Ecumenical Patriarch at Arctic Circle Assembly: ‘We have to change how we perceive and treat the world’

Ecumenical Patriarch Arctic Circle Conference

On Friday, at the invitation of Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former President of Iceland, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew delivered the keynote address to the Arctic Circle Assembly before a gathering of 2,000 participants from governments, corporations, universities and ecological institutions.

The Ecumenical Patriarch spoke on the importance and influence of religion on raising awareness on the ecological crisis of our time, underlining that spiritual leaders, scientists and politicians cannot avoid engaging in dialogue with one another on climate change.

In order to change what we see,” His All-Holiness declared, “we have to change how we see it. We have to change how we perceive and treat the world, how we use our knowledge and skills to sustain and enhance it.”

Earlier on Friday, the Ecumenical Patriarch was received for a private conversation at the Harpa conference and concert hall with the Bjarni Benediktsson, prime minister of Iceland. During the meeting, Patriarch Bartholomew presented several personal initiatives and projects of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that aim at the protection of the environment. The Patriarch also referred to different meetings with religious and political leaders from all across the world, and to the organization of international conferences that aim at raising public awareness regarding the ecological problem, the protection of the environment and the protection of creation.

His Holiness recalled the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, the distruction of the homes and churches in the region, pointing also to the danger of diminishing Christian presence in the area.

PM Benediktsson congratulated the Ecumenical Patriarchate for his care for the protection of the environment and referred to the potential of contemporary technology to help solve the environmental problem.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was accompanied by His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and all Scandinavia, and Archdeacon John Chryssavgis, adviser to the Ecumenical Patriarch on ecological issues.

The Ecumenical Patriarch arrived Thursday, October 12, in the capital of Iceland to participate in the Arctic Circle Conference, the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic, attended by more than 2000 participants from 50 countries.

The Assembly is held every October at the Harpa Conference Center and Concert Hall in Reykjavík, Iceland. It is attended by heads of states and governments, ministers, members of parliaments, officials, experts, scientists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, indigenous representatives, environmentalists, students, activists and others from the growing international community of partners and participants interested in the future of the Arctic.

Topics have included the following, among others:

  • Sea ice melt and extreme weather
  • The role and rights of indigenous peoples
  • Security in the Arctic
  • Investment structures in the Arctic
  • Regional development
  • Shipping and transportation infrastructure
  • Arctic energy
  • The role of European and Asian states in the Arctic
  • Asia and the Northern Sea Route
  • Circumpolar Health and Well Being
  • Science and traditional knowledge
  • Arctic tourism and aviation
  • Arctic ecosystems and marine science
  • Sustainable development
  • Small-scale renewable energy for remote communities
  • The prospects and risks of oil and gas drilling
  • Mineral resources
  • Business cooperation in the Arctic
  • The High Seas of the Arctic Ocean
  • Fisheries and living resources
  • Geology and glaciology
  • Polar law: treaties and agreements
  • The Arctic and the Himalayan Third Pole

Photograph: Arctic Circle


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