The Faiths for Forests campaign was launched on 22 September as a contribution to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, kicking off a global faith-based movement of mobilization, education and advocacy around halting and reversing tropical deforestation.
The announcement was made by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen and Sonia Guajajara, Executive Coordinator of Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil).
Faiths for Forests is a global call to action to all faith-based organizations, networks and places of worship around the world to join the movement to end destruction of the planet’s rainforests and to advocate for climate justice. It aims to unite people of all faiths to end tropical deforestation.
The campaign also advocates for the rights of indigenous peoples and forest communities that are on the front line of the fight to halt and reverse tropical deforestation. All organizations of faith and good conscience around the world are invited to join the movement.
Already endorsed by over 900 religious leaders from 125 countries and representing a constituency of over 1 billion people, the Faiths for Forests campaign is intended to add new and needed momentum to forest protection efforts worldwide.
In the last decade alone, an area of tropical forest the size of the United Kingdom, France and Germany combined has been lost forever. This destruction is unnecessary and is undermining efforts to address climate change, sustainable development and human rights.
“The Faiths for Forests campaign is a big deal— a declaration that needs to get out all around the world and a library of educational materials that have been developed specifically for religious leaders and faith communities on deforestation, climate change and the rights of indigenous peoples,” says Charles McNeill, UNEP’s coordinator of the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative.
In 2017, UNEP launched the Faith for Earth initiative, which has already built a network of around 1,500 faith-based organizations to harness the power of faith on behalf of the planet. The same year saw the establishment of the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, with its mission to bring moral urgency and faith-based leadership to end the destruction of our tropical forests.
“The power of faith-based organizations in protecting forests is still untapped,” says Iyad Abumoghli, principal coordinator of UNEP’s Faith for Earth initiative. “Religious institutions own 5 per cent of all commercial forests on earth, 22 per cent and 28 per cent in Sweden and Austria, respectively. Faith organizations can and must show leadership in protecting forests as a means to fulfilling religious obligations as environmental stewards.”
The UN Climate Action Summit takes place in New York City on 23 September 2019 to increase ambition and accelerate action on the global climate emergency and support the rapid implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The 2019 UN Climate Action Summit is hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
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