Today marks the United Nation’s observance of the International day for Preventing Exploitation of the Environment in War and Conflict. Yet a common understanding of war seldom accounts for the negative consequences conflict has on the environment.
Conversely, many of those vulnerable communities experiencing the brunt of climate change are inadvertently, yet simultaneously, suffering from conflict and crisis. This ‘double burden’ exacerbates both the unequal and undeserved burden placed on already defenceless societies.
The first environmental factor that may be recognised is that of the exploitation of natural resources. Civil war in Sierra Leone elicited the abuse of minerals such as diamonds and gold.
Furthermore, the sheer wealth of natural resources in the Global South’s unstable regions fuels conflict itself. Environmental exploitation in Congo acted as a catalyst to civil war through the illegal extraction of almost every natural resource the world has to offer.
The former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recalled that “since 1990, at least 18 violent conflicts have been fuelled by the exploitation of natural resources such as timber, minerals, oil and gas”.
Exploitation of the environment in conflict takes precedence in many different forms. Be it the burning of forests, the poaching of innocent animals, or the maltreatment of biodiversity. As the ecological cycle is abused, the consequence of human suffering intensifies.
Muslim communities and organisations within the UK are raising awareness and actively challenging the disregard of the climate and environment plaguing our society, both in times of peace and war.
Muslim Climate Action hosts an array of Muslim organisations, charities and communities that concentrate their efforts toward a more sustainable, respectful and mindful utilisation of our environment, both on our home turf and abroad.
“Allah in His Mercy has placed an amanat (trust) upon all of humanity to safeguard and nurture His creation. He has appointed humanity as guardians of His creation: “I am going to place in the earth a khalifa (steward)” [Quran 2:30].”
“This means we have a responsibility to take seriously the issue of climate change. We must preserve the mizan (balance) Allah has created of the natural habitats and ecosystems, forests, seas and wildlife, of this world for our children and future generations.”
Video courtesy of Muslim Climate Action
The urgency of addressing environmental exploitation is paramount. The ever-increasing conflicts ravaging many resource rich yet fragile communities must act as a catalyst to further our endeavour to preserve the intricate ecological and biological balance of the earth.
Cop23, the international annual climate change conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change begins today. Bonn will host this year’s 11 day summit; endeavouring to review existing climate change policy, adapt and implement these agreements to better serve and further our vision toward sustainable development.
Islamic Relief have formulated a brief, yet insightful, guide to Cop23, also outlining the Quranic and Prophetic emphasis on sustaining and caring for our environment.
As our governments convene to tackle climate change, we must act in favour of our Earth with agency. We must challenge the corporate undertone that dictates much of our environmental policy. We must take action today, for tomorrow is already too late.
The violation of our environment amounts to transgressions of our human rights. As Muslims it is our obligation. As humans it is our responsibility.