Faith, Culture and Dialogue in the Global Village

(May 10, 2016)

To mark Earth Day 2016, I flew to Tehran, Iran, for the weekend.

On one level, this is as crazy as it sounds, but there were good reasons to make the trip.

It was the second International Seminar on Environment, Culture and Religion, hosted by the Islamic Republic of Iran and co-sponsored by UNESCO and the United Nations environment program (UNEP). It brought together about two dozen global representatives of different religions to meet with colleagues from Iran, for an inter-faith talk as part of the UN’s 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

I was there as a speaker, sponsored by UNEP, and I headed the final plenary panel on global partnerships.

The first such seminar was held in the spring of 2001, just before the world changed with 9/11. Since then, global tension and politics had made further progress difficult, at least until the election of a more moderate government in Iran and the nuclear agreement reached last July.

We were warmly welcomed, hospitably treated and met a host of Iranians working on environmental issues who were delighted to share opinions.

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