Saturday, July 16, 2011

New SAFCEI website and blog

SAFCEI (the Southern African Faith Communities' Environmental Institute) now has a new web site and blog.

This blog is therefore redundant and will no longer be updated.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


AGM of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011, 7 pm

Diakonia Centre , 20 Diakonia Avenue, Durban. (: 031 310 3500

Theme: Global climate talks 2011 (COP17) in Durban – so what?

(Speaker to be confirmed)

All interested people of any faith are most welcome to come along and hear what the faith communities are doing – and should be doing – at congregational, regional, national and international levels as we seek eco-justice: economic and environmental justice.

Please join us before the meeting for a light finger supper at 18h00.
RSVP for catering purposes to: or
(: 021-701 8145

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Havana’s lessons in green living

Though Havana is a filthy city, the author finds many lessons in green living.

Havana’s lessons in green living:
3. Almost everything can be repurposed.

During my first Cuba trip, I watched my mother-in-law wash and reuse disposable grocery bags until the “nylons,” as she calls them, were worn out. I returned home with an obsession: everything could be repurposed. A rubber band, a plastic shopping bag, the newspaper: nothing should be wasted.

Though I’ve controlled the obsession (partly by becoming conscious of what I consume in the first place), each subsequent trip to Havana has made me realize just how much we could upcycle if we really wanted to try our hand at repurposing objects that have outlived their original use.

Among the things that have been repurposed here as flowerpots is a construction helmet, and various other objects

Hat-tip to Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe: Havana’s lessons in green living.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mapping Human Vulnerability to Climate Change � GIS and Science

Mapping Human Vulnerability to Climate Change | GIS and Science: "First global map suggests climate change will have greatest impact 
on the populations least responsible for causing the problem

Researchers already study how various species of plants and animals migrate in response to climate change. Now, Jason Samson, a PhD candidate in McGill University’s Department of Natural Resource Sciences, has taken the innovative step of using the same analytic tools to measure the impact of climate change on human populations. Samson and fellow researchers combined climate change data with censuses covering close to 97 per-cent of the world’s population in order to forecast potential changes in local populations for 2050."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wanted: Operations Manager: SAFCEI

Wanted: Operations Manager: SAFCEI

SAFCEI is looking for an Operations Manager to join its head office team at Westlake, Cape Town. The Operations Manager will report to the Executive Director. Please download the job description for an outline of the roles and responsibilities of this new post.

The main purpose of this position is to build and run SAFCEI as an organisation that provides maximum support to its programmatic work and achieves its objectives.

Key performance areas include financial management, HR, logistics and operations, administration, fundraising, membership, and monitoring and evaluation.

A broad range of competencies is required, including:

· knowledge and experience of people management, administration, resource management, managing an organisation’s finances, budgeting and strategic planning;

· knowledge of relevant legislation and HR processes;

· people skills, report-writing and communication skills and basic OD skills;

· ability to grow people and support their development.

Experience of fundraising and M&E will be advantageous.

The person appointed to this post should have a university degree, a post-matric financial qualification, and 5 years’ middle-senior management experience. S/he will need to be a strategic thinker, innovative, a team player and willing to do whatever needs to be done!

SAFCEI is a multi-faith organisation and operates from the perspective of faith and the principles upheld by all faiths. It would therefore be appropriate if the applicant is a person of faith.

The salary is negotiable depending on experience and qualifications.

To apply, please send an up-to-date CV with a letter of motivation and the names and contact details of three referees to by the end of Sunday 27 March. (No copies of certificates etc are needed at this stage.)

We will acknowledge receipt of all applications, but please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted beyond that.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


A major focus of SAFCEI's work in 2010 will be raising awareness and understanding of the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Durban in December.

We should not think that these conferences, left to themselves, will save us from deadly global warming. In Cancun, Mexico, in December, the world's representatives applauded a deal that in fact leaves Southern Africa on track for lethal warming within the next 50 years.

So it is vital that we in Southern Africa work to get our own house in order, by absolutely rejecting further expansion of coal power, and ensuring that South Africa's new national electricity plan (the IRP 2010) is truly progressive. Warning signs are accelerating:unprecedented floods in Queensland, Australia as this is written; also last year, 16% of hard corals around the world were destroyed by ocean acidification, caused by the increased amounts of carbon dioxide absorbed by sea water.

SAFCEI working with South African civil society, is planning two conferences of African faith leaders and a possible end-of-year summit of world faith leaders. Our aim is to mobilise faith leaders and communities across Africa to increase the pressure on our governments to act decisively.

What do we do locally? Our latest Eco-Congregations News, hot off the press, is available on the SAFCEI website (pdf).

We should not fall into the trap of thinking that the picture is entirely bleak (articles from UNEP's Achim Steiner and New Scientist give hope). Around the world, people are beginning to make extraordinary efforts to reverse climate change and other ecological catastrophes. On our own continent, Ethiopia is planning to be carbon neutral by 2025.

