book_launch_poster

If you’re in Singapore on the 8 February 2014, do come for the Launch of Faith & Nature: An Eco-Guide to Greening Faith Communities. This eco-guide is a must have to equip faith and community organisations with the necessary tools on how to operationalise environmental ethics and principles. The event will also have an inter-faith panel discussion on how various faith communities can do their part in increasing environmental awareness and action. Best part, the book is freely available to all  🙂

Interested participants are kindly requested to register as shown in the poster above.

For more information and to download your free copy of the Eco-Guide, please click here.

It was barely a couple of weeks ago when I first heard about FiTree and their plans to organise a couple of Green Iftars during the month of RamaFiTree Posterdan  — on the 15th and 27th July 2013. “OH YES!!! Finally, more Singapore Muslims are actively thinking and doing their bit for the environment.”

Green Iftars may be seen as a novelty in Singapore, but is nevertheless part of a steady trend amongst environmentally-conscious Muslims worldwide attempting to operationalise and mainstream environmental practices in their communities, based on Islamic principles related to the environment.  Last year, a few of us did our own small-scale green iftar.

FiTree’s efforts are commendable given the fact that they’ve recieved great support from Masjid Darul Aman to organise the iftar. In addition to being given the liberty to put up posters and set up their booths virtually anywhere around the mosque, Masjid Darul Aman has also supported FiTree introducing the use of biodegradable cutlery for the event.

Fellow Project ME-er, Ibrahim, and myself rocked up at Masjid Darul Iman at about 6pm. FiTree folks were busy putting the final touches to their posters and two booths – one on the men’s side and another on the women’s side of the mosque. In addition to giving out free bookmarks with various Quranic verses on the environment printed on them, FiTree folks also selling cute little badges for 2 bucks. A tazkirah (sermon) on the importance of the environment in Islam was also delivered prior to the breaking of fast.

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Take a tip!

After breaking fast and Maghrib prayers, Project ME-ers and some members of FiTree had a chat on how the evening went and other broader issues related to Islamic environmentalism. Given that it was the first Green Iftar in a mosque, it was interesting to observe the responses of the congregation. Speaking in Malay was clearly an important factor in relaying the message, particularly to the older men and women in the mosque, and it was great that the FiTree bookmarks had both English and Malay translations of the Quranic verses. Another interesting response from several makciks when given the bookmarks was Do I have to pay for this?”, to which we responded “No Aunty, it’s free”. A few of them placed their new bookmarks in between the pages of their qurans and Islamic books.

This has certainly been a good start for FiTree and part of their learning curve in further advancing FiTree’s efforts to increase envioronmental awareness amongst Muslims. If you would like to participate in their next Green Iftar, do check out their Facebook page.

Makcik buying a FiTree Badge
Makcik buying a FiTree Badge

The logic that some people have just baffles me sometimes.

Take for example, the point made by Genting Group chairman, Mr Lim Kok Thay, regarding a question on the use of wild-caught dolphins for entertainment needs at the Marine Life Park in the newly opened Resorts World Singapore (RWS). In defending RWS’ position on the use of these dolphins, Mr Lim noted that these bottlenose dolphins are “definitely not on the endangered list“.

Well, that’s a relief, but we certainly wouldn’t want to be contributing to their extinction either. Just because an animal isn’t an endangered species, doesn’t give us the right to exploit and cause harm to them. What kind of hypocritical message would be we sending out to the public and especially children, where the supposed concern for dolphin conservation is done by kidnapping dolphins from their natural habitat?

Further analysis of the issue has demonstrated that it is not just dolphins that are being exploited, but also communities. The video below sheds some light on how communities in the Solomon Islands have been affected by the lucrative business of catching wild dolphins.

The controversy over the wild-caught dolphins in RWS has been ongoing for several years now, with the latest incident being the death of one of the dolphins, Wen Wen.  ACRES has been working tirelessly in its “Save the World’s Saddest Dolphins“, which has included a candle vigil for Wen Wen and also contributed to efforts to accuse RWS of violating Philippines law. Even so, much more pressure needs to be put on RWS to genuinely respect the rights of animals and communties, over the love for profit.

If you would like to support the cause, do write in to RWS here.

Here’s an RSIS commentary written by me and my colleague Devin on the prospects of UNFCCC talks in Cancun. Enjoy!

Abstract

Given the dismal results of COP15 in Copenhagen last year, there has been growing pessimism on the prospects of the forthcoming COP16 meeting in Cancun. Governments and civil society should push for a better outcome.

To view the commentary (in pdf format), please click here.

Green Bush Buds. Wow!

Ok, so I didn’t think I’d join Facebook, but I did.

I didn’t think I’d get an iPhone, but I did.

