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United Nations initiative highlights faith’s key role in environmental protection

United Nations initiative highlights faith’s key role in environmental protection

A mural on climate change is painted during one of the UN climate talks. Photo: Sean Hawkey/WCC

16 May 2019

* By Fredrick Nzwili

As centres of change and strong stakeholders in achieving sustainable development, places of worship must set the example in adopting green infrastructure and energy, a new report says.

People trust the messages and actions disseminated and undertaken by faith-based organizations, according to the report.

“Faith-based organizations can use houses of worship such as mosques, churches, synagogues, gurdwaras and temples as faith hubs and central spaces that mobilise environmental stewardship by encouraging particular behaviour,” it says. “While currently, such spaces are used to convey religious teachings, these teachings must address environmental issues related to individual practices and behaviours.”

Released this week, the report is based on a synthesis of speeches and presentations at the Faith for Earth dialogue, a side event at the recently concluded United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.

Leaders from world faith traditions joined - for the first time – on the sidelines of the assembly to discuss their role in environmental protection. They shared best practices and explored current challenges.

From the speakers, the leaders heard that human lifestyles based on consumerism were responsible for the current damage on the planet.

Representatives from the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches participated in 11-15 March dialogue.

With the current challenges, the report calls for including all stakeholders - especially indigenous communities, women and youth - in discussion and action within faith-based spaces on climate action.

“Youth are a major stakeholder that must be encompassed in the action against climate change,” says the report.

According the report, indigenous communities are another key stakeholder that must be incorporated.

“They (indigenous people) hold unique knowledge and perspective that can contribute towards innovative methods,” it says.

Indigenous people live in forests which have scientifically been acknowledged as vital in restoring the balance within our ecosystems, and also play a key role in the lives of indigenous populations across the world, the document notes.

* Fredrick Nzwili is an independent journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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