Press release: Faiths to develop environmental action plans

5 October 2020: A major programme of practical action on the environment by faith groups globally has been launched to address key issues such as climate change, the ecological crisis and the post-Covid regeneration.


The Faith Long-term Plans programme involves the biggest organised sector of civil society – the faiths – in using their assets, investments and influence to drive practical action to benefit people and planet.


It involves each religious group planning how they will manage their own assets and resources over the next seven to ten years – from their investments, schools, hospitals and youth organisations to their land, purchasing power, influence and advocacy.


Faiths are developing their Plans now and they will be launched in 2021 ahead of the UN's COP26 climate negotiations. The programme is organised by FaithInvest, the International Network for Conservation and Religion and WWF's Beliefs and Values Programme.


Martin Palmer, CEO of FaithInvest, an international NGO that helps faith groups invest in line with their values, said: 'The world's major faiths are developing long-term plans to use their assets, investments and influence to drive practical action on the environment and climate.


'Who knows what commitments the national governments and inter-governmental agencies will be able to make in a year’s time, given the impact of Covid and the collapse of so much as a result?


"But no matter what the outcome of the COP26 climate negotiations, the faiths are stepping up to develop the largest long-term commitments for practical action on the environment that they have ever done. We hope the governments will then feel they can join us as we seek to respond to the "cry of the earth and the cry of the poor".'


More than 100 religious groups and organisations covering all faith traditions are expected to develop Plans,  resulting in long-lasting consequences for the faith institutions themselves as well as inspiring behaviour change among their faithful (84% of the global population claims allegiance to a faith).


The Faith Long-term Plans programme builds upon the success of an earlier programme inaugurated by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) over a decade ago. This culminated in the 2009 launch of 30 Plans at Windsor Castle in the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (founder of ARC), followed by another 32 plans of which 28 were from faiths in sub-Saharan Africa.


The 2009 programme led to major faith initiatives, such as the creation of investment priorities resulting in the religions being the leading group involved in the fossil fuel disinvestment movement, the planting of millions of trees globally and a huge increase in sustainable energy for faith buildings (see attached photographs).


As part of the 2020 Faith Long-term Plans programme, FaithInvest, INCR and WWF's Beliefs and Values Programme will be holding a series of webinars for faith groups interested in developing a Plan. The first, entitled Creating your Long-term Plan, is on Tuesday 20 October 2020 at 1530 BST. Click here for more information and here to reserve a place.


Background:

Organisers

  • FaithInvest is a UK-based international NGO founded to grow the scale and impact of faith-consistent investing. It grew out of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, which closed in June 2019. More information: www.faithinvest.org

  • INCR (International Network for Conservation and Religion) is a UK-based international organisation which supports global religions in their care for nature. It also grew out of ARC: www.incrworld.org

  • WWF's Beliefs & Values Programme integrates a values-based approach into WWF's conservation work by engaging with people based on their own religious, spiritual and cultural beliefs and value systems: https://wwf.panda.org/our_work/our_focus/governance/inclusive_conservation/

Background

  • 'Cry of the earth and cry of the poor': Pope Francis made this phrase famous in his ground-breaking 2015 encyclical Laudato Si' (Care for our common home)

  • Faith Long-term Plans: For more information on the plans, including the seven key areas for action, visit www.faithinvest.org/faith-long-term-plans. To download the Faith Long-term Plans brochure click https://bit.ly/3gzxrEL

  • The 2009 Faith Commitments programme led to major changes, such as:

  • The creation of investment priorities for the faiths, resulting in the faiths becoming the leading group involved in the fossil fuel disinvestment movement.

  • A new focus on sustainable agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia based on two pioneering faith-based approaches to farming – Farming God’s Way (Christian) and Islamic Farming.

  • The planting of millions of trees globally to tackle deforestation.

  • The creation of a specific faith and food programme worldwide with all major faiths.

  • A massive increase in the demand for sustainable energy from the faiths for their buildings.

  • The launch of new faith-based environmental organisations, including: 

  • The Sikh environmental organisation, Eco-Sikh, now working with tens of thousands of Sikh temples and organisations across the world;

  • The Bhumi Project, the largest Hindu environment and development agency;

  • The Daoist Ecological Temple Association, linking 10,000s of temples across China.

  • The 2009 Commitments included one from the Jesuits. In 2015, Pope Francis (a Jesuit) published his ground-breaking document, Laudato Si’, the most discussed faith document on faith and the environment yet published and of considerable significance to the wider environmental and sustainable development worlds. 

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