On the morning of 12th March 2019, at the sidelines of the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA4), the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) and Brahma Kumaris co-hosted an event titled, Lifestyle Changes based on Values and Ethics – The Role of Faith in promoting Sustainable Consumption and Innovative Technology.
This side event was held at the Faith for Earth tent, the venue dedicated for Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) participating in UNEA 4. Faith for Earth is an initiative of the UN Environment’s Policy and Programme Division. It is meant for strategic engagement with FBOs.
The side event was moderated by David Munene, CYNESA’s Programs Manager. The session’s panelists were drawn from different faiths. Ms. Inger Andersen, the UN Environment Executive Director-designate visited the #Faith4Earth tent at the start of the event. She said that the earth needs collaboration with FBOs since only good could come out when faiths get together.
Rev. Canon Dr. Rachel Mash, Environment coordinator of the Green Anglicans also spoke of the potential of faith communities in caring for the environment. She made reference to the Bible and its teachings on care for creation. Water, for example, is mentioned 722 times in the Bible! She emphasized the need for young people’s involvement and leadership in ecological matters.
Mr. Yusuf Ahmed, the East Africa Regional Director for Islamic Relief Worldwide demonstrated the devastating effects of climate change that his organization deals with in their work in Kenya and Somalia. They engage faith leaders for greater impact in raising awareness and policy action.
Mr. Allen Ottaro, the Founder and Executive Director of CYNESA spoke of the youth as protagonists of environmental sustainability. He described youthfulness as a gift for all humanity and not property. Young people have a voice and they are learning to use it. He reiterated the words of the Holy Father Francis during his address to young people attending the World Youth Day in Panama that the youth “…are the now of God…”
Through a video recording, Golo Pilz, energy advisor to Brahma Kumaris said there is need for human beings to change from the inside to be able to change outside. He encouraged meditation as powerful tool to enhance values such as respect for life and nature and a positive outlook. He described Brahma Kumaris’ vast “India One” solar energy project as an example of innovative green technology.
Sonja Ohlsson, also of Brahma Kumaris, reiterated the need to make lifestyle life-long changes and break our harmful habits. She taught these values for environmental policy and action: simplicity, compassion, consideration, economy living, learning continuously and sharing.
Dr. Iyad Abumoghli, the Principal Advisor on strategic engagement with faith-based organizations to the UN Environment, demonstrated the urgent need to accelerate action and create proper policies based on the environmental extremes witnessed in recent years. He spoke of the need for innovation that goes beyond technology to policy, financing sustainable development, capacity building and other social innovation.
Hellen Mugo, spoke about the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) to demonstrate how partnership among FBOs and other organizations is imperative for attainment of the SDGs. PaRD members work jointly on Knowledge exchange, Capacity building and Joint advocacy.
Written by: Hellen Mugo