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Faiths for Forests campaign launched at Climate Action Summit

The Faiths for Forests campaign was officially launched on Sunday, September 22, 2019 as a contribution to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, kicking off a global faith-based movement of mobilisation, education and advocacy around halting and reversing tropical deforestation.

Faiths for Forests campaign
UN Environment Executive Director Inger Andersen announcing the Faiths for Forests campaign launch at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit

The announcement was made by Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UN Environment, and endorsed by Sonia Guajajara, Executive Coordinator of the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – APIB).

Faiths for Forests is a global campaign and call to action to support religious leaders, faith communities and places of worship around the world to get involved in efforts to protect, restore and sustainably manage tropical forests. The campaign also advocates for the rights of the indigenous peoples and forests communities that are on the front lines in the fight to halt and reverse tropical deforestation.

At the 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace, over 900 religious leaders from 125 countries and representing a constituency of more than one billion people joined together to affirm their commitment to end tropical deforestation and stand in solidarity with the indigenous peoples that serve as their guardians by endorsing the Faiths for Forests Declaration.

The declaration states that the protection of tropical forests and indigenous peoples’ rights is a moral responsibility, is essential to global efforts to combat climate change and is an issue that demands the mobilising power, influence and reach of the world’s religious leaders and faith communities.

The declaration, it was gathered, is now open for endorsement by any faith-based organisation, network or institution around the world.

In the last decade alone, an area of tropical forest the size of the United Kingdom, France and Germany combined has been lost forever. This destruction is regarded as unnecessary and is undermining efforts to address climate change, sustainable development and human rights.

“The Faiths for Forests campaign is a big deal – a declaration that needs to get out all around the world and a library of educational materials that have been developed specifically for religious leaders and faith communities on deforestation, climate change and the rights of indigenous peoples,” says Charles McNeill, UNEP’s coordinator of the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative.

The Interfaith Rainforest Initiative is said to have collaborated with leading forest, climate and human rights experts to develop a series of educational materials for religious leaders and faith communities on forest protection. This series is meant to inform and inspire faith communities to action to help safeguard tropical forests and their inhabitants.

Together, Brazil, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia and Peru contain 70 percent of the world’s remaining tropical forests. They are regarded as the battleground for protection of rainforests and the rights of indigenous peoples.

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