Select Page

We hosted our first Policy Conference in ten years, from 5th to 7th November 2019 at eMseni Christian Centre in Benoni, South Africa, marking ten years since our last policy conference.

Entitled “A New Vision for Sacred Life and Living Earth”, the conference brought together many faiths thought leaders and activists from communities across Southern Africa.  

In this rapidly changing world, there is growing urgency for faith communities to provide leadership in upholding values and principles that restore and sustain the Earth community in all its fullness.

On the final day we reached consensus on a call to action on six themes in the Johannesburg declaration. Participants worked from six discussion papers. We hope you will share these widely among your faith communities and with anyone interested. We want to encourage wider engagement on the most pressing eco-justice issues of our time, and to inspire more committed action.

Read more about the Policy Conference below, you can find out about the conference, our speakers and read the inspirational Keynote Speech from Professor Tinyiko Malueleke.

View the Policy Conference concept note here.



Planetary Boundaries and Biodiversity Loss

Our modern way of living is destroying the rich tapestry of creation. Ecosystems, and the plants, animals and micro-organisms that they support, are being devastated by human activity including deforestation, industrial agriculture, urban expansion, manufacturing processes, pollution and waste. In 2019, the United Nations warned that we risk losing almost 1 million species within decades[1] if we don’t start to live in harmony with nature. Scientists warn that we need to stay within nine “ecological boundaries” to sustain the stability of the Earth system, but we have already crossed the biosphere integrity boundary (biodiversity health). Some are calling this the sixth extinction crisis.[2] Biodiversity loss has significant implications for our ability to survive on Earth, particularly for those who have contributed the least towards this destruction. Yet they will suffer disproportionately. 

As people of faith, the breaching of this boundary demonstrates a disregard for the covenant we have with all living things, and for the Earth, our shared, sacred home. 

View the full discussion paper here. 

Consumerism and Waste   

Modern human society consumes far more resources than we need, or that the Earth is able to produce in a sustainable way.[1] Economies are under pressure to grow their gross domestic product and companies are mandated to provide growing returns on investment to their shareholders. This means producing and encouraging the consumption of more and more goods. Consumerism is linked to the achievement of social aspirations, but at a devastating cost to human and planetary wellbeing. Products, and their packaging, are often quickly discarded, polluting the planet. Consumerism corrupts personal values and destroys relationships within and between human communities and with the living world that sustains us.

The desire for more material possessions is at odds with the teachings of all faiths. Unchecked consumerism transgresses and contradicts the spiritual ethos of living simply and within our means; it also creates an unequal and unjust society.  

View the full discussion paper here. 

Energy and Climate Justice 

The lack of access to electricity is “the most pressing obstacle to economic growth, more important than access to finance, red tape or corruption”, according to the International Energy Agency. How energy is generated, who has access to it, and how it is governed has been a source of conflict ever since the industrial revolution. The mining and drilling for fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil are also highly destructive to the environment. Their use releases many gigatons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, driving climate change – an ecological injustice. Nuclear energy is not a safe or sustainable alternative. More than 635 million people in Africa – about half the population –  still do not have access to electricity. This stops them furthering their own development – a social injustice. Access to renewable wind and sun could provide us with the affordable  energy that we need.  

Faith communities around the world have recognised that burning fossil fuels could have catastrophic consequences for our common home and the Earth community. 

View the full discussion paper here. 

Food and Climate Justice 

Climate change is making life more difficult for everyone, but it will unjustly impact those who have contributed least towards it, especially people living in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Industrial and factory farming of crops and animals is contributing to climate change and destroying biodiversity. Climate change is starting to and will increasingly affect the ability of both commercial and smallholder farmers to grow food. The result will be less food in the market, which will drive prices up making it even more unaffordable for the most vulnerable in society. This will deepen the food and nutrition crisis in southern Africa. 

When we destroy the natural resource base and related knowledge systems, we run the risk of disrupting the fabric of our society and irrevocably damaging the Earth’s life support systems. Food customs and practices are deeply embedded in communities, linked to faith traditions and cultural identity. 

View the full discussion paper here. 

