10 Takeaways From ecoAmerica’s 2016 American Climate Leadership Summit

By path2positive

America is at a crossroads in forging climate solutions. The rise of evidence through impacts, our push toward renewable energies, and multi-national agreements have propelled the fight for climate to new heights. Coalesced leadership across sectors is proof that the issue of climate change transcends boundaries, both in its impact and the solutions we create to address it.

ecoAmerica’s 2016 American Climate leadership Summit was a true testament to this reality as 250+ leaders gathered at The Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University on September 14th. Leaders of faith, business, health, higher education, communities, government, philanthropy, and climate shared communications strategies and engagement methods that can engross the broad array of Americans on the moral issue of climate change.

Faith speakers included:

Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Director, AME Social Action Commission, The African Methodist Episcopal Church

Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners

Rabbi Steve Gutow, Chair, Board of Directors, National Religious Partnership for the Environment

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Brian McLaren, Author and Pastor

See the full list of speakers here

The following day, Blessed Tomorrow hosted a breakout session with over 50 prominent faith leaders to discuss how they may engage their congregations and to amplify the sector’s impact in communicating with American society. The discussion was facilitated by a distinguished panel of Blessed Tomorrow Leadership Circle members and here are some key topics from their discussion.

Engaging people of faith

  1. Connect climate to core faith values
  2. Employ hope, inspiration, and stories
  3. Transform our congregations and families
  4. Become climate literate
  5. Reintroduce a love of creation

Engage society

  1. Connect climate to America’s issues today
  2. Make climate personal with stories and inspiration
  3. Make climate a moral responsibility
  4. Organize for collective impact(s)
  5. Translate spiritual urgency into political power

Segmented into two categories, engaging people of faith and how faith may engage society demonstrates a broader pattern in the way we think about faith and climate. Follow through is key to finding effective solutions in climate communications that not only engage our respective congregations but all communities. Climate change is a moral issue that affects politics, business, higher education and many other sectors. The American Climate leadership Summit is one example of how faith leaders are working with other sectors to advance the fight for climate.

People of all faiths and people of no faith, alike, often find that their interests are shared when it comes to protecting their families, communities and the natural world on which we all depend. Harnessing these shared values is the key to effective climate communications.

As we approach 2017, and the broader concern for climate begins to rise, imagine how your congregation may better serve not only people of faith but the diverse body of Americans. You’d be surprised how effective strong leadership may be.

Connect with Blessed Tomorrow on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date on our forthcoming report that will discuss these key takeaways in depth, providing you with the latest and greatest tools for engagement.

Ryan Smith is a writer at Blessed Tomorrow. He received his master's degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis on faith and climate change from the University of California, Riverside. 


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