Tag: Climate

COVID Awareness Sessions

COVID-19 – A Dress Rehearsal For Climate Change

COVID Awareness Sessions

“COVID-19 is not only a wake-up call, it is a dress rehearsal for the world of challenges to come.”, stated UN Secretary-General António Guterres during his address to the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2020.

According to health and biodiversity experts around the world, the current COVID-19 pandemic is deeply connected to the climate crisis and our continued venture into spaces previously occupied by nature to obtain new resources and farmland. In the 2015 report of the Rockefeller Foundation – Lancet Commission on planetary health, scientists observed:

“Health effects from changes to the environment including climatic change, ocean acidification, land degradation, water scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, and biodiversity loss pose serious challenges to the global health gains of the past several decades and are likely to become increasingly dominant during the second half of this century and beyond. These striking trends are driven by highly inequitable, inefficient, and unsustainable patterns of resource consumption and technological development, together with population growth.”

We have reached a new era: the Anthropocene. An era in which humans shape the surface of our planet and, thereby, the fate of future generations.

UN statistics show that each year we destroy 10 million hectares of forest on our planet, mainly for gaining access to new farmland to feed growing populations worldwide. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2020 Living Planet Report, populations of nearly 21,000 species of mammals, fish, birds and amphibians declined by an average of 68 % globally between 1970 and 2016. Burning of fossil fuels and deforestation resulted in increases in the concentration of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere by 47 % since the beginning of the Industrial Age, and by 11 % since the year 2000, resulting in global warming, changing weather patterns and more frequent extreme events. (Read more about SDG 13,14 and 15 at https://sdgs.un.org/goals)

But what we often seem to ignore is that by destroying our planet, we are also putting us humans at risk. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change will kill an additional quarter of million people a year through the spread of infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever. Increasing interactions between animals and humans as we venture into the last truly wild spaces on Earth will facilitate the spread of new strings of diseases, such as COVID-19 and Ebola, and an increasing risk of flooding in a changing climate will likely bring more outbreaks of waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid.

COVID-19 is a crisis of our own making and, with climate change and resource extraction advancing, there is more to come in the future.

Solomon Islands, Logging
Unregulated logging in Melanesia causes loss of habitat and potentially species, flooding and human rights issues

The good news is: there is hope. The response to the pandemic has shown that people all across the globe have been willing to significantly alter their lives and work in partnership in order to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. Every one of us has an enormous capacity to adapt to new circumstances.

“The environment is God’s gift to everyone. And we have a responsibility towards each other to protect it. We cannot think of ourselves as isolated from others or from creation.”, is the official view of the Church of England on stewardship for the environment.

By taking little steps, all of us can help to create a more sustainable and more equitable world, which our friends in Melanesia and our future generations in this country can strive for.

Here are 8 actions that we can take:

