المؤلف: Peter Houston
Category: البيئة, الوكالة على الموارد, الفقر والغنى
I remember when I went to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 how organised many religious groups were. Among the free resources being given away were books on Islam and Sustainable Development. Turn a corner at the convention centre and you bumped into someone from the Bahá’í faith handing out tracts. But where were the Christians? No doubt individual Christians were involved at different levels of the summit, but it was a lost opportunity for Christian engagement on environmental concerns.
Fast-forward to the Third Lausanne Congress that will happen soon in Cape Town. This conference will draw together Christian leaders from around the world to discuss Missio Dei – the Mission of God. One of the tracks is the Environment. Great, I thought, at last! While some very helpful online Conversations have been posted ahead of the conference to aid in-house discussion ((http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/home/environment), many of the responses from Christians show how far we have yet to go, with views that Environmentalism is pagan, irrelevant to the Church’s mission, an elitist power struggle, un-Christian, the prerogative of developed nations or simply a Western worldview.
I said as much at the recent General Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa when two motions concerning environmental care were being debated. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa, by passing the motions (one on the establishment of environmental networks at diocesan level, the other on engaging with the Climate Change COP-17 conference to be held in South Africa in 2011), is being groundbreaking in the Christian sphere. But, I pointed out, that it all amounts to hot air if we are unable to action these motions at a practical level.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is leading the way by repeatedly and prophetically speaking out on environmental concerns. But we, in our individual churches, need to approach our members who are in local government, on city councils, in positions of power, to ensure proper planning is being done in areas of disaster/risk management, water conservation and efficient use of resources (NB. Electricity – fossil fuels). We need to encourage members of our churches who are environmental scientists, and attending COP-17, by telling them we are praying for and value their work. Finally, we need to take the opportunity to add our voices to initiatives in civil society that seek to pressurise politicians to go beyond the short-term time horizons of self-interest, self-preservation and re-election.
For the sake of the poor and most vulnerable (the rich and powerful make a plan, as was evidenced in the Hurricane Katrina debacle), we need to use our various spheres of influence to ensure climate change and other environmental concerns are taken seriously.
The person who spoke next after me at synod on the climate change motion stole the show. She was from Namibia and said that where she is from there is sea, sand and more sand… that she knows absolutely nothing about what is being spoken about. But that she is SO excited. Something must be done!
So much for Environmentalism not being part of an African worldview – the proposers and all those who spoke on the motions were sons and daughters of the African soil!