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June 14, 2015

Desmond Tutu & Trevor Manuel: Why tackling climate change is a moral and economic imperative

Nowadays, people are too often forced to choose between doing what is morally right and doing what is economically beneficial. Indeed, their options sometimes appear to be mutually exclusive, making the decision of which path to take exceedingly challenging. Sometimes, however, moral rectitude and economic interest merge, presenting an opportunity that must not be missed. That is the case – from the perspectives of this Archbishop and former finance minister – with the world’s response to climate change.

The moral imperative is indisputable, as the effects of climate change – including extreme weather, temperature changes, and rising sea levels – are felt most keenly by the global poor, who have also benefited the least from the economic activities that cause it. Moreover, climate change could accelerate poverty and inequality in the future, meaning that, unless we address it in a timely manner, it will diminish – or even eliminate – future generations’ chances to achieve their development goals. Making every effort to minimize climate change today is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

Fortunately, the economic benefits of addressing climate change are also clear. After all, climate change carries significant economic costs – for example, those associated with more frequent and extreme weather events. Moreover, building a “green” economy, based on continued technological innovation, is the smartest and most efficient way to create new engines of sustainable growth and job creation for the next generation.

Action at the individual, company, municipal, and national levels is crucial. But the fact is that climate change is a global problem – and thus requires a global solution. The most important tool the world has for doing the right thing – and reaping vast economic benefits – is a universal climate-change agreement. That is why world leaders must take the opportunity presented by the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December to develop a single global framework for action.

In fact, world leaders already pledged to do so. The UN Climate Change Conference in 2011 – initiated and hosted by South Africa – produced an agreement to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, no later than this year.

Important progress has been made since the Durban conference. Last month, more than 30 countries – including the European Union’s members, Gabon, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States – submitted their post-2020 plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In the coming weeks and months, this momentum will continue to build, as other countries – including, it is expected, major emerging economies like Brazil, China, and India – submit their commitments as well.

But if the Paris meeting is to be successful – in terms of both fulfilling the moral imperative and capturing the economic benefits of confronting climate change – every participating country must submit its national contributions for the period beginning in 2020 as soon as possible. Furthermore, the final agreement must include an effective and ambitious plan for de-carbonization over the next 50 years.

The fact is that short- and medium-term commitments alone are simply inadequate to fulfill the pledge, made by the world’s governments in 2009 and reiterated in 2010, to cap the rise in global temperatures at 2° Celsius relative to the pre-industrial era. It is crucial to create – and adhere to – a progressive long-term emissions-reduction strategy that sends a clear signal to capital markets that governments are serious about confronting climate change.

Such a strategy could include, for example, incentives for investment in low-carbon solutions. With some $90 trillion dollars set to be invested in infrastructure globally over the next 15 years, the impact of such an approach could be considerable – if not decisive.

The moral and economic imperatives to act on climate change could not be stronger. Although the road ahead will be difficult, with new and unexpected challenges arising along the way, we can find inspiration in Nelson Mandela’s famous dictum: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” We face an unprecedented opportunity to achieve a more sustainable, prosperous, and socially just future. Creating that future must start now.

Source: World Economic Forum

June 8, 2015

Desmond Tutu: “God Is Not A Christian. Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu…”

In interview originally published with Real Leaders, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and social rights activist Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says he is not threatened by the beliefs of others. He believes the world should become more aware of our shared humanity to avoid future conflicts.

You represent a very specific world view, Christianity, yet have managed to mediate between opposing belief systems and make people aware of their common humanity. How have you managed this?

It doesn’t matter where we worship or what we call God; there is only one, inter-dependent human family. We are born for goodness, to love – free of prejudice. All of us, without exception. There is greater commonality in our belief systems than we tend to credit, a golden thread expressed in the maxim that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. I don’t believe in the notion of “opposing belief systems.” It would be more accurate to say that human beings have a long history of rationalizing acts of inhumanity on the basis of their own interpretations of the will of God.

In your view, what does the world need more of in order to become more peaceful?

