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PRESS RELEASE: Major ARC celebration planned for Nairobi this month to launch 26 African faith commitments in Nairobi, September 18-20

September 5, 2012:

Faith groups are planning major environmental education programmes in their schools, with practical activities such as tree planting and vegetable gardening for eco clubs

ARC will hold a major celebration in Nairobi, Kenya, later this month to launch 26 commitments on the environment by Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith groups (*** please see note below ***). It is, we believe, the biggest civil society movement on climate change the Continent has seen.

The Many Heavens, One Earth, Our Continent celebration will be held from 18-20 September, 2012 at the All Africa Conference of Churches’ Desmond Tutu Conference Centre.

It will be attended by senior representatives of 26 Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith groups from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe - which between them reach out to 183.86 million followers.

The plans, which have been developed over the past 18 months, outline the environmental actions the faith groups commit to taking over the next seven years and include each group’s faith mandate to protect the environment.

Practical action

The Church of Uganda's Bunyoro Kitara Diocese is setting up women-led tree nurseries through the Mothers' Union
In particular, the plans focus on practical action to:

  • * Plant millions of trees across Africa;
  • * Launch major awareness campaigns on the environment and global warming;
  • * Engage in extensive environmental education (more than half the schools in these countries are run by the faiths; they also have huge influence in community groups, women's groups and youth networks);
  • * Train their people in sustainable farming.

    “With 90 per cent of Africa’s population being either Christian or Muslim, the way to the heart of Africa is through faith. And faith is at the heart of these plans,” says ARC Secretary General Martin Palmer.

    “Faith groups all around Africa are rediscovering how the mandate to protect the richness of God’s Creation is clearly set out in their holy texts and this is leading to profound practical action – everything from restoring habitats and planting trees to reducing energy use and training young people in environmental care and protection.”

    Africa's biggest civil society movement on climate change

    Mr Palmer added: “In 2009, when 31 faith groups from around the world launched long-term plans on the environment at ARC’s Windsor Celebration, UN Assistant Secretary-General Olav Kjørven described it as ‘potentially the biggest civil society movement on climate change in history’ and ‘the biggest mobilisation of people and communities that we have ever seen on this issue’.

    ARC is working with the Kenyan Organisation of Environmental Education to develop a toolkit integrating faith values and caring for the environment for faith-run primary schools
    “With these inspiring and carefully developed plans, African faith groups are also responding to the challenge facing our planet. We believe they constitute the biggest – and potentially the most important – civil society movement on climate change yet seen in Africa."

    To read the press release in full, click here.

    *** We were expecting 26 faith plans at the time of this press release; in fact 27 were launched in Nairobi after a draft plan was completed in time. ***

    Successful Ugandan launches

    Some of the plans have already been successfully launched in their own countries at ceremonies attended by senior faith representatives and government officials.

    They include the launch of the plan developed by the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly Humanitarian Efforts (UMYA) and Relief Uganda (HEAR Uganda), which was attended by hundreds of people including members of parliament, religious and political leaders, and representatives of civil society groups, says Immam Kasozi of UMYA.

    Immam Kasozi (left) hands out tree and fruit seedlings to Muslim community members after a seminar on the environment in Hoima, Uganda
    "Guest of honour was the Shadow Minister of Water and Environment, Hon. Jon Ken Lukyamuzi who gave a most moving speech," he said.

    Hundreds of people also attended the launch of the plan drawn up by Hajjat Sebyala in consultation with the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) and the Uganda Muslim Women Association. Sheikh Rajab Hussein Kakooza, the Chief Imam and Director of Sharia, officiated at the launch at the National Mosque.

    Protecting wildlife

    The Nairobi celebration will also include the launch of faith pledges to protect wildlife in Africa, organised in partnership with WWF. In the past five years alone, rhino poaching has increased over 3,000 per cent while last year witnessed the highest recorded rates of elephant poaching in Africa.

    Illegal killing for trade is the biggest factor in the decline of these animals. While every faith has teachings about protecting creation, this will be the first time major faiths of Africa come together to pledge to protect wildlife species.

    More details

    Faith groups launching plans

    To read each plan, visit our country pages

  • Cameroon – Presbyterian Church in Cameroon;
  • Ethiopia – Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus – Development and Social Services Commission;
  • Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council; Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church – Development and Inter Church Aid Commission;
  • Ghana – Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana;
  • Kenya – Anglican Church of Kenya; Bhumi Africa; Catholic University of Eastern Africa – Centre for Social Justice and Ethics; Full Gospel Churches of Kenya; Kenya Episcopal Conference; Methodist Church in Kenya; Presbyterian Church of East Africa; Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM);
  • Nigeria - Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja; Qadiriyyah Movement in Nigeria; Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria;
  • Rwanda – Council of Protestant Churches in Rwanda;
  • South Africa – Anglican Church of Southern Africa;
  • Sudan – Sammaniya Sufi Order;
  • Tanzania – Bukoba Catholic Diocese; Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania; National Muslim Council of Tanzania;
  • Uganda – Bunyoro Kitara Diocese, Church of Uganda; Greening Initiatives (Uganda Muslim Supreme Council and Uganda Muslim Women Association); Green Top – Tree Planting Project (Humanitarian Efforts and Relief Uganda and Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly);
  • Zimbabwe – Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa; United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe.

    ARC has produced a book of summaries of all the plans called Many Heavens, One Earth, Our Continent. You can read it

    To find out more, visit ARC's Africa projects pages

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    Related pages

    African Faith Commitments
    Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith groups in sub-Saharan Africa have developed long-term faith commitments to protect the living planet. These range from planting millions of trees, engaging in environmental education programmes and mobilising their communities to manage land and water sustainably.
    Faiths for Green Africa
    We are working with more than 25 Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith partners in Africa.
    March 6, 2012:
    Nairobi ARC workshop on religion and environmental teaching
    More than 50 teachers and faith leaders from Christian and Muslim groups in sub-Saharan Africa are meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2012, to discuss how to integrate religious values into education on sustainable development in faith schools.