Category Archives: Stewardship & Sustainability

World’s major religions present action plans on environment

BWNS Story

WINDSOR, United Kingdom — Leaders representing the world’s major religions, including the Baha’i Faith, gathered yesterday at historic Windsor Castle to formally launch a series of action plans involving their communities in a long-term effort to protect the environment.

They were joined by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and HRH The Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in a celebratory meeting that emphasized the role religion can play to inspire grassroots change and make “peace with the planet.”

“I have long believed that when governments and civil society work toward a common goal, transformational change is possible,” said Mr. Ban. “Faiths and religions are a central part of that equation.

“Indeed, the world’s faith communities occupy a unique position in discussions on the fate of our planet and the accelerating impacts of climate change,” he said. [Read more…]

Baha'i delegates Arthur Lyon Dahl and Tahirih Naylor receive certificates. They are pictured with Prince Philip, founder of ARC; Martin Palmer of ARC; and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

Baha’i delegates Arthur Lyon Dahl and Tahirih Naylor receive certificates. They are pictured with Prince Philip, founder of ARC; Martin Palmer of ARC; and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon

Related Story – Barney Leith’s observations on the Windsor Summit.

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Blog Action Day 2009: Addressing Climate Change

In observance of Blog Action Day 2009 we joined more than 13,000 bloggers from around the world with a post on climate change. At last count, the topic had been probed by bloggers in 155 countries, reaching a combined readership of more than 18 million. This may set a record for social networking. It is certainly timely as an expression of support for a fair, binding and effective international agreement on climate change in Copenhagen in December!

Blog Action

Climate change comprises one of the greatest challenges the human race has ever faced, and (as noted in numerous posts on this site and others), it has profound moral and ethical dimensions. Those who have contributed least to the problem stand to suffer the greatest consequences. Nonetheless, ultimately we all lose if we don’t act responsibly now, both to mitigate the causes of climate change and help those who are vulnerable adapt to its impacts.

Climate change is testing humanity’s vision and will. Shall entrenched national and sectarian interests prevail, or shall we seize the opportunity hidden within climate change to rise to a new level of human maturity – the next stage in our collective evolution?

Such a step will require us all, individually and collectively, to recognize ourselves as citizens of one world and take responsibility for the wellbeing of all the inhabitants of the planet. An effective future agreement on climate change must have at its core the principle of the oneness of humanity.

Conference: Religion joins with science to address environment issues

(Baha’i World News Service Story – September 17, 2009)

WASHINGTON — People’s spiritual beliefs affect their attitude toward climate change, with religious groups increasingly helping to frame humanity’s response to environmental issues.

That was one of the messages from a session at the 33rd annual conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies, held in mid-August in Washington, D.C. The gathering drew nearly 1,000 participants from some 20 countries.

The theme of the conference was “Environments,” and one of the plenary speakers was Peter G. Brown, a geography professor at McGill University in Montreal who has participated in the Moral Economy Project of the Quaker Institute for the Future.

(Read more…)

HOME: The story of the human impact of life on Earth

The 90 minute video, HOME, is a powerful narrative of life on Earth and the impact of humans on Earth’s life systems.  It begs the question – what are we to do given this information?  It’s worth a watch and a discussion.

Greening the Flock: How Should Religious Institutions Foster Sustainability?

The August 2009 issue of Sustainability: the Journal of Record featured a roundtable discussion entitled, “Greening the Flock: How Should Religious Institutions Foster Sustainability?”PeterAdriance, NGO Liaison for the Baha’is of the U.S., moderated the discussion with nine other leaders in the field: William Aiken (Sokka Gakkai International-USA Buddhist Association); Peter G. Brown (Moral Economy Project – Quaker); Cassandra Carmichael (National Council of Churches); Nicola Coddington (NY Interfaith Power and Light); Rabbi Fred Dobb (Reform Judaism); Rachel Novick (Office of Sustainability, Notre Dame University); Fr. John Rausch (Catholic Committee of Appalachia); Rabbi Daniel Swartz (Reform Judaism); and John Wood (Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies).

The discussion touched on the role of religion in fostering sustainability, the level of guidance provided by religious texts, the dynamic balance between practical and spiritual elements, the relationship between science and religion, and how religions can contribute to sustainability efforts on college campuses.

Click here for a PDF of the article

(Reproduced by permission from Sustainability:  The Journal of Record, August 2009, http://www.liebertpub.com/sus)

Bahá’í Gardens as Catalysts for Neighborhood Transformation – by Bill Gregg

This post is an abstract and bio from a session at the larger ABS Conference, which we are posting due to its potential interest to IEF members. Thanks to Bill Gregg for making his PowerPoint available.

ABSTRACT — I hypothesize that religious organizations have important opportunities to create gardens for spiritual inspiration and to partner with others to demonstrate the potential of gardens to enhance the spiritual life and foster harmonious development of their neighborhoods. As an example of this approach, I review efforts of a Bahá’í community in West Virginia to create gardens at their new Bahá’í Center and encourage integration of gardens in the surrounding landscape. Relevant experience at other Bahá’í Centers in North America is discussed.

BIO — Bill Gregg is an ecologist and an avid gardener. Before retiring in 2004, he worked for 33 years at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where he coordinated research on environmental issues, and participated in international scientific activities in many countries. He became a Bahá’í in 1979.)

Download PowerPoint as PDF here.


Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change

The Baha’i International Community yesterday endorsed an Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change.  Excerpts follow:

Stewardship and reverence for creation are central tenets of all faiths on Earth. Yet today we are endangering life on Earth with dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions. These gases are destabilizing the global climate system, heating the Earth, acidifying the oceans, and putting both humanity and all living creatures at unacceptable risk….

We recognize that climate change is not merely an economic or technical problem, but rather at its core is a moral, spiritual and cultural one. We therefore pledge to join together to teach and guide the people who follow the call of our faiths. We must all learn to live together within the shared limits of our planet.

We recognize that just as climate change presents us with great challenges, so too it offers great opportunities. Mitigating climate change can stimulate economies sustainably, protect our planet, lift up the poor, and unite to a common cause people threatened by a common danger. Assisting vulnerable communities and species to survive and adapt to climate change fulfills our calling to wisdom, mercy, and the highest of human moral and ethical values.

We commit ourselves to action – to changing our habits, our choices, and the way we see the world – to learning and teaching our families, friends, and faiths – to conserving the limited resources of our home, planet Earth, and preserving the climate conditions upon which life depends.

In this spirit, we call upon our leaders, those of our faiths, and all people of Earth to accept the reality of the common danger we face, the imperative and responsibility for immediate and decisive action, and the opportunity to change.

Endorsements are being sought from all major religions and help has been requested in obtaining signatures.  To read more about the intent of the document, click here.