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The Reverend Rachel Mash addresses UNEA 6 Photo Credit: Photo by IISD/ENB

Anglicans speak at UN event on Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss and Pollution

Anglicans are represented at the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA 6) this week, which is meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. UNEA discusses the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. The United Nations Environment Assembly is the only forum in which the world’s countries discuss the environmental crisis as a whole.

The Anglican Communion is represented by the Revd Rachel Mash – Environmental Coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Nicholas Pande from the Anglican Alliance and the Revd Dennis Nthenge, Chaplain to Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

During the Assembly, the Revd Rachel Mash will be co-chairing the civil society response to a cluster of five resolutions dealing with the “Root causes of Climate Change, Biodiversity loss and Pollution”.

This cluster of resolutions deals with the circular economy – how we move away from excessive consumerism and throw-away mentalities to a sustainable economy that prioritizes what can be reused and recycled. There are also resolutions in the cluster on socially responsible mining, behaviour change and responding to the environmental impacts of conflict.

Civil society is well represented in a structure known as the “Major Groups and Stakeholders” which has representatives of almost 1,000 accredited organisations from a wide range of groups. Speaking at the UNEA6 Major Groups meeting ahead of discussions this week, Rachel represented voices from around the Anglican Communion on resolutions that will be discussed.

Including words from the Most Revd Don Tamihere, Pihopa o Aotearoa, leader of the Maori Anglican Church, she said:

“The climate crisis is the product of an inherited Western mindset, including globalization, capitalism and individualism, one that was nurtured by empire and colonialism. The response therefore needs to be underpinned by other ways of thinking and of being, especially that of indigenous ways in which the environment and humanity are interconnected as part of creation. Therein lies the path to true justice and peace for our planet. These resolutions give us a new way of being – from a throw-away economic system to a circular economy that recognises the value of the environment and our interconnectedness.”

Inspired by words from Archbishop Chris Harper, National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop and Presiding Elder of Sacred Circle in Canada, she said:

“Human behaviour shapes the environment, so we need a shift of consciousness. The throw-away economy is only possible because it is based on exploitation of the human rights of workers and abuse of the environment that does not consider the true costs of environmental and social externalities… We must rethink our relationship to the multiple interconnected components of the natural environment, and leave succeeding generations with a healthy, clean planet that can meet their needs.”

Anglican youth from Kenya’s Green Anglicans movement and the “Young Theologians for Climate Change” group are also taking part in this gathering. They will be guided by the Revd Dennis Nthenge who a key member of the Green Anglicans movement, a previous UNEA representative and a champion of the health and wellbeing of people who collect, sort and recycle waste – another key discussion topic at UNEA.

Agnes Lam from the Anglican Communion Youth Network(ACYN) joined online from Hong Kong.

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