The Diocese of Southwark’s Synod recently unanimously approved its renewed Environment Policy, thereby continuing, and building on, the Diocese’s commitment made at Synod in 2019 to register as an Eco Diocese* and work towards achieving the Bronze Eco Diocese Award by 2025.

The Bishop of Kingston, the Rt Revd Dr Richard Cheetham, proposed the following motion: This Synod welcomes and approves the Diocesan Environment Policy as the next step on our journey in line with the Fifth Anglican Mark of Mission (to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth).”

The motion was approved unanimously, which means that the Diocese is a step closer to applying for the Eco Diocese Bronze Award.

The renewed policy is rooted in the Bible, the Fifth Mark of Mission, and the Southwark Vision’s imagery of a fruitful future. It is a high-level policy document which sets a direction of travel for the Diocese. Significant changes in this policy since the previous one are:

  • The inclusion of a target of 2035 to achieve Carbon Net Zero in the Diocese
  • Firmer commitments to training and reference to Mission Action Planning which build stronger links across different Diocesan functions
  • Specific reference to maintenance of vicarages
  • Proposal for a network of Eco Champions, based in Deaneries.

Bishop Richard, who leads the Diocese on the Environment, said, “The Diocese of Southwark is strongly committed to playing our full part in our care for the environment and facing the challenges of climate change and our Diocesan Synod voted unanimously in 2019 to begin on the Eco-Diocese journey.  This commitment is rooted in our Christian understanding of God’s love for all creation.  Our renewed Environment Policy gives expression and direction to this commitment for the next stage of our journey to ensure that it is deeply embedded in every aspect of our mission and ministry.”

The Synod heard from the Diocese of Southwark’s Climate Justice Youth Forum, via a video, where they discussed Climate Change and what should be done to make a difference. “When I heard just how much water it takes to make a pair of jeans, I was shocked!” said one. Another said, “I think a lot of people have a bad image of teenagers. But actually, a lot of us are very passionate about the environment. We are the next generation, so giving us a voice would definitely help other people to listen and also help other people to make a change for the future.” Drawing on his Christian faith, another said, “Because we are Christians, we can do it as an act of worship.”

The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said, “I was deeply encouraged to hear from our young people across the Diocese on this important issue of Climate Change that will, as some of them said in the video, affect them and future generations greatly. It is crucial we take action now – each playing our small parts – to make a difference for the better and indeed to preserve life on this planet. The Diocese of Southwark has long been committed to combatting Climate Change. Since 2019 Eco Church registrations have more than doubled and I encourage churches to register or make plans to do so.”

Diocesan Secretary, Ruth Martin, said, “The revised Environment Policy reflects very well the significance and commitment that we will need to demonstrate in practical ways, not least in careful investment and spend of resources to achieve Carbon Net Zero targets in the medium term, as well as the Eco Diocese recognition. This will appropriately challenge us all and the progress we have made in developing plans consultatively and thoughtfully is a testament to the authenticity with which this area of work is being undertaken.”

Nicola Thomas, Head of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation at the Diocese of Southwark, said, “I am really excited to have the opportunity to walk alongside parishes, schools and Deaneries in the Diocese as we work to become an Eco Diocese. The refreshed Environment Policy is a key element of this work and makes reference to many important initiatives such as reducing carbon, embedding environmental concerns into our training programmes, and building care for creation into Mission Action Planning. I encourage every church in the Diocese to register as an Eco Church and to get in touch via the Environment web pages to share good news stories and ask for help and support.”

Read the renewed Environment Policy and find out more about becoming an Eco Church on our Environment page. The Diocese of Southwark has initiated a new hashtag, #EcoSouthwark, and encourages churches to share their Eco stories through tweets, e-mails and Facebook.

* Eco Diocese is an initiative to encourage diocesan-level engagement with Eco Church, an A Rocha UK project, run in partnership with Christian Aid, The Church of England, The Methodist Church, Tearfund, The United Reformed Church and Allchurches Trust Limited.  Find out more here.