  1. Adjust your diet: Eat smaller or fewer portions of meat, particularly red meat, which has the largest environmental impact, and reduce dairy products or use non-dairy alternatives instead. Try to choose fresh, seasonal produce that is grown locally to help reduce the carbon emissions from transportation, preservation and prolonged refrigeration.
  2. Consume and waste less: Avoid food waste. Try to repair and reuse items and don’t buy more than you need. Consider second-hand options or high quality items, which will last a long time. Give unwanted items a new life by donating them to charity, selling them on or giving them away for free in your neighbourhood. Put your purchasing power to good use by choosing ethical brands.
  3.  Leave the car at home: Walk or cycle as much as possible – and enjoy the exercise and the money saved. For longer journeys, use public transport, or try car sharing schemes. If driving is unavoidable, investigate switching your diesel or petrol car for an electric or hybrid model. 
  4. Cut back on flying:  Choose nearby holiday destinations and take public transport where you can or use car sharing schemes. If you need to fly for work, consider using video conferencing instead. When flying is unavoidable, pay a little extra for carbon offsetting and fly economy – on average, a business class passenger has a carbon footprint which is three times higher than someone’s in economy.
  5. Save energy: Turn off lights and appliances when you don’t need them. Replace light bulbs with LEDs or other low-energy lights. Make simple changes to how you use hot water, like buying a water-efficient shower head. Consider switching energy supply to a green tariff, which is a great way to invest in renewable energy sources – and could save money on bills.
  6. Respect and protect green spaces: If you have your own outdoor space, don’t replace the grass with paving or artificial turf. Plant trees and create your own green space. The Woodland Trust has tools and resources to support you. Help to protect and conserve green spaces like local parks, ponds or community gardens. Organisations like Fields In Trust and the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces have advice and resources on how you can get involved in areas local to you. 
  7. Invest your money responsibly: Find out where your money goes. Voice your concerns about ethical investment by writing or talking to your bank or pension provider, and ask if you can opt out of funds investing in fossil fuels. You can also investigate ‘ethical banking’.
  8. Make your voice heard by those in power: Tell your Member of Parliament, local councillors and city mayors that you think action on climate change is important. You can also get your local church involved in engaging with your MP about climate change. Hope for the Future can help you with training and resources.

Marie Schlenker

Walande, School Children

Fifth mark of mission – to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Society of St Francis, Logging and the UN conference

Logging In Melanesia – A Call To Action

In March over 30 supporters gathered online to hear about the Society of Francis’ mission in the Solomon Islands to highlight the wider implications and impacts of illegal, unregulated and unsustainable logging. Joining us the day after their address to the United Nations, Brs Worrick and Lent in Honiara and Minister General Christopher John in Australia, shared with us their concerns for the forests and people of Melanesia –

The forests of the Solomon Islands have sustained life in all its forms over countless generations. But now trees are being felled, dragged down from the mountain areas, and exported as unprocessed round logs. The logging companies, mostly Malaysian, often bribe politicians and local representatives to obtain logging licenses. Customary landowners receive some payment for their logs, but after the logging company has left there is nothing but bare earth. The work of the loggers is not monitored by government and often the terms of the logging licence are not respected. The effects are widespread.

Watch the Brothers’ UN address;

And find out more about the Brothers’ mission; Logging & the Abuse of Human Rights.

The Brothers have asked us to pray for their work and the three main recommendations they want the Solomon Islands Government to address:

  1. Protect human rights against abuses by logging companies; ensure effective remedies for victims; and bring the perpetrators to justice. 
  2. Ensure that the right to free, prior and informed consent be fully respected and implemented through all stages of the logging process, in accordance with international human rights standards.
  3. Adopt a coherent and comprehensive mitigation and adaptation climate policy and actions based on human rights norms and principles.

Following the Brothers’ talk there was presentation on what our response might be towards climate and environmental justice, including shopping ethically – checking for sustainable forestry certification, engaging with our own politicians, government in the run up to COP26, becoming an eco-church and attending one of the Franciscan’s climate events at Hilfield or online.

Society of St Francis, Logging and the UN conference, call to action

If you would like to support the Brothers’ mission, or to watch the Call to Action conference recording, please contact MMUK.

Solomon Islands, Logging
Solomon Islands, Logging

Logging & the Abuse of Human Rights

Brothers from the Society of St Francis in the Solomon Islands are making a stand against illegal, unregistered and unsustainable logging in their country, via petitions to the United Nations. SSF Minister General Br Christopher John, writes about this important mission.

