South Africa group seeks Malawi faith climate change core areas

The South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) based at Kalk Bay in Cape Town has asked Malawian faith bodies to identify core climate change working areas with a view of helping to coordinate support opportunities and facilitate funding incentives.

Regional Coordinator for the Southern Africa, Ameen Benjamin, met faith leaders from faith groups over a period of three days.

During a meeting for multi-faith stakeholders, which followed meetings with each other faith bodies, Benjamin said since there are nine key environmental issues in Malawi, it was imperative that multi-faith groups decide on which areas they should exert their interests in complimenting government efforts, as faith community is charged with taking care of God’s earth.

“As stewards of the environment, we must identify which of the nine issues to start work in, so that we have impact on rebuilding the environment in Malawi, Africa and globally. We must work together as a faith community to engage and encourage our peoples to the commitment to cherishing living earth,” he said.

Ameen and Joda Mbewe

A survey conducted on behalf of government highlights the nine areas as soil erosion, deforestation, water resources degradation and depletion, threat to fish, threat to biodiversity, human habitat degradation, high population growth, air pollution, air pollution, and climate change.

Rev. Dr. Osborne Joda-Mbewe of the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) who hosted SAFCEI and presided over the event said as faith communities, it is important to use the wider and far reaching advantage it has to encourage people to engage in environmental care.

“We have a duty ordained by God to take care of God’s creation as is stated in Genesis. When God created everything He saw that it was well, and tasked humanity with taking care of all that He had created. This we must always do for our benefit and mostly the benefit of future generations,” he said.

Some issues that were raised in the meeting included threats to the eco-system around Lake Malawi that could result from possible oil exploration that government is pursuing, negative and time lasting effects from uranium mining at Kayerekera, and threats to the environment that could arise to human life, wildlife and vegetation should a Chinese company charged with introducing coal power goes ahead.

“All these issues require scientific evidence so that the faith community is empowered to advocate against their implementation for the benefit of the general environment,” said Gray Mwalabu of the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM).

The multi-faith stakeholders comprised of the MCC, EAM, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM), the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) and the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) settled for six of the nine key areas, namely soil erosion, deforestation, water resources degradation and depletion, high population growth, threat to fish, and climate change.

The meeting also explored the forth-coming planning conference towards the United Nations’ Framework on Climate Change Conference UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP18) as the world moves to COP19 which will make important decisions on enforcing climate change policies, particularly on engagement of rich high carbon emitting countries that contribute to greater climate change effects.

“We also want to ensure that the We Have Faith (WHF) platform that was created prior and worked through COP17 in Durban by faith leaders continues to engage policy makers at all levels towards a green economy for sustainable development and poverty reduction,” explained Benjamin.

As a voice of the voiceless, the multi-faith movement is bent at calling on communities of faith to rise up and take action to demand greater public investment; safeguard nature’s storehouse; pressure historic and current large greenhouse gas emitters, acknowledge, respect and celebrate the incalculable value of cultural and biological diversity; explore alternative and traditional faith based economic systems; promote alternative economic system based on solidarity economics; establish more just and participatory democracy; and promote culture and practice of zero waste.

SAFCEI works in five key areas of climate change, water, waste management, biodiversity and endangered species, and poverty and economy as factors to environmental challenges. Programme areas include climate change and energy focusing on advocacy and mobilisation; eco-congregations mainly at grassroots levels placing energies on clean-up, food and gardening, etc as an integral part of sermons; and youth parliamentarians in terms of capacity building as young people are vibrant earth-keepers.

SAFCEI works across Southern Africa.

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