Appetite for action on climate and environment obvious at UCAN forum
It’s a good sign at an event when the participants seem just as enthusiastic and engaged as the organisers. That was the case during the Uniting Climate Action Network (UCAN) online planning forum this week.
Speaking as one of the organisers, we certainly wanted to be there, but the commitment to positive action on climate and environment among participants was unmistakable.
And that’s good, because the purpose of UCAN is to connect, encourage and support grassroots Uniting Church community members to do that very thing.
The focus of the forum was to look back and look forward. Look back at actions and events UCAN has been involved over the past 18 months and look forward to what the future action priorities could and should be.
The forum opened with an interview with Moderator Elect, Rev Mata Havea Hiliau. She spoke as a Christian, a mother, a Uniting Church Minister, and a Pasifika woman, on why acting on climate and care for the earth matters to her. She reminded us how this issue matters deeply to the church, and affirmed how Pasifika and First Nation’s wisdom on care for country could enrich that commitment.
We heard from three UCAN members who introduced themselves and told of the issues that captured their attention and what they were doing about them. Miriam Pepper, from the Uniting Eco Group, then spoke of their work, which was already varied and now includes a forest advocacy ministry. The group also maintains and adds to the worship, theological and other resources they have produced, through the Uniting Earthweb site.
We looked back at how UCAN members and the wider church community have spoken up about climate – visiting MPs, putting banners on our churches, posting on social media, and supporting young people in School Strike 4 Climate events. There has been a change in government and some positive shifts in climate policy and practice since then.
But the latest IPCC report reminds us that the world is still warming, and the need to reduce emissions and transition to renewable energy is urgent.
So, we also looked forward to what our action priorities should be. We considered different types of action – meeting with politicians, speaking into the public sphere, working to end coal mine expansions, reducing our own emissions, and acting on behalf of our Pacific neighbours. Participants indicated their preferences and noted down their own ideas for action under those categories and more, on a virtual whiteboard. For us as organisers this was the best part of the evening. The energy as the participant’s writing appeared across the screen, jotting down commitments and suggestions in a steady stream, belied the complete lack of sound as this was happening.
The task now is for us to digest those ideas, suggestions and commitments and allow them to shape the future action we take as a network. Some of that action will be in support of the large-scale policy changes needed to secure a safe climate future. Others will be more regionally or locally focussed – saving this patch of forest, safeguarding the health of that river. All will arise from the faith and energy of local Uniting and other church members and other grassroots communities to act on their values. As someone once said: “Change happens when enough people start to act as though the change has already happened.”
If you would like to find out more about or join the Uniting Climate Action Network you can visit the Uniting Climate website, or contact Jon O’Brien email@example.com or 0477 725 528
Uniting Advocacy Team
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