I didn’t think I’d join Twitter, but I did end up being a Twit.

But hey! It ain’t that bad after all.

And thanks to the geniuses behind paper.li, I’ve got my very own newspaper (of sorts).

Presenting GREEN BUSH BUDS –  a compilation of my favourite green news sources, people and organisations (on Twitter) who have something worthy to say about the environment. Check out the occassional youtube videos and pictures that come along with it too.

Some of the notable sources for Green Bush Buds include Green Prophet, World Resources Institute, IUCN, and the Environment/Green sections of notable newspapers such as CNN, the Guardian and Bikya Masr.

And the best part: a subscription function!

So what are u waiting for? Subscribe now! 🙂

A couple of publications that are 3 months dated…. but hey, better late than never!! ;-D

Update on COP 15: States’ Deliberations and Decisions

By Caballero-Anthony, M. Kuntjoro, I.A. & Jamil, S. NTS Alert, January 2010/1, Centre for NTS Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

 Update on COP15: Civil Society Actions and Reactions to COP 15

By Caballero-Anthony, M. Kuntjoro, I.A. & Jamil, S. NTS Alert, January 2010/2, Centre for NTS Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

Ok so clearly there’s been a certain degree of tardiness in my blog postings for the past few months. But hey, what can I say… its been a pretty busy period.

Back on the scene, after submitting my Masters dissertation today – entitled Democracies and Effective Climate Change Mitigation – An Indonesian Case Study. Like any post-graduate course – what more working at the same time – it has been an excruciating experience but nevertheless a big relief off me after handing over those 2 soft-bound copies across the Graduate Students Office’s reception counter.  *PHEWWW!….. (for now..)*

The rationale for the topic was simple. Literature on Democracies seem to suggest that democratic states have the best political system to address environmental problems as they allow for multi-stakeholder participation, a freedom of information and association and accountability. Yet, with this back drop, why is it then that the leading democratic countries still fail to address global climate change? The US, which is the bastion of liberal democracy, is ironically the biggest carbon emitter and has not signed the Kyoto Protocol. Several European states also falter in meeting their carbon emission targets, and this is further exacerbated by the issues of carbon leakage from EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

More importantly, what does mean for young democracies in the developing world – many of which have already been struggling to adapt to the new circumstances that come with democratisation. Can these young democracies withstand the pressures of democratisation, economic development and environmentalism? The Indonesian case study is significant for future research and policy implications given the fact that not only is Indonesia a young democracy in the developing world, it is also considered the 3rd largest carbon emitter in the world (when emissions from degradation is included). Moreover, the need to conserve their forests is all the more vital as global carbon sinks – as seen by the big chunks of funding being pumped in to support REDD projects across the archipelago.

I must say it has been challenging putting this paper together… something so theoretical such as democracy, and something so technical like climate change mitigation.

Below are some sources which found fascinating and definitely worth referring to for future research and policy deliberations.

Battig, M. & Bernauer, T. 2009, National Institutions and Global Public Goods: Are Democracies More Cooperative in Climate Change Policy?, International Organization, Vol. 63, pp. 281 – 308 (available in pdf)

Barr, C., Dermawan, A., Purnomo, H., & Komarudin, H. 2010, Financial governance and Indonesia’s Reforestation Fund during the Soeharto and post-Suharto periods, 1989-2009: A political economic analysis of lessons for REDD+, CIFOR Occasional paper 52, Center for International Forestry Research

Nomura, Ko, 2007, Democratisation and Environmental Non-governmental Organisations in Indonesia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 495 – 517

Payne, R. 1995, Freedom and the Environment, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 6, No.3, pp. 41-55

Walker, Peter A. 1999, Democracy and environment: congruencies and contradictions in southern Africa, Political Geography, Vol. 18, Issue 3, pp. 257-284

going350logo

So its finally happening! An event not only to commemorate International Day of Climate Action, but also to kickstart a process of reflection and action amongst Muslims on issues relating to the environment.

When? 1.30pm – 4 pm on 24 October 2009. Where? Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) Auditorium , 1 Pasir Ris Drive 4, Singapore. Why? Because being green is not just a fad. Its a way of life.

Put simply, the environment is accorded reverence and respect in Islam. It’s among Allah’s marvelous master pieces. About 750 verses in the Holy Quran alluded to the many tangible and intangible benefits Man derives from it. Thus Man has a moral obligation to, not only appreciate, and sustain Allah’s blessings.

However, Muslim circles have not paid sufficient attention to environmental issues – especially in light of pertinent contemporary challenges such as climate change, and water, food and energy security.Environmental awareness amongst Muslims is low and while there may be various Muslim individuals that care for the environment, there seemsto be a lack of concerted efforts by Muslims as a community.

