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UPF Statement for UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)

The Universal Peace Federation applauds the United Nations, and all who gather for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to address some of the most critical problems facing humanity today, especially problems linked to unsustainable economic models. On the occasion of “Rio+20”, which takes place from 20 to 22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, UPF offers the following statement.

The Universal Peace Federation:

Notes that the problems posed by the need for sustainable development, environmental stewardship and social justice are issues that must involve not only the United Nations and governmental institutions but also the partnership of civil society, the private sector, faith-based organizations and the entire human community, ;

Recalls that as early as 1987 the Brundlandt Commission’s report identified the essential connection between the human world and the natural environment. However, the Commission did not address the problem of human selfishness and self-interest. We must recognize that the challenges of sustainable development, environmental stewardship, and social justice are but symptoms of a deeper human problem: we have not learned to live as one family, sharing this planet and caring for the natural world placed at our disposal by a loving Creator;

Acknowledges that the free market system is to be encouraged, while at the same time noting that there must be regulations that prevent serious harm to others and to the environment. Corporations should take the lead in promoting sustainable development, and the development of the green economy because this is in everyone's best interest;

Affirms that the family is the primary unit of society, the foundation of moral, spiritual, social and political education. Families may be great allies in the effort to achieve sustainable development. Indeed, the UPF vision of “One family under God” serves as a guiding ideal that reminds us that the exercise of freedom should not disregard the needs of others;

Recognizes the wisdom of the world's religions over millennia, which tell us in different ways that human beings have been given the blessing to inhabit this beautiful planet and to enjoy its resources. At the same time, we are here as stewards of this good earth, and we must use our freedom responsibly, giving due regard to the whole human family, including future generations. People of faith should rise above narrow sectarianism and join in making this earth, our common home, a place of health, beauty, and sustainability. Moreover every ethical person must be responsible to contribute to sustainable development in the conduct of his or her daily life;

Recommends that the United Nations give needed attention to the potential role of faith-based organizations in addressing problems of scarcity, resource distribution, and economic opportunity;

Requests that religious and spiritual believers take greater initiative to share their resources and wisdom and apply the teachings found in their sacred texts which pertain to human duties and responsibilities toward the natural world. Religious and spiritual believers can be effective agents and advocates for sustainable development at the grass-roots level. Moreover, by working harmoniously together in a spirit of interfaith cooperation, the voices of spiritual wisdom will be heard and respected the world over; and,

Reminds the United Nations, governments, the private sector, and civil society that people of faith constitute more than 80 percent of the global population who cherish the environment as a gift from a divine source and who see themselves as stewards of a legacy of compassion and unselfishness to pass on to generations yet to come, countering prevailing values of self-centeredness and over-indulgence. The family being the primary unit of society, grandparents and parents can be encouraged to transmit this consciousness along with moral, spiritual, and social education.