Our failure to recognize the humanity in others lays the foundations for selfishness rather than selflessness. It leads to gross inequity and hideous disparities in qualities of life – and, often, the degradation of environments in which relatively poor people live. A world that recognizes the equal worth and vulnerabilities of all its people will be a much more peaceful place.

Has the role of religion changed over the last 10 years?

Peoples’ interpretation of religion can change, but I don’t believe the role of religion is changeable. Religion does not just concern one’s personal relationship with God; it’s more about the manner in which we interact with others – about our broader responsibilities to the human family and the earth we share.

Figures suggest many young people are turning away from the church. Is it possible to be a good human being without being religious? 

Much as I’d love to see all the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues and temples overflowing with humanity, how good we are is not measured by the number of times we attend formal religious ceremonies. Among the most heartening trends I have noticed on my travels over the past dozen or so years has been the spiritual strength of young people. They don’t necessarily occupy the front pews on Sunday, but they seem to have been born with an enhanced sense of tolerance and a deep understanding of our inter-dependence, on each other and a functional world.

The phrase “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” has been used by various people and political groups across the world to justify their actions. How do you reconcile such opposing viewpoints in people who are all convinced they are fighting for freedom?

Many have argued that people committing acts of violence in pursuit of just objectives should be regarded as freedom fighters, not terrorists. Nelson Mandela is a leading recent example of this dual identity. He was undoubtedly a freedom fighter who, at a particular stage in the struggle against apartheid, concluded that non-violent means of struggle were failing to achieve democracy and convinced his organization to take up arms. Although the resistance army that he commanded initially targeted infrastructure, rather than people – and was ultimately of significantly greater symbolic than military value to the liberation cause – Mandela and his comrades were branded terrorists at home and abroad. I don’t believe there is ever a valid justification for violence, it only begets more violence. Where people are not free they should struggle for their freedom through non-violent means. In the 1970s and 1980s, with the help of our friends abroad, South Africans developed a non-violent toolbox of boycott, sanctions and divestment. Together with mass resistance – people swimming together in pursuit of a righteous cause are unstoppable – we brought the apartheid state to its knees.

Read the full interview

June 8, 2015

The Dalai Lama on Inner Peace, Inner Values and Mental States (VIDEO)

Nobel Peace laureate and spiritual guide to the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama, speaks on achieving Inner Peace for an audience at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009.

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His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people.

During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he denounced the Chinese Communist Party and established the nongovernmental Central Tibetan Administration. He has since traveled the world, advocating for the welfare of Tibetans, teaching Tibetan Buddhism, investigating the interface between Buddhism and science and talking about the importance of compassion as the source of a happy life.

The Dalai Lama has travelled to more than 67 countries spanning 6 continents. He has received over 150 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. He has also authored or co-authored more than 110 books.

In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.

Visit the Dalai Lama’s Official web site: www.DalaiLama.com

June 6, 2015

The Elders: What kind of world will our leaders leave for the young?

Four senior statesmen and women from The Elders organization have faced an audience of young people to answer questions on the big issues facing the world today.

The four elders taking part were Kofi Annan, chair of The Elders and the UN Secretary-General from 1997-2006, Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the USA, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and Hina Jilani, founder of Pakistan’s first all-women law firm and advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan since 1992.

The studio audience consisted of 15 students from around the world.

The debate was hosted by Matthew Amroliwala.

The Elders, founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007 are a group of the world’s elder statesmen who use their experience to advise on conflict, resolution and human rights.

June 4, 2015

Supermodel Alex Wek and Archbishop Tutu Play the Circle of Change Game

The Circle of Change Game was developed by the H&M Conscious Foundation. Alex Wek, Sudanese supermodel and ambassador for the H&M Conscious Foundation, joins Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the office of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town to play Circle of Change – see who knows more about Education, Clean Water, and Strengthening Women!

Part 1/3

Part 2/3

Part 3/3

Source: H&M Conscious Foundation

June 3, 2015

Does the U.S need a Truth and Reconciliation Process?

In the wake of the storm of police violence against black people raging across the United States, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Reverend Mpho Tutu, consider the question of whether a truth and reconciliation process is needed in America, and if it could help heal the still-bleeding wounds of racism.

Source: Yes! Magazine