There is hence a need advocate for a greater sense of environmental awareness and action amongst Muslims – to complement and parallel national and global efforts as well as provide a basis of understanding Islam holistically amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

This event seeks to bring together Islamic scholars, environmentalists and the wider public to further understand the various facets of environmental issues and thereby motivate them to take action – no matter how big or small – for a more sustainable future. The event will feature a panel discussion with the following speakers:

  • “The Environment in Islam” by Ustaz Firdaus Yahya Vice President, PERGAS & Director, Darul Huffaz
  • “Muslim Environmental Groups at Work” by Ms. Siobhan Irving, Anthropologist
  • “Championing Environmentalism” by Ms Nur Amira Abdul Karim, ECO-Singapore Representative at COP15.

This will be followed by a video conference with  Mr Wilson Ang, President of ECO-Singapore. Wilson will be joining us from Sweden, while he participates in other 350-related events there, and give us his thoughts on the way forward for the environmental movement in Singapore and globally.

Finally, we end off with some light refreshments (no red meat so as to reduce our consumption of natural resources) with the use of biodegradable utensils kindly sponsored by Olive Green.

We look forward to seeing you there. Kindly do RSVP to Shereen at shereen@amp.org.sg or visit our Facebook event page. And bring a friend or two, while you’re at it! 🙂

We would also like to encourage our participants to wear Blue or Green for the event.

This event is organised by the Young Association of Muslim Professionals (Young AMP) in Singapore with the cooperation and support of ECO-Singapore and Olive Green.

Click HERE  to view our flyer in pdf format. For directions to AMP @ Pasir Ris, click HERE to view a map in jpeg format.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

In July, some 200 Muslim scholars gathered in Istanbul and formulated the first ever Muslim Climate Change Action Plan. This is indeed a milestone as it demonstrates a united front by the Muslim community in the need to be proactive in addressing contemporary global issues. 

Sheikh Ali Gomaa, The Grand Mufti of Egypt, speaking at the historic meeting in Istanbul.
Sheikh Ali Goma'a, The Grand Mufti of Egypt, speaking at the historic meeting in Istanbul.

However, I do have some reservations as to how this plan will play out. While the bulk of the plan does have significant initiatives to address climate change, one of it seemed to suggest that “Islamic environmental labels” should be created. Is this really necessary?

Global environmental standards, labels and mechanisms are already readily available; why then should “islamic” labels be used? Why waste our time inventing the wheel? This response is therefore inappropriate as it only serves further separate the Muslim community from the wider society. Moreover, creating more ‘islamic labels’ only serves to further emphasize rituals and rules, rather than a deeper and holistic understanding of islamic teachings on the environment.

It is only a matter of time till we see how this plan will materialize (if at all).

To view a related op-ed that I had written in 2007 on the role of the OIC, click the link below.

Climate Change and the Muslim World: The OIC can do with Captain Planet

As the month of Ramadan draws nearer, so does my proposed Green Iftar, which will be organised under the auspices of the Young Association of Muslim Professionals (Young AMP) in Singapore on the 5th of Sept. Its quite exciting as this would kickstart a drive of further environmental awareness amongst Muslims in Singapore.

I was pleased to have been sent an article from The Council of Islamic Organizatons of Greater Chicago website (via the DC Green Muslims mailing list) as it only serves to strengthen my resolve of further advocating environmental awareness amongst Muslims. 

In the article, Dr Zaher Sahloul highlights the opportunities of advocating greater reflection and concrete action amongst Muslims on their relationship with the environment. He also provides examples of simple practices that Muslims can adopt for an environmentally friendly lifestyle. The best part of it all,  these practices are simple and complement what has already been advocated in other environmental circles.  Below are a few lines from the article that brought a smile to my face 🙂

“Every person will leave an ecological and a spiritual footprint. Your ecological footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in life by using energy, especially fossil fuel, through transportation, use of electricity, consumption of certain food that require transportation and industrial fertilizers, waste and pollution. As Americans, our average ecological footprint is five to ten times that of a person living in other areas in the developing world. We use fasting in Ramadan to cap our eating, our drinking and our impulses, so why do we not use it to shrink our ecological footprint?

Why don’t we advance the concept of the Muslim footprint and educate our community to work collectively to shrink it?

Ramadan can be transformed to be a truly green month, and Muslims, with all people of faith, can live up to their responsibility to be the true stewards on earth and use Ramadan to help us reach that goal.

Ramadan is a once a year opportunity to tackle global issues like overconsumption, materialism, poverty, hunger, wars and yes, global warming.

To view the full article, please click on this link

Its just great to know that more like-minded people worldwide are wanting to make a difference in the Umma. Kudos and more strength to you all.

Ahlan ya Ramadan! Bring it on!