Attending last week’s UN Environment Assembly, Islamic Relief unveiled a new environmental policy committing to be carbon neutral by 2021.

The Islamic Relief environmental policy commits the organisation to doing all we can to lower our carbon emissions, including by reducing consumption and using sustainable products and services.

It responds to key issues examined at the Environment Assembly, in which agreements were forged on how to eradicate food waste and single-use plastics and find sustainable means of travel. Other areas with particular relevance to Islamic Relief were waste management, innovations for pastoralists, empowering women and girls and human rights in environmental governance.

Resolutions to explore the connections between poverty and the environment, and to extend the world environmental review, were also passed.

In a ministerial statement delivered at the closing of the Assembly on Friday, countries pledged to ensure the active participation of civil society, citizens, indigenous peoples, local communities and other relevant stakeholders in achieving sustainable development. They undertook to “spearhead poverty eradication efforts through sustainable environment and natural resources management”.

In the closing session, many delegates regretted that resolutions to regulate geoengineering and to limit deforestation were not passed. It is understood that pressure from oil producing countries influenced by the fossil fuel industry led to the geoengineering resolution being abandoned. Countries confirmed that it will need to be considered later. One particular country, home to the biggest rainforest in the world, stood out against the regulation of forest destruction – this may lead to the United Nations founding principle of consensus being reviewed.

To put to use its accreditation with the United Nations Environment Programme, Islamic Relief has agreed to join the Committee of Permanent Representatives as an NGO member and so will take part in key discussions leading up to the next Assembly in 2021.

Photo: The Flipflopi project, a boat built entirely from plastic collected on beaches and roadsides in Kenya. Credit UNEP