As a difficult and turbulent year draws to its close, FaithInvest CEO Martin Palmer is feeling inspired and hopeful.
It’s been a momentous year for all kinds of reasons, not least the ongoing Covid pandemic and the recent UN climate conference, COP26. But also because of an announcement two months ago which, while it made a quieter splash than the other headline topics of the year, nevertheless contained something truly ground-breaking – and hopeful.
On October 4, representatives of most of the major faiths of the world, including the Pope, signed a statement which, for the first time, agreed something unique.
Rather than just calling on governments to take action on climate change, they also pledged to do so themselves. They each agreed to develop practical plans – indeed 'bold plans', the statement said – through which each faith would use its own resources to work pragmatically and systemically for people and planet.
'We underline the importance of taking far-reaching environmental action within our own institutions and communities... Working to make bold plans to achieve full sustainability in our buildings, land, vehicles and other properties, joining the global race to save our planet...'
Within the October 4 statement the faith leaders also made a specific commitment to move their investments into what has become known as faith-consistent investing.
Striving to align our financial investments with environmentally and socially responsible standards, ensuring greater accountability and transparency
(You can read the statement in full here) It has been our privilege as FaithInvest to have had some small role in helping to influence that text and so now we look forward to 2022 and working with each faith to enable them to fulfil such promises. And through our Faith Plans for People and Planet programme, we are already working with faith groups globally to encourage them to develop long-term faith commitments to use their buildings, lands, investments and influence to drive practical action to create a better world
All this is hugely encouraging.
The power of hope
We should use this time of year – which for Christians is called Advent, a time of preparation for the significance to us of Christmas – to reflect on the other great gift that faiths bring to what is for so many people a tired, frightened, and challenging world. And that is hope.
Not a facile hope against hope but a deep-rooted experience that it is only when inspired by hope that great plans can take place. That without hope, drawing upon the centuries of real experience of the great faiths, we are without any real roadmap. Hope is possible because the faiths have helped pull humanity through vast crises in the past and we carry a wisdom that is not there in the ephemeral world of economics or politics.
So as we gear up to announce in 2022 what promises to be the greatest faith-based series of practical initiatives to address climate change, biodiversity loss, economic collapse, pandemics and panics, let us all infuse our plans with that hope that has lead us through the traumas of the past.
A hope and a sense of peace which, frankly, to the astonishment of others, passes all understanding and comes from a deeper source than any other of which we know.