Faith communities came together to celebrate the 45th World Environment Day (WED) on June 5th. There were thousands of faith-based environmental initiatives on WED. As explained in a WED article published by the UN Environment, faith based communities have a crucial role to play and they are involved with a wide range of actions that include everything from tree planting to youth forums. The article explains how faith communities are called to be good environmental stewards and points to excerpts from the sacred texts of 11 traditions (Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shintoism, Sikhism, and Taoism).
In a live broadcast from the UN Head Office in New York on June 6th the United Nations highlighted the “vital role of the church and faith communities in tackling climate
change”. Advocacy Officer and Head of New York Office for the Anglican Communion, Jillian Abballe, was one of six panelist who took part. She emphasized the crucial role of faith-based organizations, religious traditions and communities in “planting and
nurturing the seed of climate responsibility”.
Jillian said the most vulnerable are already experiencing catastrophic climate change-related disasters and she shared stories of how members of the Anglican Communion are having an impact through influence, earth stewardship and in modelling responsibility towards the environment. She also said the Anglican Communion is speaking out about the environment and how to understand the world through a holistic theology that reconciles the people, the planet
“The commitments we make as communities and global networks make a statement to the world and
re-shape our imagination of mission and how we respond to such crises,” Jillian said.
She highlighted the actions of South American bishops and emphasized the role of the Anglican Communion Environment Network in advocating for responsible environmental stewardship, supporting local initiatives, and educating Anglicans. She also provided examples of the Communion’s climate and environment initiatives in
both Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Jillian said the the Anglican Communion has begun to implement collaborative strategies across its provinces and working with the Environmental Network and the Anglican Alliance, it is bringing together development, relief and advocacy activities combined with capacity building and training.
Jillian pointed out that Anglican bishops are engaged in environmental justice work in their dioceses by focusing on issues like: Land use and deforestation; youth-oriented community organizing; reducing carbon footprints; recycling and organic gardening; water issues involving public use rather than privatized water; soil contamination from oil drilling; and education around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Responding to questions, Jillian said: “there is urgent action that needs to be taken that we possibly haven’t fully imagined. . . I hope in our faith traditions we can call up the spirituality to usher us into an era where we can have that imagination to create new solutions.”