Climate Change: External Aid agencies “sidelining God”

climate change

An Australian academic has suggested that one reason for the failure interventions for climate change adaptation in Pacific Island communities by external aid agencies is the wholly secular nature of their messages.

Patrick D Nunn is Professor of Geography at the Australian Centre for Pacific Island Research  and Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast.

He says that well intentioned outside agencies, including those of Australia and the European Union who are trying to help the people of the region adapt to the effects of climate change have not taken into account the overwhelming influence of “spirituality on the way people live in the Pacific”

“Over some 30 years, most such interventions have failed, proving neither effective nor sustainable. The answer to the question “why” may in part lie in the sidelining of God.”

“My research suggests that one reason for the failure of external interventions for climate change adaptation in Pacific Island communities is the wholly secular nature of their messages.”

“Among spiritually engaged communities, these secular messages can be met with indifference or even hostility if they clash with the community’s spiritual agenda.”

Nunn points out that after the Moana Declaration  was issued by the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) in 2009 the PCC set up a climate change unit and drove initiatives to put climate change into Sabbath sermons.

“But more needs to be done. My ongoing research, including projects with the PCC and the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research, suggests that this lack of effective engagement with the religious community is still a key failing,” he says.

In 2016 the Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, meeting in Noumea, expressed concern about climate change saying:

Of particular concern to us are rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and unusual rainfall patterns. These are affecting many of our communities in a harmful way. In some cases, entire regions and nations are under threat from the indisputable fact of rising sea levels.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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