‘Making a World of Difference’ at COP28

There were many ‘firsts’ at the recent UN Climate Conference, COP28. It was the first time that the burning of fossil fuels was officially acknowledged as the key cause and driver of climate change. There was a new Health Day and a sustainable fashion show. We especially applauded the first ever Faith Pavilion, which mobilised people of faith to ‘catalyse more ambitious, effective, holistic and just climate action.’  

Towards the end of the conference, Renew Our World and A Rocha International’s Head of Theology, Dave Bookless, launched their short book, Making a World of Difference, at the event ‘Religious Resistance to Climate Action’ in the Faith Pavilion. This is by no means the first faith-based book on caring for the planet, but despite decades of campaigning, many faith communities remain resistant to climate action. This little book was especially designed to equip global church leaders to respond to the climate and biodiversity crisis. In Dave’s words, ‘If you study God’s word and love your neighbour you’ll want to “Make a World of Difference” for Jesus’ sake. This book tells you why, shows you how and gives you hope.’  

As the only global Christian organization working specifically in biodiversity conservation, A Rocha offered a unique perspective, both in and outside of the Faith Pavilion. A Rocha Ghana’s National Director, Seth Appiah-Kubi spoke at the event, ‘Faith and Nature: Partners in Landscape Restoration and Nature-based Solutions’. Alongside a fantastic panel, Seth described how A Rocha Ghana collaborates with local communities around forests and savannahs to mitigate climate change, restore biodiversity and support sustainable livelihoods. Daryl Bosu, also from A Rocha Ghana, championed nature-based solutions in an event hosted by the IUCN; later, he showcased an initiative to protect shea parklands across West Africa at the Pavilion of the Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet. 

We leave COP28 encouraged and hopeful that Christians will rise to the challenge of tackling climate change while halting and reversing biodiversity loss. Read Making a World of Difference below to learn how and why you should take action to care for God’s creation. 


From Pulpit to Plowshare

While studying for a degree in Agribusiness Management, Vincent discovered a passion for discipleship and ministry and assumed he would be leaving agriculture behind. He writes, ‘I thought ministry was only about the pulpit.’  

His younger self would have been surprised to discover he now leads A Rocha Kenya’s Farming God’s Way programme. This agricultural approach focuses on increased food production for humans as well as the well-being of the whole ecosystem. The soil is undisturbed (zero tillage), its surface is covered with dead leaves and other biodegrading matter (mulching) and a diversity of species is encouraged through crop rotation. Farming God’s Way takes its inspiration from biblical principles. Those teaching it in Africa say the greatest cause of hunger is waiting for the rains to come before planting. Farming God’s Way takes into account the many rhythms God wove into creation – day and night, seasons and lifespans: everything done in its proper time.  

Working with churches, Vincent and his team teach Farming God’s Way to empower community members, often living in conditions of real hardship, to be able to obtain better productivity from their farms, and in so doing to respect and care for the rest of God’s creation around them. 

Over time, Vincent says, ‘I have come to see ministry differently. A Rocha Kenya’s mission statement captures in lucid terms what I’m being shaped to walk – “People transformed; nature conserved.”’ 


Growing Together

St Peter’s Anglican Church in Gonville Whanganui, Aotearoa New Zealand, is creating space in their front garden for a whole lot of connecting and growing. St Peter’s Garden is more than just a garden – it is a space where the community can connect, make friends, grow vegetables and play chess! Reverends Luca and Sam Tovey Duckworth say, ‘The community garden is a great place of intersection for people who wouldn’t normally make a Sunday gathering. It’s been cool seeing people take ownership and start to have their own ideas about what can happen in this space.’ 

St Peter’s is just one of the many churches engaged in A Rocha Aotearoa NZ’s burgeoning Eco Church Programme. Church communities across Aotearoa NZ are taking a more active role in caring for God’s creation. Collectively their actions are resulting in a measurable reduction in waste, carbon, pollution and energy use, leading to more sustainable ways of living that restore and enhance the natural world while connecting people to the Creator.

Find out more about Eco Church in Aotearoa NZ here