Our natural environment constantly changes, due to natural phenomena that have been happening over millions of years. Human activities, however, are causing unfavourable changes within the environment.

For example, our excessive use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas, etc.) has caused a dramatic change in level of carbon dioxide (a gas which contributes to global warming). The amount of carbon dioxide gas on earth has increased by 25% in the last 50 years. Changes such as these have destructive consequences, but it is not too late to make a change.

The creation of Al-Azhar Park in Cairo is an excellent example of a positive change. The Park demonstrates that it is possible to rejuvenate deteriorating spaces. The site, originally used as a dumping ground, is now beneficial for creating new ecosystems and is also contributing to the economic growth in the area. Before the Al-Azhar Park was built, Cairo had one of the lowest ratio of green space to population areas globally. Now, this park brings new life to this city.

Another example, is the project which the AKF Walk and Run supported this year, which focused on preparing communities in Northern Afghanistan for the impacts of climate change. This is an amazing project. The project helps the people from areas of lower socioeconomic status since they are most impacted by climate change. The collaboration with the European Commission means the amount raised will be 10 times of the total amount that the Ismaili community raises.

So what more can we, as a community, do? There are many steps that can be taken, which are super easy, inexpensive and will make a difference:

  1. We can ensure that all communications are paper free, or if this can’t be avoided, that they are printed on recycled paper. When we finish reading our information leaflet in khane, recycle it.
  2. Create plastic free activities, or ensure any plastic used is recycled. Black plastic is harder to recycle, or in most cases is not recyclable at all so use white recyclable plastic or cardboard.
  3. If there is going to be tea after jamati activities, bring a reusable cup. [Did you know that in some coffee shops you can get a discount if you bring your own cup too?]
  4. Use paper or metal straws.
  5. Bring a cloth bag to khane.
  6. By not serving meat at events, we can also lower the carbon footprint of the community as a whole.
  7. Having water refill points at large (inter)national events will not only save the National Council money and will cut down the use of plastic at large events.
  8. Perhaps even go to khane on public transport if possible!

However, the best thing we can do is talk about climate change, and human induced effects on our planet. Talk to your friends and family.  Tell your workplace why they should be sustainable. Write to your local MP and emphasise how much of a crisis we are in. Let us not underestimate the impact of word of mouth communications. Greta Thunberg, a teenager from Sweden who created the Fridays for Future movement demonstrates this perfectly. She has not only raised awareness worldwide and elevated the climate emergency we are in, but also has been an excellent role model for young people and shown that no one is too small to make a change.

We must do what is within our capability and limits. Remember, it isn’t just our future that we are trying to save – it is also the future of our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and future generations to come. They will be living in this world. They deserve to have a habitable planet - that same one that we enjoyed in our lifetime. If all of us work together in harmony, we can all make a difference.