We believe that every one of us has a responsibility to maintain the balance of the earth especially since disruption of this balance is causing widespread suffering amongst the world’s poorest people. As a result, communities are facing droughts, flooding and shortage of water. With such ever-changing weather patterns, it is getting more and more difficult to grow produce, keep farms and sustain food security.
Climate Change and Food Security is therefore crucial to Islamic Relief as not only is it one of the Islamic principles on which Islamic Relief was founded, but also because of its importance when it comes to poverty reduction.
Islamic Relief considers environmental sustainability to be crucial to its work because the environment is intimately linked with poverty. A majority of the world’s poor depend on environmental goods and services for their sustenance and livelihoods. Many poor people in developing countries also live in ecologically vulnerable environments. These together make the poor the most exposed to environmental changes while at the same time making poverty a key driving force behind unsustainable use of environmental resources.
Human-made climate change is happening and it threatens the basic elements of life. For example it is predicted that melting glaciers will initially increase flood risk and then strongly reduce water supplies; declining crop yields, especially in Africa (where over 70% of workers rely on small-scale farming that is dependent on direct rainfall) could result in an additional 80-120 million people at risk of hunger; rising sea levels will result in tens to hundreds of millions more people affected by flooding each year; changing climatic conditions will result in geographic shifts in human diseases; and ocean acidification, a direct result of rising carbon dioxide levels, will have major effects on marine ecosystems, with possible adverse consequences for fish stocks.
Islamic Relief will work towards addressing the challenge of environmental sustainability by increasing understanding of Islamic faith teachings on the subject, implementing measures to responsibly discharge its duty for environmental stewardship, supporting communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change on food security, and assisting them to build resilience to climate-related disasters.
Promoting responsible environmental stewardship is an important principle in Islamic teachings and traditions. Many verses in Qur’an and several sayings of the Prophet Muhammad indicate the great importance that has been given to environmental concerns and the responsibility of man to the environment. An important principle that the Holy Qur’an enunciates prescribes humanity’s relationship to the environment through the appointment of humans as custodians (khulafaa) of creation. Therefore the responsible stewardship of the environment is a sacred trust (amana) bestowed on humanity by Allah.
In addition to dedicated work on climate change, Islamic Relief’s work in this area consists of developing and updating its own internal policy on the environment together with strategies for integrating environmental concerns into its programmes and projects. We also work in partnership with like-minded organisations to develop e-learning modules on Islam and the environment.
Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) have shown that the vulnerabilities of poor people to disasters and other risks will be compounded by climate change and that strategies aimed at disaster risk reduction (DRR) and building the resilience of communities need to incorporate components of climate change adaptation. In the context of building resilience to disasters, climate change adaptation involves an analysis of the vulnerability of communities to current climatic hazards and builds on this to address future uncertainty.
Islamic Relief is developing its global framework for assisting communities to become more resilient to disasters. The framework aims to closely link disaster risk reduction with climate change adaptation. This framework will form the basis for its partners and country offices to develop their own national strategies. Since this is a new area of work for our organisation, we will pay particular attention to building our own capacity across the various parts of IR. We are increasing our efforts in this area so as to achieve sustained improvements in peoples’ lives and the resilience of communities.