LAEA MEDLEY & KAMCILLA PILLAY
The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) has called on people of all faiths to fill the Kings Park stadium in Durban on November 27, a day before the UN Conference of the Parties is due to begin, for a concert and prayer meeting
The faith leaders gathered signed petitions yesterday demanding that world leaders commit themselves to the fight against climate change.
“Those collected will be sent to negotiators to show them the role that faith-based organisations play – this fight belongs to us all,” said Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe of the Anglican Diocese of KwaZulu-Natal.
To underscore their commitment to empowering people to respond to climate change, the faith leaders undertook to lead the development of an African-centred Climate Charter which would espouse the rights and aspirations of African communities towards a sustainable world.
SAFCEI, together with the South African Council of Churches and South Africa’s environmental agency, Indalo Yethu, held a multi-faith conference on climate change this week.
The concert and prayer meeting at the stadium will be hosted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “We want to get all faith groups to call on countries to come to an agreement on how to bring about a sustainable future,” said Bishop Geoff Davies of SAFCEI.
Davies said SAFCEI was aiming to mobilise faith communities to become involved in the UN climate change conference. “Climate change is a moral issue, and we must solve it with moral principles.”
He said that, as a host nation, South Africa must set an example. “We must challenge the world to do the right thing. We must put the health of people and the planet first,” he said.
Indalo Yethu chief executive June Josephs-Langa said South Africa needed to focus on empowering women and the youth, as they bore the brunt of environmental devastation.
Lisa Ramsay of the University of KwaZulu-Natal said the attitude of stewardship and caring for the Earth was refreshing. “Climate change is a major threat to sustainable growth and development in Africa… and although Africa is the continent least responsible for climate change, it is particularly vulnerable to the effects.”