Seven Key Areas
Faith-consistent use of assets
1.c. Healthcare, food, farming and retail
Faiths are major stakeholders in the planet, and so we have split our discussion of the first of the Seven Key Areas – Faith-consistent use of assets – across several pages. Here we focus on healthcare and the wider world of food: how it is produced, distributed and consumed.
Teach our souls to love the good and the greater value and to cling to it.
Sefer HaChinuch, Parshat Shoftim, Mitzvah 529
Faiths are major players in their communities
Faiths are significant health care providers globally; the Catholic Church alone manages around a quarter of the world's healthcare facilities, for example. Many also have major catering and hospitality operations, or supply food to the needy. Here are some questions to consider as you develop your Faith Plan.
Explore your faith’s theology of the protection & care of life.
If you run medical facilities, do you have a sustainable management plan on the use of water, sanitation, hygiene, supplies, buildings, transport, electricity, waste etc?
Which areas can you improve immediately and how can you work to improve the sustainability of your operations over the period of your Faith Plan and beyond?
How is your commitment to gender equality and racial equality reflected in your long-term healthcare plans?
Have you looked at the sourcing of the food served to patients and visitors? Can you increase the amount of food that is grown locally, in season, without pesticides and according to nature-friendly principles?
HOSPITALITY and RETAIL
Faiths run hotels, guesthouses, gift shops, cafeterias, retreat centres and restaurants. Rites of passage such as births, marriages and deaths often involve generous catering and gifts.
1. How can your hospitality and retail outlets improve the ethical and ecological impact of their food sourcing? Can they increase the amount of food that is grown locally, in season, without pesticides and according to nature-friendly principles?
2. The UK’s leading organic organisation, the Soil Association, recommends the 70-50-30 principle for ethical food sourcing. It says the food you buy should be at least:
70 per cent fresh or unprocessed;
50 per cent local;
30 per cent organic.
3. Cooking for large numbers of people is highly energy intensive. How can your hospitality and retail outlets increase their use of renewable sources of energy
4. Recommendations of catering companies for funerals, baptisms, circumcisions etc, could go to companies who demonstrate environmental excellence in their sourcing and operations. How about conferences and meetings?
5. Can you reduce or end the use of disposable plates, cups and cutlery?
HOSPITALITY and RETAIL
The IPCC Climate Change report produced for the 2015 UN Paris Climate Conference showed the world is not on track to avoiding devastating climate impacts. It said urgent action was needed to cut emissions from agriculture. That means how we produce, source and consume our food is more important than ever before.
6. Can you encourage people to reduce their meat consumption overall, increasing their intake of plant-based foods alongside smaller portions of sustainably produced, free range meat, diary and eggs?
A 2019 IPCC special report on climate change and land says meat production is a significant contributor of carbon emisisons, particularly intensively produced meat. Activities relating to land management, including agriculture and forestry, produce almost one-quarter of global emissions.
The report recommends that we reduce meat consumption, saying 'balanced diets featuring plant-based and sustainably produced animal sourced food'present major opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health.'
Islamic approach to farming speaks to farmers in the language of the Qur'an
Practical benefit: Islamic Farming workshop demonstrates how mulching helps prevent
water run-off and maximises the benefits of irrigation
In 2012, as the nature of the farming crisis affecting Africa became clear, Muslim leaders asked the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) to help prepare an action plan to meet the region's future farming needs.
They were inspired by the Christian approach, Farming God's Way (see the case study below), and also recognised that agriculture is in crisis throughout Africa. Soil erosion is rising and crop yields are falling.
Meanwhile Africa’s population is expected to more than double to 2.3 billion by 2050. New farming methods are needed to increase productivity, nutrition and livelihoods, while also conserving the land for future generations.