the onset of this storm, it was just a force too powerful. And even as a nation familiar with storms, Haiyan was nothing we have ever experienced before.

Mr. President, the picture in the aftermath is ever slowly coming into clearer focus. The devastation is colossal. And as if this is not enough, another storm is brewing again in the warm waters of the western Pacific. I shudder at the thought of another typhoon hitting the same places where people have not yet even managed to begin standing up.

To anyone outside who continues to deny and ignore the reality that is climate change, I dare them—I dare them to get off their ivory towers and away from the comfort of their armchairs. I dare them to go to the islands of the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes, to see communities confronting glacial floods; to the Arctic, where communities grapple with the fast-dwindling sea ice sheets; the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, the Nile, where lives and livelihoods are drowned; to the hills of Central America, that confront similar monstrous hurricanes; to the vast savannas of Africa, where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce—not to forget the monstrous storms in the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard of North America, as well as the fires that have raged Down Under. And if that is not enough, they may want to see what has happened to the Philippines now.

Mr. President, I need not elaborate on the science, as Dr. Pachauri has done that already for us. But it tells us simply that climate change will mean increased potential for more intense tropical storms. And this will have profound implications on many of our communities, especially those who struggle against the twin challenges of the development crisis and the climate crisis. And typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to delay climate action. Warsaw must deliver on enhancing ambition and should muster the political will to address climate change and build that important bridge towards Peru and Paris. It might be said that it must be poetic justice that the Typhoon Haiyan was so big that its diameter spanned the distance between Warsaw and Paris.

Mr. President, in Doha we asked: "If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?" But here in Warsaw, we may very well ask these same forthright questions. What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness. Mr. President, we can stop this madness right here in Warsaw. We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to raise ambition and take action. We need an emergency climate pathway.

Mr. President, I speak for my delegation, but I—I speak—speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves after perishing from the storm. I speak also for those who have been orphaned by the storm. I speak for those of—the people now racing against time to save survivors and alleviate the suffering of the people affected. We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where supertyphoons become a way of life, because we refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where supertyphoons like Haiyan become a way of life. We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, counting our dead become a way of life. We simply refuse to.

Now, Mr. President, if you will allow me, I wish to speak on a more personal note. Supertyphoon Haiyan, perhaps unknown to many here, made landfall in my own family's hometown. And the devastation is staggering. I struggle to find words even for the images that we see on the news coverage. And I struggle to find words to describe how I feel about the losses. Up to this hour, I agonize, waiting for word to the fate of my very own relatives. What gives me renewed strength and great relief is that my own brother has communicated to us, and he had survived the onslaught. In the last two days, he has been gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands. He is very hungry and weary, as food supplies find it difficult to arrive in that hardest-hit area.

Mr. President, these last two days, there are moments when I feel that I should rally behind climate advocates who peacefully confront those historically responsible for the current state of our climate, these selfless people who fight coal, expose themselves to freezing temperatures or block oil pipelines. In fact, we are seeing increasing frustration, and thus more increased civil disobedience. The next two weeks, these people and many around the world who serve as our conscience will again remind us of this enormous responsibility. To the youth here who constantly remind us that their future is in peril, to the climate heroes who risk their life, reputation and personal liberties to stop drilling in polar regions and to those communities standing up to unsustainable and climate-disrupting sources of energy, we stand with them. We cannot solve problems at the same level of awareness that created them, as Dr. Pachauri alluded to Einstein earlier. We cannot solve climate change when we seek to spew more emissions.

Mr. President—and I express this with all sincerity, in solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, with all due respect, Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP, until a meaningful outcome is in sight; until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund—we cannot afford a fourth COP with an empty GCF; until the promise of the operationalization of a loss-and-damage mechanism has been fulfilled; until there is assurance on finance for adaptation; until we see real ambition on climate action in accordance with the principles we have so upheld.

Mr. President, this process under the UNFCCC has been called many, many names. It has been called a farce. It has been called an annual carbon-intensive gathering of useless frequent flyers. It has been called many names. And this hurts. But we can prove them wrong. The UNFCCC can also be called the project to save the planet. It has also been called "saving tomorrow today" a couple of years ago. And today, we say, "I care."

