Islamic Relief has welcomed Pope Francis’ fundamental encyclical on climate change. Significant in its request to the world’s population to act, Laudato Si’ highlights climate change, the loss of nature and the growing global inequality as the greatest threats to the world.

Dr Mohamed Ashmawey

Dr Mohamed Ashmawey

CEO of Islamic Relief Dr Mohamed Ashmawey said: “Islamic Relief welcomes Laudato Si’. Pope Francis has consistently spoken about the need to remember and help the world’s poorest people, and his latest views are shared by many faith-based organisations including Islamic Relief.

“We too believe that the world must recognise that climate change is one of the greatest moral, social and environmental issues facing humanity today. We believe global warming is occurring and that the impacts of climate change are not evenly distributed; time and again, we have seen the poorest countries suffering the impacts of climate change the most.”

Islamic teachings are rich in guiding principles and values that can ensure environmental sustainability. Islamic Relief, Climate Action Network (CAN), Islamic Foundation for Ecology & Environmental Sciences (IFEES) and Green Faith will co-host the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium in Istanbul in August. The two-day session will include discussions and workshops such as The Global State of Islam and Environment, and Environment and Climate from an Islamic perspective.

Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano

Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano

Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, senior policy advisor for poverty reduction at Islamic Relief, said: “Farmers in many of the countries where we work have consistently told us that they have seen weather patterns shift and become more erratic; whether it is through drought, flooding, or unpredictable monsoon seasons, many people have told us of changes beyond the usual weather patterns.

“When people from wealthier countries suffer a drought or a flood, their governments have the capacity and resources to help them. When people from poorer countries suffer a drought or a flood, they often lose their crops. This means their livelihoods are lost and they are left with little to eat. Climate change has very serious consequences for so many people across the world and it is unacceptable that so many people are suffering so much because those with the resources to make the changes are yet to act decisively.”

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis referred to the impact the deterioration of the environment had on “the most vulnerable people on the planet” citing examples such as the loss of fishing reserves impacting on small fishing communities, water pollution harming the poor who cannot buy bottled water, and rises in sea levels affecting coastal populations who often have nowhere else to go.

Islamic Relief’s work on climate change is seen in programmes, policy and advocacy. We recently shared climate change research in Bangladesh, for example, and advocated to political forums on actions to be taken.