Islamic Relief Worldwide – IN DEPTH ANALYSIS / Policy and Research: Overview


Poverty and environmental degradation are closely linked. The causes of environmental degradation disproportionately affect the poor, while poverty also accelerates environmental destruction.  

Poor communities often rely on agriculture, fisheries and natural resources in order to make a living but the depletion of fertile grazing land, forests and water sources is leaving them with no way to feed or support themselves. This means they are forced into a cycle of ever-deepening poverty.

In addition, global climate change and local environmental degradation have caused more natural disasters such as droughts, floods and storms. Those most vulnerable are the poorest communities who do not have the resources to protect themselves, with the consequence that there are increasing numbers of ‘environmental refugees.’ 

As natural resources are depleted, poor communities are forced through necessity to overexploit the resources that remain, leading to yet further environmental destruction. Land is over-cultivated, eroded and reserves of wood or grass are used up. Unfortunately as natural resources such as water, that are essential for human life, are used up conflicts between individuals, communities and even countries will become more frequent. Many of the conflicts we see today can be traced to disagreements over access to and use of diminishing natural resources. Islamic Relief is a humanitarian relief and development organisation that works with some of the world’s poorest people. If we are to fulfil our commitment to provide support to these communities we must work to ensuring environmental sustainability.
If the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be met by 2015 it is integral that there are significant steps towards environmental sustainability. At present around 10 million children die every year before their fifth birthday, most as the result of diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and also malnutrition, such diseases will become more widespread as a result of climate change. If the world wide community is to meet the commitments of the MDGs, then it is essential that we act now on climate change.
Our values
Islamic Relief is an organisation inspired by the teachings of Islam. The Islamic environmental worldview is a holistic one and is based on the five aims of Shariah which aim to protect religion, life, mind, offspring and property. Yet these are all directly or indirectly threatened by environmental degradation.

In Islam, Muslims are encouraged to reflect on the relationship between living organisms and their environment and to maintain the balance created by God. Mankind is the guardian of the earth and as such has a duty to protect it and also to ensure its posterity for future generations in the spirit of inter-generational equity.
Islamic Relief believes that we all have a responsibility to maintain the balance of the earth, especially as disruption of this balance is causing widespread suffering amongst the world’s poorest people. Protection of the environment is therefore crucial to Islamic Relief both as one of the Islamic principles on which we are founded, and also because of its importance for poverty reduction.

Our response
Islamic Relief believes that a stable climate and a rich environmental heritage are as important to communities as their material needs. We also believe that environmental conservation, socioeconomic development and emergency relief are interlinked and these links should be reflected in our activities.

Islamic Relief’s interventions to promote environmental sustainability focus on four areas:

  • integrating the principles of sustainable development into all projects
  • preventing or reversing the loss of environmental resources
  • ensuring Islamic Relief’s own internal policies and practices are environmentally sound 
  • advocating for global change to protect the environment.

Project work
Development projects

  • Islamic Relief conducts meaningful environmental impact assessments as a standard part of every project preparation process.
  • Islamic Relief implements many projects aimed at creating sustainable livelihoods through environmental protection and regeneration and promoting environmentally sound practices.
  • We are expanding our projects to meet challenges posed by climate change including increasing natural disasters.

Emergency relief
There is a strong link between environmental degradation and the frequency of natural and man-made disasters. Despite this, in an emergency situation relief workers are often unable to prioritise environmental issues.

  • To help us respond to environmental needs during an emergency Islamic Relief will incorporate viable elements of Rapid Environmental Impact Assessments into our disaster response operations and our disaster response training programmes.

Internal environmental challenges
Islamic Relief is committed to ensuring that all our offices are environmentally sound. This will reduce the organisation’s collective ‘carbon footprint’, reduce costs and also lend us credibility required to advocate on environmental matters. Measures include:

  • Staff behavioural changes such as ensuring all equipment is switched off when not in use, not undertaking unnecessary printing, etc.
  • System development such as recycling all rubbish.
  • The development of an environmentally conscious procurement policy, including the procurement of office items, items for field offices and emergency relief supplies.
  • Limiting the frequency of international air travel and offsetting our carbon emissions.

Islamic Relief is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition as well as various local environmental networks through our various field offices in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

This piece is taken from the website of the Islamic Relief Worldwide.

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