Addis Ababa, June 5, 2021
Recognizing the paramount importance of the role of Faith-Based, Interfaith and Elders Organizations in Ecosystem Restoration, United Religions Initiative-Africa (URI – Africa), the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), the Baháʼí International Community (BIC) – Addis Ababa Office, Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia (IRCE, a URI member group), and the Elders Council of Ethiopia join the global community to celebrate World Environment Day (WED).
WED is celebrated annually on 5th June to create awareness and action for the protection of the environment. The theme for this year is “Ecosystems Restoration”.
Religious leaders, faith-based & interfaith organizations, and elders can provide a significant contribution in creating awareness on sound environmental management and climate change mitigation and addressing the safety of wildlife.
On this occasion, the five organizations express their appreciation and gratitude to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for its outstanding work in environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices since its establishment in 1972.
The organizations also want to express their commitment to the implementation of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and fully support the Faith for Earth Initiative of UNEP, which is set up to inspire and empower faith organizations and their leaders to advocate for the protection of the environment.
The organizations further appreciate the initiative taken by the government of Ethiopia in a campaign to plant six billion trees across the country this year as part of the “Green Legacy” project to promote eco-tourism and combat the effects of climate change. The organizations also highly appreciate the initiative of the Ethiopian government plans to send one billion seedlings to neighboring countries.
Restoration of the ecosystem is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, mainly those on climate change, poverty eradication, food security, water, and biodiversity conservation.
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a global effort aimed at restoring the planet and ensuring One Health for people and nature.
The organizers recognize that the decade unites the world behind a common goal in preventing, halting, and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
Drawing from our faiths and cultural traditions, we celebrate God’s creation of planet earth and remind ourselves of the role of humanity and our faith traditions in stewarding it.
We also acknowledge and salute on this day the immense work that faith communities are doing to restore ecosystems and halt environmental degradation – bandaging wounded Mother Earth.
These activities range from practical interventions in restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, to influencing power centres to raise ambition to keep temperature raises within limits to curb climate change. In this, we acknowledge the role faith communities are playing in responding to the distress caused by environmental degradation and climate change; undeterred, knowing that it is our calling, a spiritual, moral and ethical manifestation of our faith devotions – to be intentional in our tasks of caring for creation. We will continue to work towards bringing mutual understanding towards our responsibility to nature and to treat the gifts of Mother Earth and ecology with devotion and gratitude.
Today we reel under the impacts of climate change, which is threatening our very own lives, habitats, livelihoods, health, food and water systems, the air we breathe among others.
We cannot sit back and ignore these signs. Almost everything that we need for survival on this planet earth comes from Mother Earth. Taking care of ecosystems and biodiversity means securing our lives and our livelihoods, and that of many generations yet to come.
We are all interconnected. A challenge in one part of the globe affects the other parts of the globe too. COVID-19 has demonstrated this – but also climate change. We have come to pray together for “care of the environment”. We charge and remind ourselves of our responsibility to be catalysts to prevent, reverse and halt damage to the earth’s ecosystems. We create awareness on the steps we can take as faith communities in taking positive action steps to restore the earth’s ecosystems.
For the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 26), which will happen in Glasgow on 1-12 November 2021, we are calling for nothing less than a high ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stopping reliance on fossils fuels, but a shift to renewable energy. We also call for the implementation of Conventions, Treaties, and Protocols that relate to care and restoration of the environment.
May Peace Prevail on Earth.