Solomon Islands, Logging

The forests of the Solomon Islands have sustained life in all its forms over countless generations. But now trees are being felled, dragged down from the mountain areas, and exported as unprocessed round logs. The logging companies, mostly Malaysian, often bribe politicians and local representatives to obtain logging licenses. Customary landowners receive some payment for their logs, but after the logging company has left there is nothing but bare earth. The work of the loggers is not monitored by government and often the terms of the logging licence are not respected. The effects are widespread. Destruction of environment, pollution of waterways, flash flooding which sweeps debris downstream where it blocks culverts and bridges, causing them to be washed away, and muddy water which pollutes fishing areas and damages the reefs which have a vital role in absorbing the energy of incoming waves.  The damage is also social, cultural and spiritual. There are recorded incidents of prostitution associated with loggers, including trafficking in underage females. An excess of cash can also lead to increased alcohol consumption and gender-based violence. Such logging destroys the traditional reliance on forests to provide shelter for food crops, a place to hunt wild animals, a source of timber, vines and leaves for building houses and canoes, as well as the environment for plants used for medicinal purposes. 

The Society of St Francis is one of the four Anglican religious communities in Solomon Islands. Our Brothers there know well the destructive effects of logging. They see it in the villages and when they are travelling out on mission. On our own we are too small to do much, but through our membership of Franciscans International (the voice of Franciscans at the United Nations) we are taking part in the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights being held in Geneva and online. Solomon Islands is one of the nations whose recognition of human rights is being examined at the UN Human Rights Council. On March 25 at the “Pre-Sessions” Br Lent gave the following address;

STATEMENT FOR UPR PRE-SESSION SOLOMON ISLANDS

Thank you to UPR Info for providing me the opportunity to speak. My name is Lent Fugui, a Franciscan Anglican brother from Solomon Islands.

I present this statement on behalf of a coalition of Franciscans and Dominican NGOs.

In the previous UPR cycle, several states made statements and recommendations on the issue of natural resources exploitation as well as climate change. 

Our focus for this presentation is the impact of logging activities in Solomon Islands on human rights.

In the activities of natural resources exploitation in my country, in particular logging activities in the customary land, there is a lack of participation and consent of local communities affected by logging plans and operations. In some cases, the environmental and human rights issue we raised during Timber Rights Hearings in the process are not taken into consideration by the Provincial Government.

In Laovavasa, Guadalcanal Island, we observed that logging activities have left behind great devastation. When the loggers harvest largest trees, they end-up destroying other small trees. The consequences of the destruction of forest and land are considered very severe by the community, as soils are now eroding; water sources dry up; rainfall is not dispersed efficiently, flash floods happen more regularly, as well as more droughts and landslides.

The diversion of the economy towards logging has impacted the traditional ways of life. In my country, fishery is a key source of livelihood. However, fish resources have declined because of sedimentation of rivers and reefs. This is a result of runoff from upstream cutting areas, and log-pond and wharf construction.

In February-March 2020, major floods in the Guadalcanal Province impacted our school, the Selwyn College of the Church of Melanesia, located in a coastal area surrounded by forest. The flood affected access to safe drinking water, sanitary facilities, food gardens of the school, as well as the rural health centre next to the school. As the septic tanks were flooded, there were serious concerns regarding the health impacts. Floods are believed to be exacerbated by logging activities in the upstream area around the school compound.

There have been several allegations of sexual violence related to the presence of logging companies and their foreign workers.  A report on the gendered effects of corporate logging in Malaita Islands found that women in the region experienced sexual exploitation.

Women are also disproportionately affected by logging and mining activities, in particular in the cases where women have a limited role in negotiations on land. Women have often been neglected in decision-making process.

In 2018, five environmental activists, known as Nende Five, were imprisoned for opposing the logging activities in the primary forest on Nende in Santo-Cruz Island in Temotu Province. While three of the activists were acquitted, one activist, is facing life imprisonment for arson and another was convicted of larceny and unlawful damage; their lawyer stated that their confessions were given under duress.

We are very much concerned on the impact of logging activities on climate change. Despite its commitment to mitigate climate change, the Government of Solomon Islands has not submitted its revised Nationally Determined Contribution. The forest in Solomon Islands has been contributing to the world’s carbon sink. However, if the deforestation continues, the impact of logging activities will be very significant for the environment, not only for Solomon Islands but also the global efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

We would like to propose the following recommendations to the Government of Solomon Islands.

The government should protect human rights against abuses and environmental degradation by logging companies and ensure effective remedies when abuses occured. It should also take appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure that the use and exploitation of natural resources do not adversely affect the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights as well as to ensure that, through all stages of the logging process, the rights to participation and information of affected communities are fully respected, in accordance with international standards.

The government should undertake awareness-raising programs on the environmental, social and human rights impacts of logging and on the rights and protections people shall enjoy, including programs targeting women and youths and take appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure that the use of exploitation of natural resources do not infringe the rights of local communities to dispose freely of their lands, territory, and natural resources, in accordance with international standards.

It is important to guarantee the effective protection of people at risk because they defend their rights or the rights of communities, the land or the environment in the context of logging projects. The government should ensure that all violations committed against defenders are thoroughly and impartially investigated and that victims are provided with effective remedies.

The government should ensure effective protection against violence against women and children, including sexual abuse and exploitation and domestic violence, with a focus on communities affected by logging activities.

Finally, the government should ensure access to sufficient safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for the entire population, including those who are affected by, or even active in, logging activities, as well as to adopt a coherent and comprehensive mitigation and adaptation climate policy and actions based on human rights norms and principles.

Thank you. Br Lent

Solomon Islands, Logging

Highlighting this concern at the UN is just the beginning of what is planned to be a campaign calling on different organisations to work in different ways according to their capacity. At an international level, tracking where the finished timber products are sold; regionally, finding allies and sources of information in small nations which have successfully stood up to the pressure of logging interests; nationally and provincially within the Solomons, finding effective ways of lobbying politicians and helping them find solutions to the problems of logging; and at village level, the members of religious orders and others working to educate people and give them strategies to resist the pressure of logging interests.

SSF Minister General Br Christopher John

Marie Schlenker

New Intern – Marie Schlenker

Marie Schlenker has recently joined MMUK as an intern and will support our team over the next three months. Marie is passionate about reducing inequalities in this world through sharing and caring for God’s creation. During her placement she will focus on creating new opportunities for environmental education and practical climate action.

Marie Schlenker

In her role as an intern at MMUK, Marie will take the lead in developing a climate change course for the students at the theological colleges in Melanesia, which will equip the next generation of priests with the necessary skills to incorporate climate change into their teachings and set up environment observatories in their local communities. Furthermore, she will network to increase opportunities for wider audiences in Melanesia and the UK to get involved in practical climate action, which is essential to ensure that our friends in Melanesia today and our next generations in the UK can continue to hope for a bright future.  

Marie Schlenker

Marie has a background in science and is working towards her PhD at the University of Southampton, studying climate change impacts and community relocations in Solomon Islands. With the support of MMUK and ACoM, she conducted research in remote communities in Solomon Islands in 2019, visiting the Provinces of Guadalcanal and Malaita. Furthermore, she is involved in the design and implementation of citizen-based environmental monitoring within the ACoM Environment Observatory. Before starting her PhD, Marie completed a Masters degree in Environmental Physics and volunteered as a teacher in Chile.

Honiara Central Market

Climate Change – Unforeseen Effects on Diet and Health

The impacts of climate change can be surprisingly far reaching, affecting families in unexpected and complex ways. Here, Tagolyn Kabekabe, the Anglican Alliance’s Pacific facilitator, talks about some of these impacts in the Solomon Islands, describing a chain of consequences that include a change in the types of diseases affecting communities.

The whole of the Pacific is affected by rising sea levels but it is worst for the low-lying islands. We have had instances when a spring tide has washed through the islands taking everything with it: the chickens, the pigs; it washes through the kitchen taking the pots, the pans; everything into the sea. These are phenomena that people are now experiencing, which they say never happened in the past. They used to have high tides, but they know it was only half a metre – but that has changed so much in the last 15 years.

Walande Island

When we have this rising sea level and unusual high tides and things like that, it actually destroys whatever crop is grown not necessarily just along the beach or coastline, but it also affects inland. A lot of people plant swamp taro and this needs a certain salinity to be able to grow well and produce tubers. But when you have extra salt it disturbs the level of salinity-it becomes too salty and it affects the crop. It rots the tubers and in the long run it kills off everything. This affects not only the current harvest but also the ability of people to replant the following season. Too much salt in the soil also affects the growing of bananas, bread fruit, even coconuts. A certain level of salt is suitable for these plants but too much kills them.

Our rainfall patterns have changed too, in two major ways: one is that we don’t get the rains when we expect them and the second is that when we get the rain it is too much-or maybe too little. The unusual rain pattern also affects crops. Too much rainwater disturbs the balance. So it is both ways, and these are things our people have no control over. We cannot control sea level rise and we cannot control how much rain falls onto the crops. Our people cannot protect themselves from these things and so the people simply go with what happens.

Honiara Central Market

Swamp taro is the staple food of these islanders. As swamp taro has declined due to increasing soil salinity the diet of the community has changed drastically. People start to depend on imported foods such as rice, flour, noodles, sugar, tea, and canned meat and fish. And for these, people are dependent on supply boats. There is a time known as the time of ‘hunger’ when the boats that bring the imported foods, medicines, etc, do not follow the monthly schedules and this is a very common occurrence, especially when it is not bêche-de-mer (sea cucumber) season. People then, for a month or more, eat only fish and coconuts, which greatly affects their wellbeing especially young children. Malnutrition then becomes an ever-increasing issue among children, and under-nutrition among adults.

The change from a very traditional concentrated and nutritious diet to a foreign and less nutritious one has resulted in many problems for the islanders. Traditionally, our people are very healthy but now we are seeing increased levels of obesity and non-communicable diseases. There is an increase in diabetes and high blood pressure, diseases that we did not know of in the past. These problems are further compounded by the lack of basic medicines, diagnostic equipment, technicians and qualified medical staff in rural areas, resulting in patients not knowing their statuses and so succumbing to disease. The fact that rural health facilities lack trained nurses means referrals of patients is virtually non-existent and many people do not have the money to pay for the boat fares to Honiara because of their limited resources. In these situations, people die of treatable diseases in the islands.

The forced change in diet affects families in other ways too. For our very rural people who are subsistence farmers and who live off the land, it is a struggle to be able to buy the rice, which means that what little crops they have, they have to sell or, if they have children who are working in towns and cities, they depend on them. That is one of the patterns we are now experiencing-that our families who live in the villages now depend on the children who are working and earning money to actually supply the rice for them. And this puts a strain on our community.

Tagolyn Kabekabe, tagolyn.kabekabe@anglicancommunion.org

Church Observatory

News from the ACoM Environment Observatory

Communities in Solomon Islands have been identified to be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and associated sea-level rise. Some evidence of these impacts is already visible. For example, the artificial island of Walande, located off the coast of South Malaita, has been submerged by rising sea-levels in recent years and the community has been faced with relocation onto the nearby mainland. Low-lying coastal communities across the country are threatened by similar scenarios. Scientific data is urgently needed to understand the environmental changes that communities are facing in the Solomon Islands today and in the future. The Anglican Church of Melanesia Environment Observatory aims to create an extensive database of environmental change across the country, based on local observations of Anglican communities, which will increase local understanding of climate-related issues and build resilience in vulnerable communities.

Selwyn College students boarding an outboard motor canoe
Selwyn College students boarding an outboard motor canoe – evacuated by ship to Honiara during the flash floods earlier this year. Photo by Fr. Losdale Rubaha

At present, the ACoM Environment Observatory consists of four different monitoring test sites, located at Fanalei Island, Walande, Selwyn College and Red Beach, Honiara. These test sites are coordinated by trained representatives of the respective communities, the “Green Apostles”. At the test sites, continuous data on temperature, rainfall, water levels and shoreline change are collected. The observatory project is managed by a local ACoM staff member, Freda Fataka, and supported by a team of international scientists, including Dr Adam Bobbette (University of New South Wales) and Marie Schlenker (University of Southampton).

The first 6-months of environmental data has been successfully collected at the test sites and has been shared with the research team for analysis. While it is too early to see any trends in the data, it has been a great opportunity to review the set up and organisation of the observatory. In February, Selwyn College was flooded and evacuated; in March, the Solomon Islands Government declared a State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic; in April, Cyclone Harold caused widespread destruction in the Pacific and affected the test sites at Selwyn College, Red Beach, and Fanalei. The observatory has been through some extremely testing situations this year. The good news: while there have been temporary disruptions to the data collection and some adjustments needed to be made to the measurement structures, data collection in the ACoM Environment Observatory continues and the spirits of all participating people are high. Freda highlighted that her visits to the test sites showed that Green Apostles and community members “were committed faithfully and put all their efforts towards the success of the project”. We look forward to continuing to work on this exciting project.

Freda & Marie

Bishop of DOVNC, the Rt Rev James Tama, with Vanuatu Disaster Relief Team

ACoM Vanuatu Disaster Team Visits Pentecost

A six-member team from the ACoM Office in Vanuatu and Diocese of Vanuatu & New Caledonia (DOVNC) are currently in Pentecost following reports received from the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Harold in April 2020.

Team Leader Fr. Benjamin Tosiro said: “During the visit, the team will be running training to equip Clergy, ACoM School Principals and their councils on various important topics to equip members of the Church during times of any disaster.

“COVID-19 hand washing awareness and distribution of relief supplies will also be carried out. Relief supplies include food, gardening tools, handwashing facilities for Churches, and Spiritual encouragement booklets for parishes,” Fr. Tosiro said.

“The ACoM Education officer who is part of the team will be accessing ACoM schools affected by the cyclone on the island,” he continued.

“Clergymen from four regions on Pentecost, including the Mothers’ Union Leaders, Youth Leaders, Sunday School Leaders and chairmen of the parishes will also be involved in this training.”

The team arrived in Pentecost on 24th June will be there until 8th July 2020.

Information and Photo by John Siba, ACOM Vanuatu.

Emergency Appeal - Disaster Relief - Vanuatu

The Right Revd Dr Keith Joseph, Bishop of North Queensland

More Flooding At Selwyn College

Last month Selwyn College was flooded, and the school had to be evacuated and closed. The Right Revd Dr Keith Joseph, Bishop of North Queensland, looks back on his experience of flooding on Guadalcanal.

“I was a lecturer at Bishop Patteson Theological College in February 2009 when the first big floods to hit North-West Guadalcanal happened. Selwyn College was flooded, all the food garden around the college were flooded, but the floods were more widespread across all of the area from Selwyn College back towards Honiara. About 10,000 people lost their food gardens, sources of fresh water were polluted for months, homes and villages destroyed. At least twenty people drowned.

The heavy rains were not particularly new, though with Climate Change there might be more periods of sustained heavy rain than before. But in this case the new factor was deforestation. Before, when there were heavy rains, the forests on top of the hills and mountains held the water and released it gradually. But without the forests the rain just ran off the soil immediately and there was “flash flooding”. Since 2009 there has been more deforestation and more flooding.

The cause of deforestation and the cause of climate change are the same: human greed which sees the environment as something to be used and abused without consequences. The cash stays with the big men but does not get to the people who need it – but they are the ones who suffer the consequences of deforestation and climate change. The Churches must take a prophetic role: they must tell out that this abuse of the environment is ungodly and goes against the Bible. In Genesis 1.26 we humans are given “dominion” over creation – but this is never ownership. God owns creation. We are simply his stewards, entrusted with his creation for our use and that of our children and grandchildren, remembering that in the end we all will return to him. In the Old Testament the people of God are told to look after the land, to give it sabbath – and then condemned for not doing so (2 Chronicles 36.21). Like the prophets of old we are called to proclaim God’s justice against those who spoil his creation.”

+ Keith

The Right Revd Dr Keith Joseph
Bishop of North Queensland

Litany of Environmental Lament Header

Litany of Environmental Lament and Repentance From Melanesia

Minister General for the Society of St Francis Br Christopher John, was recently asked by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network to ask Franciscans in Melanesia to write a litany of environmental repentance. Br Chris expanded the brief and held a short workshop for all four of the Orders in Melanesia to write the piece for Ash Wednesday. The below is taken from the original, Litany of Environmental Lament and Repentance From Melanesia, and is free for further distribution.

God of the whole human race.
You have given us responsibility to care for each other. But we have exploited and hated each other by our wickedness.
We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Please help us to look to you and care for each other.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

O God of creation.
You have created land for us to make our gardens and for trees, animals and all living creatures on the earth.
Forgive us for our destruction of the land by logging and poisonous chemicals.
We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.

Help us O Lord to care for the land that you have given us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of the universe, the ocean and of love.
You have given us the ocean for fish, shells, reefs, whales, waves, corals, and for ships and boats.

We have destroyed the ocean and everything in it, and not cared for it.
We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Please help us to care for the ocean, and to recognise that it is your blessing for us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of the forest, in which all living things survive and engage their life and move peacefully.
You have given us wisdom, knowledge and understanding to use our resources well in a manageable manner.

We have been careless, short-sighted, and selfish and failed to share with other people throughout the world.

We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Please help us to think positively of your goodness and loving kindness. Please help us  to see the needs of others as you have Litany of Environmental Lament and Repentance From Melanesia seen us living in your beautiful forest.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of the universe, the God who created the atmosphere. By your power of creation you made the sky so beautiful, the sun to give us light during the day and the moon and the stars to give light during the night. You have given us clouds to bring rain and give life to your creatures.

Lord, we turn to you with a penitent heart for all the destructions we have caused to the atmosphere.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Merciful God, God of love and everything in this world. You have created the rain, winds, storms, cyclones, earthquakes, volcanoes and floods to renew your creation. Help us to understand their existence in your world.

We turn to you in sorrow and repentance. Please, Father, forgive us for the human activities which have overpowered the weather and caused destruction of our environment.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God you are our creator, the source of all wisdom and power. You have created humans and animals and you have appointed us humans to be responsible for them.

Forgive us who destroy your creatures. We turn to you in sorrow and repentance. Help us Lord to love and to care for them as you care for us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Written by members of the four Religious Orders in the Anglican Church of Melanesia.
Melanesian Brotherhood, Society of St Francis, Community of the Sisters of the Church, Community of the Sisters of Melanesia.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia includes 9 dioceses in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It is one of the areas of the world most vulnerable to climate change  due to sea level rise

To find out more about the impacts of climate change
https://abcnews.go.com/International/solomon-islands-disappear-pacific-ocean-result-climate-change/story?id=38985469

Anglican Communion Environmental Network Logo

Litany of Environmental Lament Footer

Green Apostle Training

The Anglican Church of Melanesia and Climate Change

Climate change and the future
The Anglican Church of Melanesia [ACoM] considers climate change one of the most significant environmental and social issues facing its community. With more than 100 years in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, ACoM understands that it can play a crucial role in solving future challenges. To do so, we need bold, innovative steps.

The remains of Fanalei Island
The remains of Fanalei Island

Sea level rise, increased severity of storms and flooding, droughts, saltwater intrusion into freshwater agriculture, and reef habitat loss, all threaten to destabilise local communities. Knock-on social consequences could result in ethnic conflicts, land disputes, and internally displaced peoples. Latent social tensions may be exacerbated if adequate preparations are not undertaken.

One challenge is a lack of accurate local data and environmental monitoring. The Solomon Islands Government does not have sufficient infrastructure or systems to monitor ongoing environmental change. International monitoring is focused on the wider Pacific region. Fisheries, forests, extreme weather events, and shoreline changes, are not sufficiently studied. The reality is stark: without monitoring we cannot know local conditions. We therefore cannot develop evidence-based mitigation plans.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia considers this an opportunity. We can contribute to sustaining local communities and supporting the people of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. We are undertaking the following initiatives.

The ACoM Environment Observatory
The creation of the Anglican Church of Melanesia Environment Observatory is forging new alliances between the environmental sciences and the Anglican Church of Melanesia. It aims to solve the dearth of local environmental monitoring. With a majority Anglican population, we are using churches throughout the archipelago as a network of scientific observatories. Installing monitoring equipment operated by clergy and lay people, churches are beginning to measure shoreline change, rain fall, storm intensity and duration. Daily readings are sent at regular intervals to ACoM headquarters, Honiara, where they will form the basis for scientific analysis.

In our first year of implementation we established three observatories on three islands. Students and faculty from the Solomon’s Island University are undertaking shoreline measurements on Guadalcanal north shore.

In the coming years, we will expand stations to all islands with ACoM churches and integrate observing with clerical duties. This will produce a close-range portrait of environmental change and the basis for accurate mitigation strategies. Data will be in the public domain and a valuable resource to local and international climate change scientists. Rather than import costly monitoring equipment and expertise from abroad, the observatory repurposes existing church infrastructure and expertise.

This innovative approach is appealing to churches in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. Anglican and other Christian communities in Australia, Vanuatu, Samoa, and the UK, are developing partnerships to extend the observatory network. Post-graduate architectural design courses on the observatory are being development with the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology, Sydney; and, the School of Design, Harvard University. The observatory is being studied as case study of the integration of science and religion in courses at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and Malua Theological College, Apia Samoa.

Green Apostles
To link environmental sciences with the Anglican Church of Melanesia community we have developed the Green Apostle award in collaboration with the Melanesian Mission (UK). Each award is given to monitors operating Observatory stations. Interested lay members and clergy have been trained in measuring shoreline change, operate rain gauges, and notating storm intensity and durations. It incentivises, recognizes and gives thanks for the efforts of our participants and contributes to skilling our community.

Green Apostle Training
Green Apostle Training

Education
We are undertaking initiatives to combine climate and environmental sciences with theological and religious education. With Bishop Patteson Theological College, international coastal scientists, theologians, and social scientists, are developing curriculum that integrates the study of climate change science with theological training. With faculty at the Solomon Islands National University, we are developing climate change curriculum. Our educational efforts endeavour to cross conventional boundaries between science and religion.

Coastal Erosion
To facilitate climate change research, we have formed a partnership with the University of Southampton, UK. We are supporting PhD research into coastal change impacts in the Solomon Islands. The research combines physical evidence of historical shoreline change from remote-sensing technology and a study of social implications based on participatory workshops and interviews in affected communities.

Measuring Coastal Erosion
Measuring Coastal Erosion

Relocation
Widespread coastal erosion threatens the well-being and development of communities in the Solomon Islands. The majority of the population live in highly vulnerable, low-lying coastal areas and relocation is already occurring across the country, most notably on the outer reef islands and small offshore artificial islands. At present, relocation efforts are rarely assisted by the government or NGOs. Unaided relocation of whole communities has led to the formation of illegal settlements and overcrowding, land disputes, and social conflict. ACoM, the Melanesian Mission UK, and the University of Southampton recognise the immediate need to develop adequate strategies to manage climate-induced relocation and intend to develop partnerships to support relocation efforts.

Combined strategies
Through this work we hope to be good stewards of the Solomon Islands for future generations.

Marie Schlenker and Dr Adam Bobbette