The Catholic agency Progressio has told senior faith leaders from across the UK that poor and marginalised communities in the developing world are “part of the solution” in tackling climate change, saying their vital contribution to curbing global warming must not be forgotten ahead of the pivotal climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this December.
At an event hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Progressio’s Advocacy Manager, Tim Aldred spoke of the devastating effects that environmental degradation is having on poor communities in countries like Ecuador and Nicaragua, which are being made worse by climate change.
He told the 100-strong gathering at Lambeth Palace’s ‘faith and climate change seminar’ that up to 30 per cent of Ecuador’s Andean grasslands had been lost in some highland areas due to mismanagement, while in Nicaragua large swathes of forest had been destroyed as trees were used for firewood.
But, said Aldred, in both cases poor communities have come together to tackle environmental problems head on. In Ecuador, grasslands are gradually being restored using traditional farming methods and areas of Nicaraguan forest are returning as people switch to new, cleaner stoves.
He declared: “Poor communities are not the problem; they are our partners in finding solutions. They are taking responsibility for changing their behaviour and that of their friends, neighbours and leaders. They are addressing environmental damage and promoting sustainable development. The test of the deal in Copenhagen will be whether it helps poor communities like those in Ecuador and Nicaragua adapt and flourish in the face of climate change.”