CLIMATE CHANGE IS A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE

Green Anglicans is a movement within the Anglican church that aims to advocate for climate action, educating members of the church about climate change. Climate change is a very Eurocentric concept and tends to be very difficult to explain in simple terms, it is important to get as many young people involved in the Green Anglicans movement. Having youth involvement will help raise awareness in the church and in their respective communities, which would result in more people engaging in climate action.

The Green Anglicans movement hosted a one day conference from the 17th to the 18th of November 2021 in Benoni, Gauteng. The conference was well attended with youth representatives from all Diocese in South Africa (all nine provinces). The conference began with ice breakers conducted by John-Paul Roberts, this allowed everyone to feel comfortable and welcomed.

A virtual presentation by Amnesty International highlighted how climate change is a human rights issue. Climate change violates the right to life, health, clean water and sanitation and housing. Global warming threatens our lifeline as it limits our access to water, which limits vegetation and animal life. This contributes to the rise of diseases and illnesses in our people. As a result of climate change, certain areas have been affected by floods and others by draughts resulting in people leaving their homelands to become climate refugees searching for better living conditions in foreign lands. A percentage of the people that have been severely affected by global warming and climate change suffer from anxiety and depression along with other diseases.

A talk by Litebogo from SAIIA (the South African Institute of International Affairs), motivated the young people in attendance to take action and advocate for climate action. Litebogo expressed the importance of educating people in rural areas. Holding government officials and the relevant authorities accountable is important in raising awareness.  

The attendees of the conference completed a few activities that were aimed at enhancing their knowledge and awareness of climate change. Attendees were tasked with organising a “protest” and delivering a mandate to the minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Samson Gwede Mantashe, demanding climate action. This highlighted the need to implement laws that regulate pollution, waste management and manufacturing to preserve the little that we have.

A second activity was to create “problem trees” based on issues contributing to global warming. We had to identify the root causes of the problem and the results (leaves and branches). The exercise allowed attendees to decipher the causes, the effects thereof and possible solutions to the problem.

Emphasis was also put on the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle) and adapting them into our daily lives.

Rev. Mash sharing an overview  of the themes in the Old and New Testament that showed how  God entrusted humans to care for creation. Then the attendees had to prepare short sermons on the topic, which was challenging and inspiring!

In closing, attendees were tasked with finding ways to educate members of their respective communities and having awareness projects advocating for climate action.

By Lindelwa Ncobo

Photo Credit : JP Roberts

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