Conflicts in Countries
& the Security Council



Program on the Environment and Sustainable Development

      The Anglican Communion of Churches is represented in 165 different countries around the world and consists of nearly 80 million persons. The mission of the Anglican Observer at the UN is to be a voice for this diverse global constituency, while speaking out on concerns which affect the dignity of every human person and the whole human family. Many, if not all, of these concerns are directly related to the environmental crisis in its many forms: water and forest degradation, climate change, toxic wastes, soil and habitat loss, the extinction of species. No issue is greater than the environmental crisis; if has an impact on every part of life -- from global peacekeeping to the welfare of children and households.

     In the 1970’s, the growing awareness of this crisis prompted Member States of the UN to undertake a bold diplomatic and policymaking initiative. This led to the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil and its landmark plan to bring together the goals of environmental protection and sustainable development. Since that time, when our ministry at the UN was first established, the Anglican Observer has been an active participant in efforts to promote environmental protection and sustainable development within the United Nations and in the life and ministry of the Anglican Communion. In 1991, The Rev. Canon Jeff Golliher, PhD., an Episcopal priest and cultural anthropologist, was added to the Observer’s program staff. In addition to theological training in this vital area, Canon Golliher’s anthropological background includes experience with traditional indigenous communities in rainforest ecosystems, folk-knowledge of ecosystems and healing practices, and modern religious pilgrimage as a search for spiritual and ecological wholeness.

    To date, the Office of the Anglican Observer at the UN has contributed to the ongoing effort to promote environmental protection and sustainable development through its leadership and participation in numerous summits and forums at the United Nations as well as in the Anglican Communion. We have worked closely with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and many NGO organizations and coalitions. Many of the views and positions taken by the Office have been published in order to make the message widely heard. Among those contributions are the following:

  • In 2002, we organized the Global Anglican Congress on the Stewardship of Creation. This was the first international gathering of single faith group for the purpose of educating clergy and laypersons about the environmental crisis, while organizing them to respond effectively. The Congress was attended by representatives from over half of the Anglican Communion’s Provinces. An educational document arising from the Congress will be published in 2004 under the title Healing God’s Creation.
    • We participated as invited panelists at a pre-Lambeth consultation organized by the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA. Our contribution was subsequently published as “This Sacred Earth: The Ecological Crisis as a Crisis of the Church,” in Beyond Colonial Anglicanism: The Anglican Communion in the Twenty-First Century, Ian T. Douglas and Kwok Pui-Lan, eds., 2001.
  • We formed part of a team of experts who coordinated and contributed to the United Nations Environment Program¹s Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity (2000), a vision for policymaking and education mandated by the Earth Summit’s Biodiversity Convention.
  • We co-sponsored and coordinated a high level conference of experts from community-based organizations and multi-national corporations called “Genetic Engineering and Food for the World” at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (2001).
    We have published a number of briefing papers on critical issues taken up at numerous UN Conferences and Summits:

    “Environment and Development at the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil.”

    “Indigenous Peoples, Contemporary Global Relationships, and the Anglican Communion.”

    “Poison in Poverty’s Wound: The International Trade in Hazardous Substances.”

    “World Environmentalism and Planetary Culture: A Critique.”

    “The Bonds That Makes Us One: A Critique of People-Centered Sustainable Development.” (Prepared for the United Nations Conference of Social Development, Copenhagen, 1995).

    “The City and Civil Society: An Anglican Perspective.” (Prepared for the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, Istanbul, 1996).

    “The Meaning of Diversity: In Relation to Ecosystems, Communities, and Institutions.” (Prepared for the International Conference on Diversity as a Resource, Rome, 1998).
The ministry of the Anglican Observer at the UN was established in 1989, when consultative status with the Economic and Social Council was granted. By appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the first two Anglican Observers were The Rt. Rev. Sir Paul Reeves from New Zealand and The Rt. Rev. James Ottley from Panama. The Rt. Rev. Paul Moore and The Rt. Rev. Herbert Donovan served as Interim Observers until the most recent appointment of Archdeacon Taimalelagi F. Tuatagaloa-Matalavea from Samoa.

Published by the Anglican Communion Office ©2002 Anglican Consultative Council