UNEP Hosts Faith Groups’ Meeting on Climate Justice

9 June 2011: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) hosted an event organized by the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI), the All Africa Churches Conference (AACC) and the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) to discuss the position of faith groups on the environment and humanity, in particular climate change and its effects on Africa.

The two-day event, which took place in June 2011, in Nairobi, Kenya, gathered 130 Muslims, Christians, Hindus, African traditional leaders, Bahá'í and Buddhist communities from 30 countries across Africa. The meeting aimed to, inter alia: develop a common framework for African Ecumenical action on climate justice in Africa; mobilize faith-based organizations to understand and respond to climate justice and sustainable peace in Africa; strengthen faith leaders' competences in climate justice and sustainable peace; explore synergy with State and non-State actors in joint advocacy efforts on climate justice and sustainable peace in Africa;  and present to the climate change negotiators negotiators at the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, the essential moral principles required to reach a fair and just climate agreement.

Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, noted that, in Durban, African Faith Communities will have the authority and power to bring back to the climate negotiations a sense of responsibility. The faith leaders also called on world leaders to increase awareness of the causes and consequences of climate change, adaptation and mitigation mechanisms, as well as reflect climate change concerns in political decisions.

At the end of the meeting, participants prepared a declaration, including messages to Africa's political leaders to regain a united voice and "abandon expedient allegiances with blocs that are scrambling to appropriate Africa's natural resources" as well as to recognize in all policy statements that long-term social and economic interests require "the stability of our biophysical environment today." [UNEP Press Release]