Caring for our environment

Caring for our environment

The South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute is an institute of people of many faiths, united in our diversity through our common commitment to earth-keeping. Our aim is to support the faith communities in fulfilling their environmental & socio-economic responsibility. The institute was founded in July 2005. Rabbi Hillel Avidan, chairperson of the SAAPR, is the SAUPJ representative on SAFCEI.

In the spirit of our respective faiths, through collaboration, networking, research & action, our objectives are to:

  1. Raise environmental awareness
  2. Engage in formulating policy & ethical guidelines within our faith communities
  3. Facilitate environmental responsibility & action
  4. Confront environmental & socio-economic injustices
  5. Support environmental training and learning.

We uphold as core values the principles of the Earth Charter:


Respect Earth and life in all its diversity

  1. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love.
  2. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful.
  3. Secure Earth’s bounty and beauty for present and future generations.

Protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.


Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative.


Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making and access to justice.

Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.

Promote a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace.

Some issues SAFCEI is addressing

Climate Change:
Climate change is being generated by greenhouse gases, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal-fired electricity generation, and by motor vehicle emissions. If we don’t take urgent remedial action, climate change could be devastating. We need to ensure that it is placed on the agenda of faith communities.

How we generate energy and the amount we use is closely linked to climate change. There is a need to bring faith communities into greater awareness of the need to use renewable energy. If we are to prevent catastrophic climate change, we need to move from our present policy of high capital, high-tech, high energy development, to renewable, people-centred electricity generation that is in the control and hands of local communities.

Economics and Ethics:
There are huge economic injustices and disparities in our world today. We won’t get our economics right or stem environmental degradation, unless we get our ethics right. Ethics is obviously an area faith communities should be involved in.

Biodiversity and Extinction:
As people of faith, we believe God brought life into being. It is not for us to destroy it. Life on our planet is dependant on the interconnectedness of the variety of species. If too many species are destroyed, the very fabric of life is threatened. Our present rate of extinction is alarming. Among our faith communities we need to promote an attitude that has a high regard for life.

Food Security:
We believe our people have a right to know what food they are eating. Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) food is not labelled. We are also greatly alarmed at the monopolistic control, notably by Monsanto, of sale of seed and distribution in South Africa. It is obviously essential for our African farmers to be able to continue saving seed for the next season. This is not possible with GMO seed under the control of multi-national corporations. Our food security is in jeopardy.

In all these environmental issues it is the poor who will be most effected, as climate change brings an end to their traditional farming, or fish stocks decline, or arable land is taken over by hungry developers, for example, housing and golf estates.

Waste Management:
The amount of rubbish and waste that we are generating is becoming unmanageable. We can do much through recycling, and composting of biodegradable waste.

Reduce, Recycle, Re-use:
We all need to learn to reduce our consumption of water or energy and there is much that every individual family can do to change direction so that we get onto a sustainable path for the future.

For the future of life the faith communities need to be involved. Our goal is to build a sustainable future for life on earth.

Contact us

Enquiries: Rabbi Hillel Avidan
Durban Progressive Jewish Congregation
Tel: +27 31 208 6105

Fax: +27 31 209 2429

For further information, go to our website: