Seven Key Areas
Faith-consistent use of assets
Health, hospitality and food
The first of the Seven Key Areas, Faith-Consistent Use of Assets, is a big one. Faiths are major stakeholders in the physical planet when it comes to land, buildings, forests and water – and that's before we get to health care, financial investments and microfinance, and purchasing power and consumption, all of which fall into this category. For that reason, we have split this section into several pages. Here we focus on health, hospitality and food.
And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner (saying), ‘We feed you for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you'.
Surat Al-Insan, Qur'an 76:8
Managing hotels, hospitals and cafés for people and planet
Faiths are significant providers of hospitality, whether catering for visitors to their hotels, guesthouses, cafés, restaurants, retreat centres and pilgrim hostels, or caring for people in hospitals, orphanages and care homes. The Catholic Church alone manages around a quarter of the world's healthcare facilities, for example.
In addition, many faiths have major catering operations, or supply food to the needy, both of which involve significant purchasing decisions. For example, the Sikh community serves an estimated 30 million meals a day to all who come to the free kitchens attached to their gurdwaras. During the Holy month of Ramadan, many Muslims donate to feed the hungry, while in all major faiths rites of passage such as births, marriages and deaths often involve generous catering,
Questions to consider as you develop your Faith Plan.
The guide below provides prompts and pointers when purchasing goods or providing hospitality for the benefit of people and planet. You can also download a copy of the questions to work offline.
HEALTH, HOSPITALITY and PURCHASING DECISIONS
First steps: Explore your faith’s theology of the protection & care of life.
1. If you provide any form of hospitality (eg, through hotels, guesthouses, retreat centres, or hospitals, orphanages, etc), do you have a sustainable management plan on the use of water, sanitation, hygiene, supplies, buildings, transport, electricity, waste etc? If not, could you develop one?
2. Which areas of your hospitality 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?
3. One of the biggest driving forces behind the illegal wildlife trade is the use of wildlife (especially endangered species) in some traditional medicines. How can you reduce demand for such products? Can you help identify alternative sustainable herbal remedies that can be used instead?
4. How can you promote a change in attitude among your followers so that demand for wildlife species in traditional medicines is reduced?
FOOD, FARMING and PURCHASING
Next steps: Identify what kind of food is sourced and served by your hospitality and catering outlets.
1. Have you looked at the sourcing of the food served to patients and visitors? Have you mapped where your food comes from?
2. Your purchasing decisions have more power than you may realise. How can your hospitality and retail outlets improve the ethical and ecological impact of their food sourcing?
3. Can you increase the amount of food that is grown locally, in season, without pesticides and according to nature-friendly principles? In its recommendations for catering organisations, the UK’s leading organic organisation, the Soil Association has a programme called Food for Life. It recommends the 75-50-30 principle for ethical food sourcing, ie, that the food you buy should be at least:
75 per cent mainly unprocessed;
50 per cent locally sourced;
30 per cent organic.
FOOD and FARMING cont.
Next steps: Consider the way you cater for your community
1. Cooking for large numbers of people is highly energy intensive. How can your hospitality and retail outlets both save energy and also increase their use of renewable sources of energy?
2. When organising funerals, baptisms, circumcisions, etc, can you recommend catering companies that demonstrate environmental excellence in their sourcing and operations? How about conferences and meetings?
3. Can you reduce or end the use of disposable plates, cups and cutlery
in your festivals and celebrations and within your community more generally?
FOOD and FARMING cont.
Next steps: Consider how you can engage your community on nature-friendly food and farming
1. 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?
2. Have you considered helping your local community improve their farming and growing practices? Could you train them in climate-friendly, sustainable farming methods?, or link up with organisations that can do so?
3. Faith communities own a great deal of land that is leased to tenant farmers for agricultural production. Do you have environmental guidelines and principles for how that land should be managed?
Practical benefit: Islamic Farming workshop demonstrates how mulching helps prevent
water run-off and maximises the benefits of irrigation
Islamic approach to farming speaks to farmers in the language of the Qur'an
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.