Interreligious commitment to climate protection in Ghana: Relbonet

Peace Award 2015: Shortlist

Members planting trees in Peki

Members planting trees in Peki

The effects of climate change are already distinctly noticeable in Ghana. Christians, Muslims and representatives of traditional religions join efforts in campaigning for people to adopt a careful approach to nature through awareness raising and environmental protection projects.

In a tropical country like Ghana, people are very familiar with the phenomenon of alternating rainy and dry seasons. However, the extreme weather conditions have become much more severe over the past few years. Periods of drought last for longer and heavy rainfall leads to more frequent flooding. For the people living in this West African country, the consequences of climate change trigger feelings of uncertainty and fear, perplexity and helplessness. 
This is where the organisation called Relbonet comes in. Relbonet ("Religious Bodies Network on Climate Change") is a cooperation of representatives from Christian churches, Muslim associations and traditional natural religions in Ghana. Charles Agboklu from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church began the initiative, and since 2010, they have joined forces to prepare the people in Ghana for the consequences of climate change and to set up concrete environmental protection projects.

Many heavens – one earth

Relbonet: Climate protection taught at a Muslim schoolThe religious representatives work together with great trust, united under the motto "Many heavens – one earth". They inform their fellow countrymen of the consequences of climate change and together they make concrete plans to prepare for the meteorological changes that will face them there.
In doing so, they repeatedly rely on collective activities with the local population. For example, together with inhabitants from the north of Ghana, they planted more than 20,000 saplings within two years, as one way of reducing the impact of climate change. In addition to the long-term practical benefits, such actions also have an immediate social effect: Working together on one project encourages contacts, mutual trust and the feeling of not being totally at the mercy of the consequences of climate change. 

Demanding climate justice

Relbonet organizes a climate conference At the same time, Relbonet carries out intensive political lobbying for climate protection and seeks close cooperation with state institutions. In this way, the religious representatives support the Ghanaian government in their efforts to formulate a climate policy for their own country and for the whole of Africa, as well as demanding more climate justice at an international level.

The representatives of Relbonet use their collective activities to demonstrate that peace between different religious communities is not merely an abstract ideal, but one which can collectively and practically be put into action. This also makes Relbonet´s work into a sign of hope beyond Ghana.