Seven Key Areas
We all know that working in partnership with others is far more powerful than working alone. As the Dalai Lama said: 'We can see that all the desirable experiences that we cherish or aspire to attain are dependent upon cooperation and interaction with other sentient beings.' There are many different types of partnership, so how can faith groups increase their impact on the environment by working in partnership with others?
'I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.'
– Mother Teresa
Some areas to consider as you develop your Faith Plan
and a DEDICATED FUNDING SOURCE
Do you have staff dedicated to developing environmental work? Is there a focal point for this work, a website? An office? If not, could you open an environment office?
Can you put funds aside annually to fund this work and outreach?
Will these staff have access to the right training and resources to effectively do their work?
Have you tried to involve lay people who are active in environmental fields to help you develop appropriate ecological responses to issues? Lay people often want to contribute but no-one asks them to do so.
Try establishing an advisory group of members of your faith who are specialists in different fields related to the environment – law, water management, land management, education, waste management etc. The advisory group will offer you most professional advice and could also link your programmes into the wider work of local, national or international agencies, so that your own efforts are multiplied, or leveraged.
It's also worth thinking about the level of professionalism, diversity of backgrounds and experience, and generations represented you need within an advisory group.
Do you have existing links or twinnings with other groups – churches, mosques, temples, dioceses etc in different parts of the world?
If they are in places that are already experiencing climate change at a critical level then have you thought of partnering with them on an environmental basis? And if you are in a place that is experiencing climate change, have you thought about bringing that into your twinning relationship?
Have you explored the possibility of twinning with a secular organisation?
What can be shared beneficially between your organisation and the one you twin with (resources, knowledge and the like)?
Look around and see who might partner with you because they share the same interest in organic farming, clean energy usage, recycling etc. There is no need always to reinvent the wheel.
Have you made links with secular bodies that are working, environmentally, in the field?
Have you made links with other faith bodies in your region that are interested in improving their environmental impact?
Are there areas where you can share expertise and experience and avoid duplication?
How new faith-based environmental
organisations were created following
the 2009 Faith Commitments programme
Three faith environmental organisations developed out of, or were given added impetus by, ARC's 2009 Faith Long-term Commitments programme.
The Bhumi Project (now known as Bhumi Global) was created as a worldwide Hindu response to environmental issues facing our planet. Facilitated by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, in partnership with ARC, and backed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it was officially launched at the 2009 Windsor celebration.
In 2020 it registered as an independent, non-profit organisation and was renamed Bhumi Global, but its core purpose remains the same – to educate, inspire, inform, and connect Hindus and non-Hindus on environmental issues.
Bhumi Global's Director Gopal Patel says: 'Bhumi Global's mission is to engage, educate, and empower people and communities to address the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Our work is based on Hindu principles of environmental care.'
Bhumi Global's strategy includes:
Global leadership – working closely with leading global institutions such as the United Nations to present mature and engaged Hindu perspectives on the environment and sustainable development.
Empowering a new generation – working with Hindu
Young Hindus water a newly planted tree in Kenya
as part of a Hindu reforestation project
youth and student organisations to offer them support,
resources and leadership training.
Interfaith engagement – We believe no single religious or spiritual tradition has a monopoly on the truth, and that solving the environmental crisis requires everyone to work together.
Daoist ceremony at the Daoist Ecological Temple, Taibaishan. Daoism has a history going back more than 2,000 years. Today it is estimated that 170 million people follow Daoism to some extent, mostly in China.
EcoSikh arose out of the 2009 Windsor Celebration as a global Sikh response to the the threats of climate change and the deterioration of the natural environment.
EcoSikh connects Sikh values, beliefs and institutions to the most important environmental issues facing the world. Its inspiration comes from the words of the Sikh founder, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, which it says lays the foundation for a sacred vision for the environment:
'Air is the Guru, Water the Father and
the Earth is theGreat Mother.'
It began by establishing Sikh Environment Day, first held in 2010 on March 14 – a sacred day for Sikhs which also marks the start of the Sikh New Year. In that first year, more than 200 gurdwaras celebrated Sikh Environment Day in more than 50 cities around the world. Over a decade later, thousands of gurdwaras, schools and other institutions take part and EcoSikh has launched a range of other initiatives including:
Guru Nanak Sacred Forest – a project to plant 300+ micro forests all over the world in honour of the Sikh founder, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Guru Nanak Bagh – the world's first gurbani-based garden that exhibits the entire range of trees and plants referred to in Sikhism's most sacred text, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. ('Gurbani' is a Sikh term meaning writings or compositions by Sikh gurus.)
Daoist Ecological Temples Network
In 2006, the first Daoist ecological temple was created at Taibaishan in China's Shaanxi Province, by a partnership between the China Daoist Association, Shaanxi Province, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the Ecological Management Foundation.
This humble beginning led to the much more ambitious Daoist Ecological Temples Network which was launched three years later at ARC's Faith Commitments celebration at Windsor Castle in 2009.
Since then, it has since grown to more than 200 temples across China – and is still expanding. It held its first Daoist Ecological Temples meeting, entitled 'Heavenly Grottos, Lucid Waters and Lush Mountains', in September 2018 – described as by the China Daoist Association as 'the most successful Daoist event for 10 years'.
The Network provides ecological education, facilitates message dissemination on wildlife, mercy release and vegetarian fasting, organises youth camps and supports the adoption of ecological practices in Daoist temples across China.
Following the publication of the first Daoist Long-term Plan in Windsor, the Daoists have drafted a second Plan; they have seen how stating a vision and creating a plan is very effective at bringing about positive environmental change.
EcoSikh environmental demonstration
Awareness programmes – around reducing, reusing and recycling, and on preserving nature, saving water and using green energy
Organic culture – promoting nature-friendly approaches to agriculture