The role of the Catholic Church in promoting sustainable development and responding to environmental challenges will be the focus of the 27th annual gathering of more than 300 Justice and Peace activists from around England and Wales on July 8-10. The Conference, organised by the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham in collaboration with the National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN), will take place in Derbyshire under the title: We are Stewards of Creation. Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham and Bishop Kieron Conry of Arundel and Brighton of the Bishops' Conference will attend. It will be the first NJPN conference to focus on the environment. Keynote speakers include: Sean McDonagh SSC - A Columban missionary priest who was based in the Philippines for more than twenty years and who now writes and lectures on the relationship of faith and ecological issues. "You cannot work for Justice and Peace and not be concerned about the environment" he will tell the conference. He feels Climate Change is "the biggest issue facing agriculture over the next 50 years", but is also involved in lobbying the Vatican not to endorse genetically modified seeds as a solution to world hunger. Ed Echlin - An ecological theologian and author of Earth Spirituality: Jesus at the Centre and Cosmic Circle: Jesus and Ecology. He is an active member of Christian Ecology Link and a regular contributor to journals and periodicals. Andres Tamayo - A priest and environmentalist from Honduras, who directs the Environmental Movement of Olancho, a coalition of farmers and other Olancho residents dedicated to stopping deforestation. He has led thousands of people on two week-long marches to the nation's capital, drawing national and international attention to the problems caused by unregulated logging. JoJi Carino - An Ibaloi indigenous from the mountains of northern Philippines. She has more than 30 years of activism on indigenous rights. Joji was a member of the 12-strong World Commission on Dams and has a special expertise on Water. She was the first indigenous person ever to address the UN general assembly and has written numerous papers including one on Mining and Indigenous Peoples for the UNHCHR. Other speakers from the South include Fernando Mudai, a Subanon indigenous from the Southern Philippines who lobbies against large scale mining on tribal lands in Mindanao, Mulima Kufekisa Akapelwa, Chair of the Justice and Peace Commission in Zambia who will link Trade and Environment, Eugenio Lemos from East Timor who has been involved in environmental projects to rebuild that country after decades of violence. Both will have been addressing MakePovertyHistory events in Edinburgh on the previous weekend. Representatives of British-based groups such as Christian Ecology Link will also be speaking and running more than 14 workshops. Practical lifestyle ideas, information about environmental initiatives, and examination of Creation Theology aim to prompt participants to become better stewards of creation. VIDEO LAUNCH "Creating a Climate of Justice" is a new campaign video on Climate Change to be launched at the conference. 'Creating a climate of justice' is produced by Operation Noah, the ecumenical climate change campaign. It features Catholic theologian Mary Grey, Anglican Bishop John Oliver and Sir John Houghton, one of the world's foremost climatologists. They invite Christians to sign a Climate Covenant calling for a global solution to climate change, cut their own greenhouse gas emissions, and spread the word about what people can do with Operation Noah. Jonathon Porritt, the Government's sustainable development advisor, said he was "delighted that churches are rallying to the challenge of Operation Noah; it makes us stop and think what we are doing to the earth, and dares us to live by a new set of values". Operation Noah is a project of the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, and Christian Ecology Link. For more details visit www.christian-ecology.org.uk/noah. 'Creating a Climate of Justice' can be borrowed free of charge by calling 0845 223 5399.
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