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On December 9, the Spanish Chapter of the Club of Rome (CECoR) and SGI-Spain sponsored an interfaith symposium titled “Beliefs, Sustainability and Human Development” at the CaixaForum Madrid in Spain. The symposium brought together some 50 individuals from economic, legal and religious circles, including representatives from Buddhist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim communities.
Also in attendance was Dr. Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner, honorary president of the Club of Rome, who published a dialogue with SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in 2008, titled A Dialogue between East and West—Looking to a Human Revolution. This is the first event SGI-Spain has sponsored with CECoR.
The symposium featured a keynote lecture titled “Truths, Values and Beliefs: The challenges of sustainable development” by UNESCO Chair in Environmental Education Dr. María C. Novo Villaverde, as well as two roundtable discussions—one on religious pluralism and coexistence and another on the role faith communities can play in sustainable development.
In her keynote speech, Dr. Novo Villaverde, who is also a professor at the National Distance Education University (UNED) in Madrid, discussed sustainability from the scientific, ethical and religious perspectives, stressing that material wealth cannot alone be the deciding factor for true happiness. She warned that extreme consumerism is a major cause in the global escalation of environmental destruction and expressed high hopes for faith communities to help people lead more environmentally conscious lives.
The first roundtable session, led by José Manuel Morán, vice president of CECoR, focused on the topic of religious diversity and the coexistence of various faith communities in Spain. It included an introduction of the Spanish constitution on religious freedom and the various policies adopted to enable increased and accurate understanding of faith groups among the public.
The second session was themed “the commitment of religions to sustainability and human development.” It was moderated by Enrique Caputo Rivera, general director of SGI-Spain, and highlighted the contributions of religious communities in promoting education for sustainable development, both in terms of their social initiatives in this area as well as fostering spiritual values that lead to increased responsibility and commitment to the environment.
Speakers included Dr. Florencio Serrano Prior, president of the Federation of Buddhist Communities of Spain (FCBE), Abdelaziz Hammaoui, president of the Islamic Cultural Center of Valencia (CCIV), Jacobo Israel Garzón, historian and former president of the Federation of Jewish Community in Spain (FCIE), Alfredo Abad, pastor and secretary-general of the Spanish Evangelical Church (IEE), and Fernando Giménez Barriocanal, deputy secretary general of economic affairs of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE).
[Adapted from a report from SGI-Spain; photo courtesy of SGI-Spain]
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