Welcome to the latest edition of #UpForJustice
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Welcome to the latest edition of #UpForJustice, the monthly updates from the ISJC containing news, articles and a prayer focus from The Salvation Army's International Social Justice Commission (ISJC) based in New York City, USA.

This month, Commissioner Janine Donaldson continues using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for prayer and reflection. There are 17 goals, which all 193 United Nations (UN) member states endorsed at the UN General Assembly in September 2015. The SDGs will shape the development agendas in all countries until 2030. Read more about the SDGs by visiting www.salvationarmy.org/isjc/SDGs. We also take a look at the latest news from the ISJC.

SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Ko ngā pae tawhiti whāia kia tata, ko ngā pae tata, whakamaua kia tina
The potential for tomorrow depends on what we do today.
This Māori saying reflects great truth for me - a Pakeha Kiwi living in New Zealand, two small islands in the middle of a great ocean. The ocean is a part of who I am.

Each morning as I drive into my workplace the sea is ever in my view and always reminds me of the chorus to a song that never fails to bring a smile to my face:

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Many New Zealanders like me value our coastal waters and oceans. Māori people have a special affinity with the oceans and this is recognised in the Treaty of Waitangi. Many of the country’s industries depend on biological resources and healthy ecosystems, including its $1.2 billion a year commercial fishing industry.

It doesn’t matter whether you live near the sea or not, nor whether or not you enjoy what the seas produce; we all need healthy oceans.

“Oceans are the point at which planet, people, and prosperity come together. And that is what sustainable development is about. It is about all of us as shareholders of Earth, incorporated, acknowledging and acting on our responsibility to the planet, to the people, and to its bloodstream, the oceans.” (Elizabeth Thompson, Co-Executive Coordinator for the Rio+20 Conference, at Oceans Day at Rio+20, 16 June 2012)

3.1 billion of the world’s population live within 100 kilometres of the ocean or sea. Whether your country is landlocked or has a coastline we are all connected to the seas and oceans by lakes, streams and rivers.

We celebrate some great changes made through sustainable fishing, ‘green’ shipping, employment and empowerment (particularly of women in isolated and small communities who have been able to make use of their work in marine and aquaculture to strengthen their countries’ economic status).

We are also very aware that those who make their homes in coastal areas are experiencing climate change in a variety of extremes. It is estimated that by 2050, 50 to 200 million people around the world will be displaced due to the effects of climate change on our great oceans.

According to the US Committee on Biological Diversity in Marine Systems, the most serious threats to marine biodiversity are:
  • fishing operations
  • chemical pollution and eutrophication
  • alteration of physical habitat invasions of exotic species
  • global climate change
In New Zealand many of our activities impact on our marine biodiversity, including:
  • fishing - recreational and commercial land use - through sediments and pollution
  • exotic pests - introduced by shipping in ballast water and fouled hulls
  • human-induced climate change - affects ocean temperature and levels.
As an island nation, Kiwis are interested in the way the ocean is looked after. The sea is part of our lives both for recreation and a source of food and income.

In Genesis 1:7-10 we read ‘So God made a canopy that separated the water beneath the canopy from the water above it. And that is what happened: God called the canopy “sky.” The twilight and the dawn were the second day. Then God said, “Let the water beneath the sky come together into one area, and let dry ground appear!” And that is what happened: God called the dry ground “land,” and he called the water that had come together “oceans.” And God saw how good it was’.

What part can we play in conserving and valuing what we have been given?

1. Be aware of Your Carbon Footprint and Reduce Energy Consumption
Be careful of your car use and the energy you use at home. Light bulbs can be replaced with energy efficient ones. Switch off unnecessary power.
2. Choose Safe, Sustainable Seafood Choices
Global fish populations are rapidly decreasing due to high demand, loss of habitat, and unsustainable fishing practices. When shopping or eating out, help reduce the demand for overexploited species by choosing seafood that is both healthy and sustainable.
3. Watch your use of Plastic Products
Many plastic items end up as ocean debris and contribute to habitat destruction entangling and killing vast quantities of marine life every year. To reduce this, carry a reusable water bottle, store food in non-disposable containers, and use your own reusable bags when shopping. Recycle when possible.
4. Take Care of your Beaches
Whether you enjoy swimming, surfing, diving or relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself. Explore and value the ocean without interfering with wildlife or removing rocks and coral. Be mindful of rubbish on the beach and take the time to clean up.
5. Don't Purchase Items That Exploit Marine Life
Certain products harm our fragile coral reefs and marine life. Avoid buying items such as coral jewellery, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products.
6. Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean
Many organizations are engaged in protecting our ocean habitats and marine wildlife. Consider finding an organisation that you can invest in and support or volunteer your time.
7. Travel the Ocean Responsibly
Be responsible on the water when you are in a boat or engaged in other recreational activities. Don’t throw rubbish overboard, and be aware of marine life in the waters around you.
8. Develop your knowledge on the Oceans and its Marine Life
All life on Earth is connected to the ocean and its inhabitants. When we learn more about the issues facing this vital system, the more we’ll want to help, share knowledge, educate and inspire others.
 Let’s us each bring joy back to the fishes in the deep blue sea and enjoy the majesty and beauty of the seas around us that God has entrusted to our care.

Updates from the ISJC

  • This month, we have attended UN meetings on topics including bullying, radicalisation, girls and poverty. See reports on all of these and more - visit our website and select 'Partner' from the menu.
  • We held a three-day team meeting to discuss our priorities and agenda for the next few months.
  • As part of this, we hosted a video call between the social justice teams of the Army from around the world, updating each other on the most-pressing global issues.
An image of the territorial social justice video call (mentioned left) from the point of view of the ISJC office

Prayer focus

  • Thank you for the amazing diversity of the world You created. From dry, vast expanses of desert to beautiful rainforests and rivers and all that comes in between, we have so much to be awe-struck by.
  • Help us to be mindful of our impact on the oceans and wildlife at all times. May we strive to choose the better, more sustainable option even if it requires more effort or expense.
  • Give those with responsibility – leaders, businesses, communities – the foresight to care for the environment with actions and plans that look far into the future. May they look past the short-term, crowd-pleasing measures and do what is best for the planet.
  • Be with those whose role is to guide the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals along, especially this month in the area of our oceans. Give them wisdom, the conviction to do what is best and the support of those they work with.

Prayers for the ISJC

  • Please pray for ISJC team member Dr James Read who has recently been appointed by the General of The Salvation Army as the chair of the International Moral and Social Issues Council. Please pray for God’s continued wisdom and blessing on James.
  • Please pray for Dr Laurelle Smith who has been appointed Research Analyst at the ISJC and is awaiting her visa and permission to move from New Zealand to New York.
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