September 07, 2012, 10:22 AM
Ambassador Hailu, URI’s Regional Director for Africa, joined with Ethiopian religious leaders at the June 7 celebration of World Environment Day in Addis Ababa to introduce the campaign for a “Green Rule”: “Do unto the Earth as you would have it do unto you.”
“Religious leaders and faith-based organizations in Africa need to work on the issue of environmental protection and climate change in mobilizing all believers in the continent for practical action in bringing about climate justice,” said Ambassador Hailu, who serves as chairman of the Interaith Peace-Building Initiative and represents URI at the African Union. “Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity has faced.”
Ambassador Hailu’s announcement came as more than 200 participants from the 50 member states of the United Nations Environment Programme – including the ambassadors of Algeria, Brazil, Cuba, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, Rwanda, Romania and Ukraine – took part in the World Environment Day celebrations at the African Union Conference Center in Ethiopia’s capital.
The event included an address by Joseph Atta-Mensah, director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Programme Management at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Mensah declared the need for everyone to play their part in keeping humankind’s ecological footprint within planetary boundaries.
The celebration came in conjunction with the release of the Global Environmental Outlook 5, a report on the state of the environment and current trends that may affect it. The report credits many African nations with working together to protect forests and establish a network of marine protected areas along the coast.
However, the report also notes that “climate change, by exerting extreme pressure on ecological systems, is likely to increase the stress of vulnerable populations in urban and rural areas in Africa.”
“The World Health Organization predicts that unmitigated climate change will lead to significant increases in illness and death brought on by environmental changes,” Ambassador Hailu said. “These include the spread of cholera, malaria, dengue and other diseases. [Climate change can also cause] floods, droughts, heat waves and more.”
“We all need to work together as a team and as citizens of this world in addressing the issue of climate change,” Ambassador Hailu said.