15. May 2024

CreAction conference and study days: Interfaith approaches to climate justice

Eine Hand hält die Welt und Blätter.

Do religions enable new approaches to environmental issues? Do they harbour a power that motivates every individual to take action for the climate? What role do religious communities play in the socio-ecological transformation? These and other questions were addressed by the participants of the interreligious study days and the ‘CreAction’ conference from 3-5 May at the conference centre of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart in Hohenheim.

Study Days

Interreligious reflections on climate justice

The study days centred on introductory seminars on the topic of climate justice from the perspective of Islamic, Christian and Jewish theology. Students from different religious backgrounds and theological disciplines, e.g. linguistics, cultural studies and education, took part. The seminar was led by Junior Professor in Dr Yemima Hadad (Judaistik, Theologische Fakultät Leipzig), Dr Dennis Halft OP (Lehrstuhl für Abrahamitische Religionen, Theologische Fakultät Trier) und Jun.-Prof in Dr. Asmaa El Maaroufi (Zentrum für islamische Theologie, Universität Münster). The dialogue on the role of religions in the sustainability discourse and the thematic interfaces between the traditions stimulated many discussions and provided a space for interreligious reflection.

Drei Studierende und ein Dozent stehen im Halbkreis vor einem Flipchart. Im Hintergrund sitzen Studierende auf Stühlen.
Junge Menschen sitzen in einem Seminarraum auf Stühlen und diskutieren miteinander.

Ecological Responsibility

Recognising the positive and negative effects of religions

While from an Islamic and Jewish perspective the emphasis is on creation as a good entrusted to mankind by God, from a Christian perspective the principle of love for one’s neighbour is pointed out as a motivating force for action for the environment. It has been established that the Abrahamic religions have an ambivalent view of humanity in relation to the environment. Even though the holy scriptures indicate a dominance of humans over nature and fellow creatures, certain verses (Genesis 2:15; Koran 30:41) also identify humans as protectors of nature. It is important to recognise the positive impact of religions and at the same time critically consider their negative impact on the environment, such as through historical-religious expansion and industrial exploitation.

Religious practice

Interreligious encounter learning

In addition to the subject-specific suggestions, there was plenty of room for the students to engage in personal, interreligious encounters and interdisciplinary dialogue. They introduced each other to their own religious practices, such as the Islamic Friday prayer, the Jewish Shabbat celebration and the Christian Liturgy of the Hours. This also gave them practical insights into the different religious traditions.

CreAction Studientage Gruppenbild 03 05 24_c_Akademie Dioezese Rottenburg Stuttgart
Vier Frauen sitzen an einem Tisch. Eine Frau spricht in ein Mikrofon, die anderen Frauen hören ihr zu.

Religions and climate activism

What added value do religions offer?

The public conference on Saturday afternoon placed the impulses from the theological seminars more strongly in the context of the topic of ‘climate activism’. The speakers Prof Dr Elisabeth Naurath (University of Augsburg and Religions for Peace Deutschland e.V.), Yasemin Amber (Islamic Philosophy, University of Münster) and Dr Julia Blanc (Theological Ethics, University of Passau) shed light on the commitment of Christian and Islamic initiatives. The panel discussion centred on the central question of what added value religions and religious actors bring to the sustainability discourse. The added value of religions is particularly evident in the fact that faith has a very strong influence on moral concepts and can motivate changes in behaviour. Religions can create emotional access beyond rational approaches and have an impact on environmental awareness with different narratives, but the topic must also be incorporated more strongly into religious education.
During the subsequent ‘Gallery Walk’, religious initiatives such as Greenfaith Deutschland e.V., Green Shabbat and Christians for Future introduced themselves: Participants had the opportunity to talk to the practitioners in person and network.

Dimensions of (in)justice

Plea for self-reflection

On Sunday, participants were invited to take part in themed workshops such as ‘Ecological spirituality in Islam’, ‘Fields of action for religious climate initiatives’ and ‘Bible didactics in environmental education’. Dr Boniface Mabanza Bambu (advisor to the Kirchliche Arbeitsstelle Südliches Afrika KASA) addressed the effects of climate change on the Global South in the workshop ‘Global Klima (in)justice’. He not only addressed climate damage, but also criticised the endless human rights violations committed by mass corporations in the textile and mining industries, among others. The link between economic growth in the global North and environmental damage in the global South highlighted dimensions of (in)justice that were frequently discussed during the conference. In his concluding lecture, Prof Dr Claus-Dieter Osthövener (Systematic Theology and History of Theology, Philipps University Marburg) emphasised Christianity’s involvement in colonial pasts and pleaded for self-reflection and reflection on religious principles of justice.


  • Yasemin Amber M.A., Research assistant in the Department of Islamic Philosophy specialising in Islamic Ethics, University of Münster
  • Nimrod Baratz M.A., Research assistant, Chair of Jewish Studies, Faculty of Theology, University of Leipzig
  • Dr Julia Blanc, Chair of Theological Ethics, University of Passauu
  • Hatice Çakılkum M.A., Visiting researcher at the Department of Islamic Philosophy and Ethics at the Centre for Islamic Theology, University of Münster
  • Büşra Çebi M.A., Global Ethic Foundation
  • Ilyess El-Kortbi, Fridays For Future Ukraine
  • Prof Dr Julia Enxing, Professor of Systematic Theology, Institute of Catholic Theology, Dresden University of Technology
  • Wanja Kirchhoff, Research assistant at the Chair of Abrahamic Religions, focus on Islam and interreligious dialogue, Faculty of Theology Trier
  • Dr Boniface Mabanza Bambu, Consultant of the Church Centre for Southern Africa (KASA)
  • Prof Dr Elisabeth Naurath, University of Augsburg, Professorship of Protestant Theology, specialising in Religious Education, Religions for Peace Germany
  • Prof Dr Claus-Dieter Osthövener, Professor of Systematic Theology & History of Theology, Institute for Protestant Theology, Phillipps University Marburg

Conference management:

  • Dr Theresa Beilschmidt, Interfaith and Society Division, Global Ethic Foundation
  • Prof Dr Asmaa El Maaroufi, Centre for Islamic Theology, University of Münster
  • Prof Dr Yemima Hadad, Institute for Jewish Studies, University of Leipzig
  • Dr Dennis Halft OP, Faculty of Theology Trier
  • Dr Christian Ströbele, Department of Interreligious Dialogue, Academy of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart

The conference is a cooperation between the Global Ethic Foundation, the Academy of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, the Faculty of Theology in Trier, the University of Leipzig and the Centre for Islamic Theology at the University of Münster.

Ein Mann steht an einem Rednerpult mit einem Laptop und mit Mikrofonen. Er wendet sich nach rechts, die Hände sind zu einer erklärenden Geste erhoben.

Contact person


Dr. Theresa Beilschmidt

Interfaith and society
Tel.: +49 (0)7071 400 53 - 13
e-mail: beilschmidt@weltethos.org