Cleric predicts U.N. agency, faith groups will collaborate on environmental issues

The cleric's comments follow faith groups' interaction with the agency on June 7 and
8 during a preparatory meeting in Nairobi for the 17th Conference of Parties (COP-
17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in
Durban, South Africa in November.

“UNEP said to us … that they hoped they could work with faith communities
in the future, not only in preparation for COP-17, but for Rio+20 (the
United Nations conference on sustainable development to be held in Rio de
Janeiro) in 2012 where the U.N. Conventions on Biodiversity and
Desertification will be raised in addition to climate change,” Davies said.

UNEP, which coordinates the United Nations’ environmental activities,
assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound
practices, was founded in 1972.

Davies is executive director of the Southern African Faith Communities’
Environmental Institute (SAFCEI). Based in Cape Town, South
Africa, SAFCEI unites the faiths through a commitment to earth-keeping and
supports their fulfillment of environmental and socio-economic responsibility. Davies
said the organization is bridging divides among people of faith and environmentalists.

He said there was a need for a new direction in governance, a “new green
deal” (programs to restore natural systems) for economics, as well as a
focus on water, energy and provision of enough food for all.

“It is UNEP’s hope that the faith communities can actually provide
inspiration and direction in these processes, which are not succeeding at
present,” said Davies who initiated the faiths conference at UNEP, which
called for binding targets and a renewed moral vision in the climate change


Achim Steiner, UNEP’s executive director, told delegates that it is vital
that a spirit of cooperation prevails in climate talks. “In the climate negotiations,
the world’s people are being silenced by arguments, facts and figures that are
disempowering … You have immense power to bring back a sense of responsibility to
these negotiations,” he said.