Land and Water Justice 

The Earth was created as a home for all living creatures. None can survive let alone thrive without healthy ecosystems that provide clean air and water, support healthy soil formation, and a resilient and diverse community of life. Land should be “a gift for all, not a commodity for a few”.[1] But access to land and water resources is increasingly  unequal. Communal land and water assets are being privatised, the number of corrupt land grabs is growing and people are being dispossessed and denied access to these resources, which they need for survival and livelihoods. 

Pressure on these vital resources is set to grow and we have a moral responsibility to care of our commons. We need a justice approach to issues of land and water that embodies equitable, inclusive and restorative decision making on the allocation and management of resources. 

View the full discussion paper here.

Animal Justice 

All animals are members of the sacred living Earth community, free to engage in their natural behaviour and deserving of compassionate treatment. Current levels of abuse experienced by wild, farmed, working and companion animals contradict these principles. This is partly because modern society has become disconnected from nature and the industrial food system views animals as marketable items for sale. Inhumane treatment includes wild animals kept captive or hunted for entertainment purposes; working animals being mistreated and abused; factory-farmed animals being kept in cruel confinement (notably chickens and pigs) or used for laboratory experiments; and domestic animals being starved, beaten or ignored.   

People of faith have a responsibility to ensure justice for the community of creatures with whom we share the Earth. They cannot speak or achieve justice for themselves.  

View the full discussion paper here.



Click here to view the conference declaration.



Prof Tinyiko Maluleke

Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria   
Senior Research Fellow at the UP Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship                                       
Click here to view Prof Tinyiko Maluleke’s keynote address

Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya
Anglican Diocese of Swaziland

Rev Shaun Cozett
Anglican Diocese of Cape Town

Rev Glynis Goyns
Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa

Graham Philpott
Director, Church Land Programme

Makoma Lekalakala
Director, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg

Marshall Rinquest
Director, Greyton Transition Town

Frances Davies
Coordinator, Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity

Tozie Zokufa
Executive Director, A Greener World

Francesca de Gasparis
Executive Director, SAFCEI


Day 1 - Tuesday 5 November 2019


2 – 5 pm Registration and refreshments
5:30 – 6:15 pm Start of the Conference: Opening worship
6:15 – 7:00 pm

Welcome by Ms Francesca de Gasparis, SAFCEI Executive Director. Opening address by Rev Shaun Cozett, SAFCEI Board Director.

7:00 to 8:00 pm Welcome and Celebratory dinner
Day 2 - Wednesday 6 November 2019


6-7 am Prayer & worship (optional)
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast 
8:15- 8:35 am Opening prayers
8:35 – 9:00 am Welcome and Rationale for the conference: Francesca de Gasparis 
9:00- 9:40 am Keynote address: A New Vision for Sacred Life and Living Earth: Navigating our way into the 21st Century – Exploring a new narrative: Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, University of Pretoria
10:00-10:30 am Summary of the six conference themes
10:30 – 11:00 am Tea
11:00 am -12:45 pm

Breakaway Sessions (choose one): 

  • Energy and Climate Justice 
  • Animal Justice 
  • Land and Water Justice
12:45 – 13:45 pm Lunch
13:45 – 3:30 pm

Breakaway Sessions (choose one): 

  • Planetary Boundaries and Biodiversity
  • Food and Climate Justice
  • Consumerism and Waste
3:30 – 4:00 pm Tea
4 – 5 pm Plenary: report back from groups
5 – 6 pm Break
6 – 7 pm Dinner
7 – 8 pm 

Informal network spaces, market place

Group work by drafting committee

Day 3 - Thursday 7 November 2019


6-7 am Prayer & worship (optional) 
6:30 – 8:00 am Breakfast
08:00 – 8:15 am Opening prayers
8:30  – 09:00 am Plenary – Short reflection on progress so far.
09:00 – 11:00 am

Final group session report backs


11:00 – 11:15 Group photograph
11:15 – 11:45 Tea
11:45 am – 12:30 pm

Closing Plenary – Reflection on emerging Sacred Life and Living Earth narrative. 

Conference evaluation

12:30 – 1:00 pm Closing ceremony and commitments
01:00 – 02:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm  End


Click here to download the full programme.


For event information, contact us at

Follow the hashtag #EarthKeeper on our social media platforms.


eMseni Christian Centre

61 Rd 5, Brentwood Park AH, Benoni, 1501

Print Friendly, PDF & Email