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African leaders pledge eco action

18 February, 2010:

Pledges were made by faiths all over Africa to protect nature

African faith leaders pledge to educate, act and speak on the environment: Abuja update

Muslim and Christian religious leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa met this month in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria to talk about the environment.

Hosted by the British Council in Nigeria, the faith leaders came together on February 8 and 9 to talk about environmental issues, including climate change, in a faith context. Their aim was to look at the role of religious law in the environmental justice debate and also to discuss how policy makers and faith leaders can co-operate. ARC was represented by Alison Hilliard.

During the meeting, the representatives for the Anglican Church of Tanzania, the Anglican Church, Hoima diocese in Uganda and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church all expressed interest in making long term environmental faith plans, similar to the 31 plans by nine faiths which were launched at the major ARC celebration at Windsor Castle in November, in advance of the Copenhagen COP. Link here for the full list.

The leaders attending the British Council’s conference – who came from Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya and Sudan as well as Nigeria – acknowledged the crucial role that faith leaders have in teaching their followers how to live and develop sustainably in a world of finite resources. They committed themselves to training their clergy and lay leaders in climate change issues, and specific commitments included dedicating at least one sermon every month to environmental degradation and also – and this is particularly key in sub-Saharan Africa - to share best practices for adapting to climate change.

In addition, they promised to work together and with their respective governments to hold developed countries to account for a reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases so that global warming does not exceed 2˚C as well as advocating for an Adaptation or Global Climate Fund.

Also at the meeting in Abuja, the BBC World Service Trust launched a new policy briefing on public understanding of climate change in Africa. Its "Africa Talks Climate" research gathered the views of more than 1,000 people from farmers to fishermen in 10 countries. The research noted that there is a trend for some African citizens to attribute weather changes to God, gods or faith and that the potential role of religious and faith leaders in informing and catalysing responses to climate change is substantial. Link here for the full country reports here

An interfaith declaration on climate change was signed by leaders including the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, the President of the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, the Islamic Council in Nigeria and a representative of the Sultan of Sokoto and the Chief Imam of Ghana.

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