In what is arguably an underpublicized role within the United Nations Environment Program is Iyad Abumoghli’s job as Faith for Earth director.
He was appointed to develop and lead the implementation of UN Environment corporate strategy on engaging with faith-based organizations as a means of implementing the global 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Prior to this, he spent 32 years within the private sector with scientific and international organizations working on sustainable development, water resources management and environmental impact assessment.
The UN’s Faith for Earth initiative has three main objectives. The first is to strengthen partnerships with faith-based organizations leaders to boost environmentally friendly policies. Secondly, the group promotes green faith-based organizations’ investments, operations and assets. And lastly, the team aims to establish an accessible knowledge-based support system for faith-based groups.
He said in a recent UN press release that faith leaders are particularly well placed to communicate meaningful, pro-environment messages. The principle of environmental stewardship is one shared by almost all religions, he added.
The initiative supports, the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. When it comes to working with faith organizations, the objective is getting them to divest from fossil fuels and promote green energy. Responsible consumption and production is also at the heart of it as religion can shape what people eat, drink and our shared attitude towards natural resources, according to the UN.
The root cause of our environmental issues is our attitude towards natural resources, officials stress.
“Policies and agreements will help, but it is our daily environmental behavior that affects consumption patterns,” said Abumoghli in an interview published on the UN’s website. “There are an estimated 37 million churches, 3.6 million mosques, 20,000 synagogues and countless other temples and houses of worship dotted around the world. These institutions hold enormous assets which can make a huge difference if channeled for positive impact. They are also beacons to guide followers seeking spiritual redemption and inspired actions.”
Part of his work is in partnering for events. In conjunction with the Swedish International Development Agency, March 16 through 18, the Faith for Earth initiative is holding a People and Planet conference with around 180 participants from six countries. Religious leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, South Africa and Sweden will be exchanging experiences. Discussion will focus on the role of young faith leaders in tackling deforestation, water scarcity and climate change.
Then in May, in partnership with the Vatican, UNEP will be organizing an interfaith launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030.
Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.