Interview with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Faith for Earth director, Iyad Abumoghli
What are the aims of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Faith for Earth initiative?
Faith for Earth has three main objectives. Firstly, we aim to strengthen partnerships with faith-based organization leaders to boost environmentally friendly policies. Secondly, we aim to promote green faith-based organizations’ investments, operations and assets. And thirdly, we aim to establish an accessible knowledge-based support system for faith-based organizations.
These objectives support, and seek to catalyse, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. We work with faith-based organizations at all levelsto strengthen interfaith partnerships in implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 17 (Partnerships for the goals) is particularly relevant for Faith for Earth.
Faith leaders are particularly well placed to communicate meaningful, pro-environment messages. The principle of environmental stewardship is a common thread among almost all religions, and we need to better exploit that fact.
What other Goals are relevant for Faith for Earth?
As you know, we are facing biodiversity and climate emergencies, so Goal 13 (Climate action) and Goal 15 (Life on land) are key areas of focus. Another important objective is getting faith-based organizations to divest from fossil fuels and promote green energy in line with Goal 7 (Affordable and clean energy). Goal 12 (Responsible consumption and production) is at the heart of our work. Religion often dictates what we eat, what we drink and our attitude towards natural resources.
What can faith organizations do that others can’t?
Faith-based organizations have unparalleled reach and mobilizing power because of the sheer number of their adherents in every corner of the world—even in remote areas where the fight against environmental degradation will be won or lost. They have enormous potential to influence policy and tip the scales on the massive global movement we all know is needed to address the planet’s environmental challenges. Faith-based organizations also have a comparative advantage in addressing the cultural dimension of sustainable development by tapping into people’s spiritual side and highlighting that faith and science can be mutually supportive when addressing environmental issues. Read more>>