Expressions of Concern
The health of the planet is
being undermined by systemic breakdowns on several levels. Faith communities
are not taking effective action to affirm the bond between humankind and
nature, and lack accountability in this regard. Human systems continue
to deteriorate, as evidenced by militarism, warfare, terrorism, refugee
movement, violations of human rights, poverty, debt and continued domination
by vested financial, economic and political interests. Biological systems
and resources are being eroded, as evidenced by the ongoing depletion,
fragmentation and pollution of the natural systems. Recognising the important
parallels between cultural and biological diversity, we feel a special
urgency with regard to the ongoing erosion of cultures and faith communities
and their environmental traditions, including the knowledge of people
living close to the land.
As people of faith, we are called
to respond to these concerns. We recognise that humanity as a whole must
face these concerns together. Therefore we recommend these principles
as a basis for appropriate environmental policy, legislation and programmes,
understanding that they may be expressed differently in each faith community.
- Religious beliefs and traditions call
us to care for the earth.
- For people of faith maintaining and sustaining
environmental life systems is a religious responsibility.
- Nature should be treated with respect
and compassion, thus forming a basis for our sense of responsibility
for conserving plants, animals, land, water, air and energy.
- Environmental understanding is enhanced
when people learn from the example of prophets and of nature itself.
- Markets and trade arrangements should
reflect the spiritual needs of people and their communities to ensure
health, justice and harmony. Justice and equity principles of faith
traditions should be used for maintaining and sustaining environmental
- People of faith should give more emphasis
to a higher quality of life in preference to a higher standard of living,
recognising that greed and avarice are root causes of environmental
degradation and human debasement.
- All faiths should fully recognise and
promote the role of women in environmental sustainability.
- People of faith should be involved in
the conservation and development process. Development of the environment
must take better account of its effects on the community and its religious
- Faith communities should endorse multilateral
consultation in a form that recognises the value of local/indigenous
wisdom and current scientific information.
- In the context of faith perspectives,
emphasis should be given not only to the globalisation of human endeavours,
but also to participatory community action.
Recommended Courses of Action
- We call upon religious leaders to emphasise
environmental issues within religious teaching: faith should be taught
and practised as if nature mattered
- We call upon religious communities to
commit themselves to sustainable practices and encourage community use
of their land.
- We call upon religious leaders to recognise
the need for ongoing environmental education and training for themselves
and all those engaged in religious instruction.
- We call upon people of faith to promote
environmental education within their community especially among their
youth and children.
- We call upon people of faith to implement
individual, community and institutional action plans at local, national,
and global levels that flow from their spiritual practices and where
possible to work with other faith communities.
- We call upon religious leaders and faith
communities to pursue peacemaking as an essential component of conservation
- We call upon religious leaders and communities
to be actively involved in caring for the environment to sponsor sustainable
food production and consumption.
- We call upon people of faith to take up
the challenge of instituting fair trading practices devoid of financial,
economic and political exploitation.
- We call upon the worlds religious
leaders and world institutions to establish and maintain a networking
system that will encourage sustainable agriculture and environmental
- We call upon faith communities to act
immediately, to undertake self-review and auditing processes on conservation
issues on a regular basis.