‘Green Bishop’ awarded for his tireless environment work

2009-11-19 08:22

HE LIKES hiking, body surfing and has a strong bond with mother

nature, and it is when he goes up into the mountains that he is able to feel the

presence of God most acutely, he says.

Bishop Geoff Davies was last week awarded with the SAB

Environmentalist of the Year award for his environmental activism.

“The main duty of Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment

Institute (Safcei) is to encourage, enable and equip faith communities to take

their environmental responsibilities seriously,” says Davies, who is an

executive director of Safcei, an organisation representing various faith

communities whose aim is to care for the environment.

Davies retired in 2004 after 17 years of service as bishop of the

Anglican Diocese in Umzimvubu, the Eastern Cape, to establish Safcei. He talks

passionately about the environment, God and man’s duty towards other living

things on earth.

According to him mankind should take action in “preserving our

water resources, stopping erosion, bringing ethics into business relations”, and

adds that greed and the desire to make money at the expense of the environment

has led to “overfishing, destruction of forests, building on wetlands and do

things with no regard for the environment”.

He believes that the destruction of the environment and the

emission of greenhouses gases is upsetting the delicate ecological balance.

“People don’t realise that the atmosphere is delicate and needs to be looked

after to allow life to flourish, and we have the responsibility to care for

everything God has brought into being.”

Dubbed the “Green Bishop”, Davies was born in Cape Town and studied

history and social anthropology at the the University of Cape Town.

He had a short stint as a journalist at the Cape Argus newspaper

before going to England where he studied theology at the Cambridge University.

Thereafter, he was ordained as a priest at the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London

before going to work in Botswana. He returned to Cape Town later on and preached

the gospel of environmental preservation and care in the faith community.

Davies recalls an incident in the former Transkei where he saw a

group of people stoning a bat which was taking refugee in a tree. “I told them

not to kill it because it helps human beings by eating mosquitoes. We should not

be hurting what God brought into being but instead we should protect.”

The confidence and conviction in the bishop’s voice as he talks

about care for the environment is enough to convince one that he deserves the


His wife, Kate, is an environmental educator while one of his two

daughters works at the Zambezi National Park as an environmental educator.

“The award is a wonderful honour and encouragement,” he says, and

it will spur him on his mission to make “people far more aware of their position

and change attitudes” to the environment “because if things go on like this,

with droughts, rising sea levels and storms getting worse millions will be

homeless and will starve.”

Davies said he will be closely watching the world leaders at the

United Nations’ Climate Change Conference on December 7-18 in Copenhagen,

Denmark, and prays that world “leaders are going to do what is right and take

urgent and meaningful action to stem climate change.”

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