Small Islands Big Challenges

CJC is putting the challenges posed by climate change and the championing of small islands and developing states at the core of the global Jewish agenda. Our manifesto “In Pursuit of Climate Justice” urges climate action now.

The small island developing states (or ‘SIDS’) comprise 51 nations and territories across the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, representing some of the most beautiful and most fragile places on earth. Many of these small island developing states are members of the Commonwealth, from Antigua and Barbuda, to Vanuatu.
We have recruited environmental champions from across our communities to lead the discussion and work to hold our governments accountable, turn their commitments into action, and mobilise activity at local community level. We are working to make our voices heard by decision-makers, with COP26 presenting a huge opportunity to pressure the world’s governments and big corporations to agree a robust strategy to stem global warming. We are also working to make small but significant steps throughout our communal networks and institutions, for example through tree planting, reusing and recycling, switching to renewable energy, and avoiding plastics.

The Jewish response

Jewish tradition is unashamed about the right of humanity to manipulate the world for its advantage. We believe confidently in the use of human ingenuity to fix the world and its problems. That is why this need – to address the current issues facing the whole human population of the planet, let alone all the other flora and fauna who share it with us – urgently demands our attention and best efforts. If we’re in charge, we’d better take responsibility.

What you can ask Governments and Businesses to do

We must do more to hold the world’s governments accountable for their commitments and make the instruments of international aid more responsive to the realities of climate change. We need to make our voices heard by decision-makers: governments, corporations, major institutions, and international bodies.
  • We must demand that the world’s governments deliver on their promises as part of the Paris Agreement to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. That means action plans at the heart of government, with buy-in from the top of government, and clear national targets.

  • We must insist that as the global economy recovers from recession, it is not at the expense of the environment. That means, post-pandemic, we need a renewed effort to switch to low-carbon public transport, energy supplies and manufacturing processes.

  • Governments and major bodies must do more to protect green spaces, forests, jungles, and marine environments, to end deforestation and protect endangered species. We can start with our local authorities, businesses, schools, colleges, synagogues, and employers.

  • The developed world must honour its commitments to the developing world, in terms of international aid and investment as well as more responsive financial arrangements and instruments to address the inordinate costs to many small island nations as they strive to respond to ever increasing and repeated damage to their environments. This is especially true of flood defences, flood-resistant building programmes, and other measures in the small island states and other coastal areas which face the greatest immediate threat. This includes better insurance against flood damage.

  • We need to rethink our patterns of consumption, trade and travel so that we balance the need for trade and tourism with the needs of the planet, so we promote ethical, fair trade as a means of equity not exploitation, and we reduce the impact of air travel, which is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gasses.

What you can do to stem climate change

We can make small but significant steps towards saving the world.

  • Rethinking our travel habits, for work or leisure, to reduce our carbon footprint. If we drive cars less and use public transport more (especially when powered by renewables) we help reduce global warming. If we all try to walk and cycle more, we improve public health, personal fitness, and mental wellbeing, not only becoming more resilient to pandemics, but also reducing congestion, pollution, and carbon emissions. Avoiding air travel where possible makes a major contribution to the world’s ‘net zero’ target.

  • Rethinking our eating habits. If we try to eat more locally-grown and produced food, we reduce ‘food miles’ and cut carbon. We can choose local fruit and veg in season, support local markets, cut food waste, avoid food, and drink in plastic packaging, and even grow more of our own produce if possible. This must be done in ways which do not damage developing countries’ export trade.

  • Rethinking our shopping habits. We can make choices as consumers which drive demand for environmentally-friendly products and services, using market forces to change the ways goods are manufactured and services provided. We can choose to bring our own shopping bag, avoid goods in packaging, reject single-use plastic, back ethical suppliers, and support local outlets.

  • We can support local community environmental schemes, through our own communal networks and institutions like schools and synagogues, such as planting bio-diverse bee-friendly gardens, switching to renewable energy suppliers, reusing, and recycling, and avoiding plastics.

  • We can use our voices and platforms, to encourage our friends and families, our leaders, and governments. We can use our positions on boards and committees, as elected representatives, and community leaders, as activists and neighbours, to raise awareness and take action.


  • CJC at COP26

    1 November 2021
    What are our religious leaders doing to rise to the climate challenge? Watch here CJC panel event at COP26
  • Statement by the President of the Commonwealth Jewish Council, Lord Mendelsohn

    27 October 2021
    Climate Challenge and the Jewish World
  • Five things Jewish communities can do to get involved in COP26

    26 October 2021
    The CJC has issued suggestions as to five things that Jews can do immediately to shift the current damaging and deteriorating trajectory of the world in a more constructive direction.’
  • Are Religious Leaders Rising to the Climate Challenge? Join CJC at COP26

    20 October 2021
  • CJC to attend COP26 in November 2021

    1 October 2021
    The Commonwealth Jewish Council is taking a leading role on environmental issues and will be participating in COP26, the global United Nations climate change summit in Glasgow.
  • CJC celebrates World Environment Day

    4 June 2021
    This Shabbat is #worldenvironmentday and here at the CJC we’ve spent the week looking at our role in the environmental challenges we all face. It’s been a busy week, these are just a few of the things we’ve been up to: Started our climate network with representatives from both small and large communities; including Canada, […]
  • Jews worldwide cooperate to tackle climate change

    5 October 2020
    We are delighted to share with you the recent Jerusalem Report, featuring an article focusing on our work and our campaign efforts on ‘Small Islands Big Challenges’.
  • Sukkot 2019

    11 October 2019
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