But technology alone will not save us. We need to find the compassion and courage to take responsibility for the suffering that is already being visited on people far away from us, often poor and indigenous people, as a consequence of our all too often wasteful and excessive consumption.

Urgent action is needed: please read's Bill McKibben, who makes a call for civil disobedience on climate change, here:

"Having been given this earth to keep and protect—dominion over a living planet—we're on the verge of wiping away much of creation. In the process we're already making life impossible for millions of our poorest brothers and sisters. This is ... a kind of blasphemy. Global warming shouldn't be a moral question, but because of our inaction it's become the greatest moral challenge of our time."

Theological reflection

From Daisaku Ikeda, leader of the international lay Buddhist organisation, Soka Gakkai International:

If we pay careful attention to the particular characteristics present in even a tiny patch of land, observing and analyzing them within the processes of living there, we can develop the ability to grasp the characteristics of the entire country or even the world.

[The 1930s Japanese lay Buddhist leader Tsunesaburo] Makiguchi introduces the following story about the early Edo-period politician Doi Toshikatsu (1573-1644) to illustrate how the extension and expansion of our awareness can lead from and be based on concrete examples. One day, Doi picked up a discarded scrap of Chinese silk and handed it to one of his samurai retainers. Many laughed at this seemingly insignificant gesture. Several years later, when Doi asked the samurai about the piece of silk, he produced it, having carefully stored it. Doi praised the samurai and increased his annual stipend by 300 koku (the standard unit of wealth in Japan at the time). Doi then explained his actions:

"This fabric was produced by Chinese farmers who plucked mulberry leaves to raise silkworms and spin thread. It came into the hands of Chinese traders, crossed over the great distance of sea to reach Japan, passed through the hands of the people of Nagasaki, was purchased by merchants in Kyoto or Osaka, and finally reached Edo [present-day Tokyo]. One cannot but be struck by the enormous human effort by which it reached us, and thus to discard it as a worthless scrap is a fearful thing inviting the rebuke of heaven.""

To empathetically connect, through a scrap of fabric, with the lives of farmers working in mulberry fields in distant China – this is precisely what I am referring to as inner universality.

In other words, rather than making the great leap to the vast and complex phenomena of life, we should start from the concrete realities of the tiny patch of land where we are now. It is only by paying relentless attention to those realities that we can freely direct our thoughts and associations to the larger dimension. If we develop such fresh and vital imagination, a keen sensitivity to daily life and to life itself, we will be able to experience not only close friends but even the inhabitants of distant lands whom we have never met – and even the cultures and products of those lands – as neighbors.

For a person who has developed these capacities, war, which ravages the land and lays waste to life, is something only to be abhorred.

We will offer reflections from different faith traditions on environmental responsibility in all future newsletters. Your suggestions are welcome.

Other news

Our latest Eco-congregations News, hot off the press, is available on the SAFCEI website (pdf).

• For Capetonians: We invite you to see the movie Carbon Nation, a documentary about climate change solutions, that will be screened at the Labia on Orange cinema on Saturday 15 January (6:15 pm), on Sunday 16 January (6:15 pm), and on Monday 17 January (8:30 pm). “Even if you doubt the severity of the impact of climate change or just don’t buy it at all, this is a compelling and relevant film that illustrates how solutions to climate change also address other social, economic and security issues.”

We urge SAFCEI members and supporters to organise screenings of this film in other regions.

• An Avaaz petition that is currently doing the rounds – and which we are supporting – is against insecticides that appear to be (partly) responsible for the dwindling of bee populations globally. Please consider joining us and adding your voice!

SAFCEI people

A bit of news related to our Management Committee (Manco) is that the Orthodox Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Metropolitan Seraphim Kykkotis – a member of our Manco – has been appointed as ecumenical representative of the Patriarchate of Alexandria on various bodies, including the World Council of Churches (WCC), All-Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations. Because these duties will require him to travel a great deal, he has been transferred to the smaller Archdiocese of Zimbabwe. We congratulate Archbishop Seraphim on this appointment and are pleased that he is able nevertheless to continue serving on Manco.

Membership renewals

Our members may have noticed that we have not been sending out membership renewal reminders these past few months. We are changing our system so that memberships will be linked to the calendar year rather than to the anniversary of your joining. This is a much simpler and more manageable system. We will therefore be sending out membership/renewal notices to everyone soon for 2011.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

SA a major global polluter - Environment - IOL

SA a major global polluter - Environment - IOL: "South Africa is the world’s 13th biggest emitter of greenhouse gases that are causing human-induced global climate change, Parliament’s portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs has heard.

Dr Peter Johnston, of UCT’s Climate Analysis Group, told the committee this week that China had recently overtaken the US as the world leader in greenhouse gas emissions.

But on a per capita basis, which was more meaningful at the level of political decision-making, South Africa was in 10th place – well ahead of China, which came in 16th, and behind Australia at No 1 and the US second."
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