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Faith values, business and green entrepreneurship

FaithInvest held a webinar to discuss how different faith traditions can contribute to rethinking business in the light of the climate and biodiversity crises. You can watch a recording of the webinar by clicking below.

This webinar also provided a preview of UNDP's new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Green Entrepreneurship, for which FaithInvest developed the faith component, and which launches on November 2. The MOOC has three faith 'lenses', providing the perspectives of Catholic, Hindu and Chinese traditions (Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism), and all were represented among the webinar's speakers, who included:

  • Jayshree Balachander, Green Pilgrimage India

  • Jamison Ervin, UNDP

  • Lorna Gold, FaithInvest

  • John Mundell, Mundell Associates 

  • Alison Prout, INCR

  • Linda Wong and Dr Jinfeng Zhou, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation​

Linda Wong began her presentation by showing a photograph of the Guangcai Cause for Entrepreneurs, founded by Dr Zhou in 1994, which had since lifted more than 20 million people out of poverty.

She added 'Today we are in a time of ecological civilisation. The way our economy has grown cannot be sustained. We have to change, to transform what we do and adopt a new code of development.'

Dr Wong said the Chinese traditions of Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism all shared core values such as living in harmony with nature; humanitarianism; righteousness in action, that could shape a new culture of business: 'We should resort to old traditions to find new inspiration.'

Hindu also had values dating back thousands of years including the principle of fundamental unity between all life, said Jayshree Balachander. She gave an overview of key concepts such as dharma, which has been translated as divine law, virtue, justice, and explained as 'that which ensures the welfare of living beings', and ahimsa (non-harming). In a Dharmic ecomony, these principles shape the nature of business.

John Mundell offered an inspiring message based on 24 years of experience running a green business and supporting entrepreneurs: 'Can we actually run these green businesses and be successful? I'm here to tell you that we can because I have an environmental business that has 25 years of history of trying to live this social mission and green mission together.'

He said he was part of a group called the Economy of Communion, with 850 members worldwide trying to build a more just and sustainable economy. They range from grom green businesses such as sustainable tourism or companies cleaning up pollution, to those giving job opportunities to high risk youth.

'Really our focus is on relationships,' he said. 'Profit is not the centre of what we do, people are at the centre, and we see ourselves within each of our local communities as relationship builders and community builders.'

FaithInvest's Director of Public Engagement and Advocacy Lorna Gold said the Pope's landmark 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si', was a call to all Catholics – and all people living on the planet – to recognise our responsibility to care for the earth.

'This assertion that the calling to be protectors of the earth is an integral part of what it means to be a Christian in the 21stcentury, is the most important point,' she said. 'For too long this has been – and in many places still is – seen as something extraneous to Catholics. Here it is put front and centre.'


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