The fifth of June is the World Environment Day, and societies worldwide have been celebrating it since its establishment in 1972. This day presents a common basic vision on how to meet the challenge of preserving and enhancing the human environment under the supervision of the United Nations.
A World Environment Day 2021 Consultation will take place in Pakistan and will have as theme the "Ecosystem Restoration" as it corresponds with the year of the Corona pandemic challenge and its defeat. This day will also witness the launch of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. As the United Nations website tells us, ecosystem restoration can take many forms: planting trees, greening cities, rebuilding parks, changing diets, or cleaning up rivers and coasts.
What is the role of the Church in this regard, and what role will the ecumenical movement and the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) play?
A group of leading Ecumenical organizations has issued a specialized booklet that includes a set of environmental activities titled, "Season of Creation" - Guide to Celebration for 2021 - A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God. Oikos is an ancient Greek word meaning community or "family, family property and home". The word Oikos here means 'The House of God'.
The MECC is actually translating this booklet into Arabic as a guide to activities it plans to carry out during the period termed “The Season of Creation”. These activities will be implemented from the first of September to the fourth of October and will include prayers, meditations and seminars that aim at raising environmental awareness for a better tomorrow for future generations.
As for the partners in these activities, they are the churches with their parishes and institutions, in addition to civil society institutions that are interested in participating in this venture.
Forasmuch as secular institutions are concerned with preserving the environment, then the Church is a fortiori concerned with preserving the gift of the Creator for a better tomorrow for creation.
The MECC will circulate the booklet as soon as it becomes available, and by various means and channels, in order for it to be accessible to all and to serve as a working guide for all.
Parallel to these environmental activities, the MECC is preparing to launch several agricultural projects in a number of agricultural fields and this in the various geographical areas where its field teams are present. This endeavor is based on its deep conviction that agricultural growth and rural development are keys to reforming socio-economic life that has witnessed serious mutations in the countries of the Levant. Such anomalies have led to massive rural exodus as well as to external migration, turning the demographic, economic, social, and cultural equilibrium upside down, causing severe damage to the environment, accelerating the process of desertification, and affecting food security.
Environmental protection and agricultural-rural development constitute a major challenge for the MECC, it has thereby taken this challenge seriously. It relies on the cooperation of Church- related institutions as well as civil society organizations to respond to this challenge, as its repercussions will affect the entire society and may be irreversible if prolonged and widespread.