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Take action today for people and planet

 Seven Key Areas 

Faith-consistent use of assets
1.b. Buildings, land and water

The first of the Seven Key Areas, Faith-Consistent Use of Assets, is a big one, covering land, buildings, forests, water, health care, financial investment, microfinance, purchasing power and consumption. So we have split this section into three pages. Here we focus on buildings, land and water. 

All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

Faiths are key stakeholders in the planet

The faiths are major stakeholders in the physical planet when it comes to land, buildings, forests and water. They own around 8% of the globe’s inhabitable land mass, and more than 5% of forests, including around 15% of commercial forests. They also have influence over land that they don't own but which has spiritual significance. They run a great many buildings, from places of worship to schools, hospitals, halls of residence, meeting rooms, restaurants and much more. As a result, they have significant role to play in managing their land and in reducing the environmental impacts of their buildings.

Questions to consider as you develop your Faith Plan

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BUILDINGS and ENERGY

  1. Assess the environmental impact of your existing buildings and structures – all the places of worship, accommodation and feeding facilities, other community buildings which are owned and managed by your faith organisation, across all the cities, regions and countries you are present in.

    • What are the current uses of your buildings, status of their structural stability, and need for repair?

    • What were the key ecological problems?

    • What can you do to reduce the negative and enhance the positive environmental impact? 

    • Did you find any solutions in certain sites which could be replicated in some of the other locations? Create a dissemination, education and implementation plan.
       

  2. Identify the construction activity you are likely to undertake in the next 5 to 10 years (including maintenance, repairs and extensions as well as plans for new buildings).

    • What is the likely environmental impact of your construction activities and decisions?

    • What alternatives could be considered to minimise negative impacts (e.g. source of construction materials, multiple purpose spaces, etc.)?

US-based Catholic groups are switching to renewable energy – and saving money as well as the planet

 Catholic Climate Covenant 

The Catholic Church has more schools, universities, hospitals and clinics than any country in the world, and it’s also one of the largest investment groups on the globe. 

 

Catholic Climate Covenant is a wonderful example of a Catholic organisation that addresses the pressing issue of climate change through its Catholic Energies programme, which helps Catholic congregations switch to renewables in order to reduce the financial and ecological burden of high energy costs. 

Dan Misleh, Executive Director of Catholic Climate Covenant, says: ‘We created Catholic Energies to provide a trusted energy advisory service for the Catholic community.' Currently, Catholic Energies is working on 25 projects across 11 US states, and Puerto Rico – including the US$5 million two-megawatt solar system shown right.

 CASE STUDY 

This two-megawatt solar system for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington cost US$5 million and reduces energy costs by several hundred thousand dollars a year. Flowering plants cool the panels, boosting their yield

CASE STUDY
Buddhist nuns turn
their Nepalese
nunnery green

How Sikh temples
are slashing their
climate impact
 

CASE STUDY
 

RESOURCE
UN Environment's Faith for Earth initiative has a guide to greening houses of worship

LAND and FORESTS

Examine the assets under your organisation’s ownership, management or guidance – such as farmland and forests, mines and quarries.

  1. What does your faith teach about land and forests? Do you have access to a theology of land from your own faith tradition, which outlines your faith’s traditional understanding of land, and its understanding of the land’s role in your faith today?
  2. Can you use your theology of land to influence not only the avoidance of undesirable behaviours but also encourage positive behaviours in how your land and forests are accessed and managed?

  3. Have you mapped and recorded the extent of your land and/or forests?

  4. Are current management/protection programmes ecologically and socially effective? 

  5. Are current management/protection programmes ecologically and socially effective? Could they be managed to better contribute to sustaining our planet? 

  6. Does the land/forest you own have purpose for non-faith stakeholders? Have these relationships been taken into consideration?

Forest
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CASE STUDY
The Maronite forest sanctuary that
overlooks Beirut 

CASE STUDY
Buddhist monks ordain trees in battle to save Cambodia's forests

LEARN MORE
Watch our webinar
on managing
faith assets

River Rapids

WATER

Explore your faith’s theology of water.​

 

  1. In what ways can you incorporate your faith’s teachings and wisdom into promoting environmentally responsible irrigation, desalination, bathing, gardening, sewerage etc?

  2. Are your water resources shared with other stakeholders?

  3. How can you actively monitor the rivers and marine environments running through or close to where you live to assess how polluted they are?

  4. How can you track and measure the impact of your actions to reduce that pollution? Who can you partner with to support these efforts (academic institutions, research institutions, the laity, other faith groups)?

  5. How is your commitment to gender equality and racial equality reflected in your long-term water plans?

Children Cleaning Beach

READ MORE
Inspiring case
studies of faith action
on the environment

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CASE STUDY
Helping girls manage periods with dignity – and stay in school 

Click here

Interested in finding out more?

If your organisation is interested in learning more about the Faith Plans programme, please contact us. And don't forget to sign up to our newsletters to be notified of new resources and webinars.

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