Friend Kees Nieuwerth has recently shared a paper on The UN Sustainable Development Goals, Peace and the Churches available here. The paper offers insight into a joint meeting of German Mennonites, German Quakers and Church and Peace at the Thomashof held in 2018, reflecting on the Sustainable Development Goals in the context of just peace and issues a call for ecological and economic justice. An extract from the paper reads:
[The SDG Agenda] can only work if there is a transformation of the dominant economic model in the direction of what the WCC calls ‘An Economy of Life for All’ for us to be able to really pursue sustainability. After all, ignoring the constraints put on us by the planetary limits is not in keeping with the Gospel option for the poor and vulnerable or the care for creation.
The author is a member of Netherlands Yearly Meeting. He is also a member of the Board of the European Ecumenical Peace Movement Church and Peace.
Quakers in Loughborough, UK have published a Sustainability Handbook, advising Friends on lifestyle changes they can make to live more sustainably.
The project includes a range of approaches to sustainable living and contains contributions from almost every member of the meeting. It also includes a Resource section of tips on how to shop locally and sustainably in the surrounding areas. Friends’ reflections are accompanied by illustrations from artist Miriam Bean. Read below for some of the contributors’ experiences and reflections on producing the handbook and view the online version here. Requests for physical copies of the Handbook can be sent to Julian Rees.
“I was invited to a weekend at Bamford by members of Loughborough Quakers, to spend time reflecting on the environment and how we can each contribute positively to sustainable living. There have been many challenges to my thinking and lifestyle, but I really appreciate being able to share these with a group of like-minded Friends, especially as sustainability is becoming more and more prevalent in the news.” – John Bean
“I’ve seen sustainability issues as crucial since I joined Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth in the 1970’s. I’ve been part of various groups including Living Witness in British Quakers, being founder member of Loughborough Transition, facilitator for Carbon Footprint Support Groups, and part of team who set up an Area Meeting One Planet Living Group a few years ago, now laid down. It’s been a particularly heartwarming time in my sustainability journey when Loughborough Meeting developed its active Sustainability Group. There had been previous attempts which withered after a short while. It is so affirming now to be part of a committed group, and with the Quaker ethos.” – Sue Meredith Velado
“The climate crisis is a huge and daunting issue and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by it. Working in a group with others to make changes, no matter how small, made me feel less helpless. Creating the Loughborough Sustainability Handbook was such an affirming experience because it brought the Meeting together in a shared project and made me feel we were making a difference.” – Julian Rees
Friends from Victoria, Australia have been in touch to let us know about a newly launched climate network. The VRM Climate Action & Earthcare Network is part of the Victoria Regional Meeting of Friends. The Regional Meeting has about 330 members and attenders and is largely based in metropolitan Melbourne but with small meetings in regional areas.
Gerry Fahey, Co-Convenor of the VRM Climate Action and Earthcare Network wrote to let us know that the Network are taking part in the Greenfaith Sacred People, Sacred Earth campaign action. Greenfaith have organised an international statement that includes 10 demands calling for climate justice. This will be complemented by a day of local actions happening on 11th March 2021. Fahey commented, “The statement is strong and calls on governments and business to work towards real changes. It is at the core of a year on action in 2021 leading up to the COP26.”
To coincide with the 2020 Climate Dialogues, QUNO’s Human Impacts of Climate Change programme has launched a new publication. QUNO’s People’s Climate Empowerment Series is a helpful resource for anyone looking to become more engaged with climate action. The series connects people with international efforts that can strengthen climate action at all levels.
Our Human Impacts of Climate Change programme has been working on the international climate negotiations since 2011 in support of fair, ambitious and inclusive climate action. Climate change raises profound questions about how we live on the planet. The People’s Climate Empowerment Series offers 7 concise “2-siders”, which cover different aspects of international climate action, why they matter, and how to get involved. It includes introductions to different aspects of international environmental law, information on how to engage with the international human rights system, as well as case studies and examples of climate action from across the world. The series is written to empower people to take action.
Please visit our Resource Hub to explore this new Series online. To request a physical copy of the series, please click here.
Quakers in New Zealand have come together to release a call for action after COVID-19 focusing on the moral and spiritual imperative for transformational change. They reflects that “they were inspired in part by the words of George Monbiot about the power of stories.” The Call for Action has been widely shared around New Zealand, joining a range of voices calling for change following the pandemic.
Friend Frank Granshaw was recently in touch to share his work as part of the organizing group for the PDX Climate Bridge ahead of what would have been COP26 in November. The group has put together a virtual “Bridge Kit” to offer a guide to those looking to organize a local bridge to COP26. The PDX Climate Bridge sits under the umbrella of the Greater Portland Sustainability Education Network, delivering education for sustainable development to local communities.
Frank is a Quaker from the Pacific Northwestern United States. A retired geology instructor, he now teaches climate science for nonscientists at a local university and is heavily involved in climate and sustainability education and advocacy through several secular and religious organizations. He writes:
During a recent visit to the Oregon state capital I was asked during an elevator conversation with a capital staffer what I was doing there. I explained that I was there with a group talking with legislators about supporting climate related legislation. When asked about what motivated me to do so, I responded that I was originally trained as a glacial geologist and that I’m a grandparent. At which point she smiled and said that explains it.
As part of his teaching on the general studies course at Portland State University, Frank has published a Climate Toolkit: A Resource Manual for Climate Science and Action. It offers an accessible guide to climate science and action, and is written in such a way that it can be used in many different settings, including study groups, churches, community groups, or workplaces.
Every year on June 5th the world celebrates World Environment Day. This year the theme is biodiversity, which is a core piece of any healthy environment. Currently we are losing species at the fastest rate ever in human history. The following is a useful resource explaining what biodiversity is, why it is under threat, and what are the direct actions you and I can take to help protect biodiversity.
Scientists for Global Responsibility and Declassified UK have published a report which assesses the key environmental impacts of the UK military, arms industry and related sectors. It provides a detailed assessment of UK military greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – arguably, more in-depth than previously provided in a report in the public domain. It also gives an overview of other related environmental issues, especially those of particular concern, such as impacts resulting from weapons-use, the management of military nuclear waste, and the environmental impacts should nuclear weapons ever be used in war.
The Earth School is a collection of videos exploring and explaining the environment through quests running from Earth Day (April 22nd) to World Environment Day (June 5th). Each quest encourages young people to learn more about our planet, how all of its different moving parts work, and why it is important to take good care of our shared home. For example Quest 12 delves into biodiversity, provides an introductory video, engaging questions, and further resources. The project is supported by the United Nations Environmental Program, National Geographic, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Geoff Tansey lives in the UK and curates the open education on-line resource the Food Systems Academy and is a member of the Food Ethics Council. In this article he explains how COVID-19 has made it clear that military spending will not keep us safe, which also highlights the impending dangers and impacts of climate change. Tansey calls for a shift from military spending to investments in the resilience of our food systems, biodiversity, and climate.
Geoff Tansey’s books include The Food System: a guide (with Tony Worsley) and co-editorship (with Tasmin Rajotte) of The future control of food – A guide to international negotiations and rules on intellectual property, biodiversity and food security. This latter book came out of work he did as a consultant with QUNO Geneva the Quaker International Affairs Programme of Canadian Quakers. He is an honorary visiting fellow at the Universities of Cardiff, Lancaster and Newcastle and a member of Brighouse West Yorkshire Area Meeting.