The urgency of society acting at scale on the environmental emergency now requires much more effective collaboration at all levels, from local to international. In 2022, A Rocha UK will be reinforcing Christian collaboration on the environment, to build on the success of the Climate Sunday initiative.
There’s an old adage: ‘if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go in company’. A good example of this truth has been the Climate Sunday initiative. Working together, a group of staff, from around a dozen Christian denominations and charities, has helped more than 2,300 churches across the UK and Ireland to take action on climate change in the run up to last years’ COP26 climate conference. And the legacy website provides a wealth of resources to help churches fulfil their commitments to ongoing action. No one single organisation could have had this impact on their own.
A Rocha UK is not just committed to working collaboratively ourselves but also to making it easier for others to do the same. One forum in which A Rocha UK participates is the churches’ Environmental Issues Network (EIN). It was members of EIN who conceived, developed, ran and largely funded Climate Sunday.
With other members of EIN, we are now planning several important developments. The first is to widen participation. Currently EIN brings together the environmental ‘leads’ of more than 30 traditional denominations and Christian development and environment charities. Regular participants include staff from the Church of England, Baptist Church, Methodist Church, Church in Wales, and Church of Scotland, alongside specialists from charities such as CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Operation Noah, Green Christian and A Rocha UK. But EIN could be even more effective with greater representation of independent church networks and black majority churches for example.
A second focus for 2022 is to broaden EIN’s leadership. EIN has long been coordinated by volunteers from one or two organisations – currently A Rocha UK and Christian Aid – with welcome administrative support from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). We are now working to establish a wider steering group of different ages and traditions. This will not only expand EIN’s leadership capacity but also allow a wider group of Christian environmental leaders to get vital hands-on experience of facilitating vital collaborations for the future.
Following Climate Sunday there is a strong momentum among Christian groups for sustaining joint work. One outcome is that EIN recently identified three key issues which it recommends Christians and churches campaign on following the outcomes of COP26, and it has rapidly produced an accessible briefing to help. It will be available very soon on the Climate Sunday website above. Those issues are ending UK fossil fuel production, compensating countries in the Global South for the irreversible loss and damage caused to them by climate change, and our own ‘Ecological Conversion’. A Rocha UK is encouraging all supporters and Churches to act on these.
Photo credit: Hand-In to No.10 of the Climate Sunday commitments by Thom Flint/CAFOD.