We can fix this. We can stop this madness, right now, right here, in the middle of this football field, and stop moving the goalposts. Mr. President, Your Excellency, Honorable Minister, my delegation calls on you, most respectfully, to lead us and let Poland and Warsaw be remembered forever as the place where we truly cared to stop this madness. If this is our imperative here in Warsaw, you can rely on my delegation. Now can humanity rise to this occasion? Mr. President, I still believe we can. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you.

Spirit of the UN: Week of Spirituality 2013


Spirit of the UN: Week of Spirituality 2013

USUN PRESS RELEASE #177 - October 11, 2013

Image of Malala

Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Introducing Malala Yousafzai for CNN's "The Bravest Girl in the World," October 10, 2013

Thank you and greetings to all of you.

A year ago this week, in Pakistan's SWAT valley, a masked gunman boarded a school bus. Waving his firearm at the students, he demanded to know; "Which one is Malala? Which one is Malala? Tell me or I will shoot you all."

When a bus full of frightened eyes revealed the truth; the gunman approached 15 year old Malala Yousafziand – at point blank range -- shot her twice, with bullets piercing her head and neck.

For days young Malala was unconscious; part of her skull was removed to relieve the swelling; amid the pain and dreams, she became uncertain whether she was alive or dead; but in Malala's own words, quote: "I think death didn't want to kill me. And God was with me…and the people prayed." End quote.

Here in the United States, we've had more than our share of experiences with gun-related violence, including attacks on school children; often we characterize such tragedies as senseless, caused by inner demons, a personal grievance, a petty theft.

But Malala Yousafzai was shot for a reason. And that reason was fear – fear of knowledge, fear of freedom, fear of truth, and fear of change.

Years before that terrible day, this young woman had already become her country's leading champion of the right of girls to attend school; when the Pakistani Taliban tried to deny that right – she fought back with the only tools she had – her voice, a blog, and defiance of the repeated death threats made against her.

Read the entire article here

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Secretary-General's Message - 21 September 2013

The International Day of Peace is a time for reflection – a day when we reiterate our belief in non-violence and call for a global ceasefire. We ask people everywhere to observe a minute of silence, at noon local time, to honour those killed in conflict and the survivors who live with daily trauma and pain.

This year we are highlighting Education for Peace. Education is vital for fostering global citizenship and building peaceful societies.

In June, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl targeted for assassination by the Taliban for campaigning for the right to education, came to the United Nations. Malala said: "One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world." These are our most powerful weapons.

That is why, last year, I launched the Global Education First Initiative. Every girl and every boy deserves to receive a quality education and learn the values that will help them to see themselves as part of a global community.

Governments and development partners are working to get every child in school and learning well to equip them for life in the 21st century. There is new momentum in countries with the greatest needs, such as those affected by conflict, which are home to half of all children lacking education. But we must do more – much more. Fifty-seven million children are still denied an education. Millions more need better schooling.

Educating the poorest and most marginalized children will require bold political leadership and increased financial commitment. Yet aid for education has dropped for the first time in a decade. We must reverse this decline, forge new partnerships, and bring much greater attention to the quality of education.

On this International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect. Let us invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world that embraces diversity. Let us fight for peace and defend it with all our might.


The American Ethical Union Celebrates the Supreme Court's Decision to Protect Same-Sex Couples

The American Ethical Union (AEU) celebrates with justice loving people across the country. The U. S. Supreme Court's decision that the federal government cannot discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections is an ethical decision bringing us closer to full marriage equality. We look forward to the day when every loving couple can publicly and legally declare their commitment to one another.

The AEU has long supported the right of same sex couples to marry and hopes the decision today moves the country closer to universal acceptance of this right. We continue to work for social justice for all.

The AEU also congratulates the thousands of couples in the State of California whose marriages are deemed legal with the Supreme Court's refusal to decide on California's Proposition 8, and looks forward to the resumption of same sex marriages in that state.

Executive Director, Bart Worden, noted, "This is a great day for marriage equality. And, though we realize there is much to be done, our hopes have been buoyed by the court's decision which has also increased our confidence that we will soon see nationwide legalization of same sex marriage!"

NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns-NY

CSVGC-NY April General Meeting
25 April, 12:30-2:30PM
at UN Foundation 801 Second Avenue,
9th Flr. Arthur Ross Conference

CSVGC-NY Business & The Ethical Foundation
for Sustainable Action
Guest Speaker: Rev. Dr. Kurt Johnson


According to the influential book The Coming Interspiritual Age (Kurt Johnson and David Robert interspiritual movements are the natural response of our world's religions to the ongoing globalization and multiculturalism. The question is "what will globalization and multiculturalism will the world's religions be an asset, or a liability, in this inevitable process"?

Every aspect of international life (governance, economics, religion, science, etc.) is reacting globalization. Do the high moral and ethical values inherent in the spirituality of all the world's potential pivotal role in this process? If so, how do the world's religions emphasize this aspect and not those that could add further to global competition and conflict?

Resources: over forty global leaders weigh in on this question at magazine discussing the book The Coming Interspiritual Age.

CSVGC-NY 2013 Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, magazine discussing the book The Coming Interspiritual Age. CSVGC-NY 2013 Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, "Spirit of the UN" - Ten Years Perspective: Sustainable Spirituality at the United October and Award Ceremony, Monday, 21 October at the UN Church Center, 2nd Flr.

Over 1000 civil society participants participated in the World Interfaith Harmony Event sponsored by the World Peace Prayer Society. This event was convened by the President of the General Assembly Mr Vuk Jeremic to honor World Interfaith Harmony Week and was inaugurated by Jordan. Under Secretary-­‐General Jan Eliassan represented Secretary-­‐General Ban ki Moon. Eleven major religious traditions delivered 30 second affirmations of belief and commitment to inter-­‐ religious peace from their own faith perspectives. They were Indigenous, Baha'I, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Jain, Jew, Muslim, Sikh and Zororastrian. Ethical Culture through National Ethical Service represented the Humanist Affirmation. Lucy Schmitz, NES Youth representative delivered the address from the podium. Lucy, member of Ethical Society of Essex County is a Youth Intern with National Ethical Service.

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We believe in the promise of humanity to reach a new age, where all together seek the way of the common good.

We affirm the absolute worth of each person no matter one's circumstance or station; no matter one's race, orientation, or creed; no matter one's abilities or needs.

We affirm each person's obligation to express this intrinsic worth through intentions and actions that foster global harmony.

We believe that it is our human duty to build civilization into a culture of peace, united and diverse, yet one.

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Image of text: Council for a Parliament for the World's Religions

Book Announcement:
The Coming Interspiritual Age

Image of Book cover:  The Coming Interspiritual Age by Kurt Johnson

Advancing the work of former CPWR Board Member, Bro. Wayne Teasdale, The Coming Interspiritual Age, by Dr. Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord [released January 8]

Explores themes of oneness, unity, and diversity on a world-wide scale. Forecasting a global shift toward spiritual consciousness, the authors unwrap an evolving makeup of religious communities to showcase how new forms of personal identity and scientific contexts in religion are creating a collective interspirituality.

Endorsing figures comprise Ken Wilber, Pir Zia Inayat Khan, Matthew Fox, Richard Rohr, Paul F. Knitter, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Andrew Harvey Ashok Gangadean, Yasuhiko Kimura, Charles Gibbs, Nancy Roof, Aster Patel, and more than forty more.

This title is currently placing among Amazon's top ten new releases of religious publications and will be available shortly for orders outside the United States.

In the Aftermath of Storm Sandy...

In the aftermath of Storm Sandy, Sylvain Ehrenfeld co-author of articles "From the UN" discusses Climate Change. Go to From the UN, lead story.

United Nations High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace.

Logo for International Peace Day 2012


United Nations High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace. 14 September 2012 from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm at the UN General Assembly Hall, UN Headquarters, New York This day-long, first-ever General Assembly High Level Forum was a public opportunity for the UN member states, UN system entities, civil society including NGOs, media, private sector and all others interested in discussing on the ways and means to promote the Culture of Peace. The implementation of the UN Programme of Action on Culture of Peace adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1999 was a special focus. Convened by President of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the Forum had an opening ceremony, when the President and Secretary-General spoke.

Two panel discussions followed. The day ended with a closing session. To view the webcast: