Anglicans to be represented at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi

Posted Feb 21, 2024

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion will be represented at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi meeting Feb. 24 – March 1 to discuss the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. The UNEA is the only forum in which the world’s countries discuss the environmental crisis as a whole.

The Anglican delegation at the assembly include the Rev. Rachel Mash, coordinator of the Anglican Communion Environment Network from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa; Nicholas Pande from the Anglican Alliance; and the Rev. Denis Nthenge, chaplain to the Most Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

During the assembly, Mash will be cochairing discussions about how civil society can work to find a coherent position on the root causes of the environmental crisis. This is important work to ensure clarity is given in government negotiations about what churches are hearing from those most impacted by the crisis – including indigenous peoples and those with the smallest financial resources.

Her interventions will focus particularly on how we move away from excessive consumerism and throw-away mentalities to a sustainable economy that prioritizes what can be reused and recycled. It will call on governments to act on issues of waste management and socially-responsible mining.

Mining has a major impact on many Anglican communities. While it can contribute to job creation, strengthening local economies and reducing poverty, it also can become linked to infringement on indigenous rights, exacerbate conflict and child labor, and irreparably damage the environment. The delegation will draw attention to how the Anglican Communion is in dialogue with mining companies to achieve better environmental practice, through church ethical investment work and local community engagement.

Pande, environmental lead for the Anglican Communion’s U.N. team, will attend the assembly to speak with governments and other faiths groups, looking for opportunities to advance global and local responses to protecting biodiversity and limiting the increase in global warming. He also will refer to the Anglican Communion’s “Communion Forest” (a global initiative encouraging reforestation and tree planting around the world) as a powerful response from Anglicans to the environmental crisis.

Nthenge will coordinate a youth presence at the civil society gathering that starts the assembly, mostly including representatives of the Green Anglicans movement in Kenya.

At the last UNEA, the world’s governments made a landmark agreement to manage plastic, which can determine how much plastic our countries produce and what plastic we use and throw away everyday. A similar agreement could be made on waste management – a major issue for many Anglican communities living amidst the waste, with the greatest impact on the most vulnerable in our societies.

Looking ahead to the discussions, Mash said, “Climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution are some of the biggest long-term threats we face to human flourishing. The Church is called to care for God’s creation and stand in solidarity with those suffering. Representing Anglicans at this U.N. Environment Assembly is a vital way to share the experience of indigenous people in these discussions.  Powerful change can be made when we work together with others to contribute to a more just world.”