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INTRODUCTION

A presentation by Rev. Dr. Charles Odira,

Environmental crisis is by now a real concern for everyone. Organizations; Governmental and non-governmental are very actively engaged in restoring environmental sanity. The great world religious leaders have added their voices describing the earth as `our common home`, `our house`:

  • Dalai Lama, a great Buddhist leader says, “If we think of the planet as ‘our house or as our mother’, we automatically feel concern for our environment”
  • Pope Francis, as if reading from the same script with Dalai Lama refers to the earth as “our common home” and “mother”. This calls for a common responsibility with an inclusive effort.

SOME ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS HIGHLIGHTED IN THE DOCUMENT

  • Pollution, waste and throw away culture
  • Insufficient/unclean water
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society
  • Global inequality
  • Weak responses
  • Different opinions

MAIN OBJECTIVE

  • To enter into dialogue with people about the Environment
  • To initiate an all inclusive conversation where everyone is involved (the document is addressed to `everyone`)
  • To promote dialogue between science and faith about environment
  • Add the missing religious voice to the effort on environmental concern
  • To highlight the interconnectedness between environment and other social justice
  • To promote Ecological conversion, change of attitude

IMPACT OF THE DOCUMENT

  • People from many parts of the world’s religions and wisdoms met in Paris on July 21 for a World Summit of Conscience to answer the question, “Why do I care about the planet?” and launched a “Call to Conscience for the climate” in view of the COP21 later from 30thNovember to 11th December
  • At the COP21 meeting, 195 States had to reach a universal, legally binding agreement to limit the global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100
  • The agreement recognizes the role of non-Party stakeholders in addressing climate change, including cities, other subnational authorities, civil society, the private sector and others (religion is not left out).
  • The United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability network, said that the recent papal encyclical on environmental principles “should inspire the private sector to do more to protect the environment and address climate change,” in an open letter delivered to the representative of His Holiness Pope Francis in New York, 2015.
  • To some extent Pope Francis, who addressed the world leaders during the UN assembly 2015 influenced the decision to adopt the 17 SDGs
  • The document has highlighted the relationship between environment and other social responsibilities especially with regard to the plight for the poor and a call to help them
  • Dialogue is already started: the involvement of the World religions and wisdom in the running up to the COP 21 in the World Summit of Conscience around the question, “Why do I care about the planet” was a mileage partly of Pope Francis` Encyclical letter.
  • Inclusivity: COP 21 in fact recognized the role of the non-party stakeholders in addressing climate change; this includes: civil society, private sector and others
  • UN has made many deliberate moves to work with religions in the fight against climate change

CONCLUSION

  • Caring for Environment starts with each and everyone of us
  • Caring for Environment is a common responsibility (community)
  • Caring for Environment is a commitment, an attitude
  • The Pope has spoken and we need to convert his powerful words in to powerful actions
  • Caring for Environment is ultimately a spiritual exercise leading to the deeper knowledge of God