Abstract

abstract:

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Faith for Earth initiative calls for religiously inspired social action on local and global levels, focused on the seventeen interdependent sustainable development goals toward a just and peaceful world. Environmental justice must include an intersectional human rights approach to these issues by addressing the multiple and intersecting nature of lived experience, including gender, race, and socioeconomic status. My paper takes as its point of departure the UNEP Faith for Earth's recognition that environmental conditions have different impacts on the lives of men and women due to existing gender inequality. As both UN and UN Women have confirmed in their reports, women disproportionately suffer the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, especially in the global South. Environmental justice must address the critical link between environmental problems, and the rights of women and girls. Sustainable Development Goal five on gender equality includes addressing violence against women, sexual health and reproductive rights, and peace and security. I discuss how faith-based initiatives, specifically Buddhist and African Indigenous Christian, have a positive role in grassroots environmental justice in the global South. My discussion includes the work of African Indigenous Christian, Nobel Laureate, and founder of the Greenbelt Movement, Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai, and the Theravada Thai lay Buddhist teacher and founder of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, Sulak Sivaraksa. Their faith-based grassroots initiatives for environmental justice anticipate and are exemplary models for the UNEP Faith for Earth call to action. They emphasize a 'think global, act local' approach to environmental justice, by drawing on the wisdom and teachings of the people. I focus specifically on how religion has a critical role in these faith-based initiatives.

pdf