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Alliance of Religions and Conservation


Abstract

The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) is a secular body that helps the world’s major religions develop their own environmental programs based on their core teachings, beliefs, and practices. ARC links religions with key environmental organizations, creating powerful alliances between religious communities and conservation groups. The Alliance works with eleven major religions (Baha’ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shintoism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism) as well as the key traditions or denominations within each. ARC recognizes the crucial role that the world’s religions have to play in addressing the environmental crisis: the eleven religions participating in the Alliance own seven percent of the habitable surface of the planet; if they invested together, they would be the world’s third largest identifiable block of holders of stocks and shares. Combined, these religions reach out to every village and town, have the trust of more people than any other national or international group, and their followers constitute at least two-thirds of the world’s population. By drawing on holy books, sacred sites, traditional farming, education networks, media, and the assets of the religions, ARC helps create environmental projects such as forest management, organic farming, alternative energy, socially responsible investing, educational projects, sacred nature reserves, urban planning, and professional development. Major current ARC projects include founding an International Interfaith Investment Group (3iG) with the intention of working with the investment arms of religions to create models for positive investment. The aim of this project is for each religion to assess its portfolios with due regard to its beliefs, values, the environment, and human rights “so that all life on Earth can benefit.” Another major initiative, the Asian-Buddhist Network, enables Buddhists from all corners of Asia to share their experiences with environmental projects within their communities.

Religion

Inter-religious: Shinto

Geographic Location

International

Duration of Project

1986–Present

History

The idea behind ARC emerged in 1986, when the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-International was celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. Its President at the time, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, suggested marking the occasion by inviting representatives of five major religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism) to the event, which was held in Assisi, home of St Francis, the Catholic patron saint of the environment. Prince Philip realized that WWF needed to connect with people who live in areas of greatest risk and where the potential for biological diversity is highest. Realizing that local religious leaders are often active and influential within their communities, he concluded that helping local religious leaders appreciate their responsibility for the environment and explain that responsibility to the people in their communities would raise environmental awareness around the globe. Following the 1986 Assisi event, WWF International established a program with the main religions to develop thousands of religion-based environmental programs. In 1992, Prince Philip was awarded the UN prize for ecology for the success of this work. Prince Philip founded ARC as a separate not-for-profit organization in 1995. Since then, it has worked on hundreds of projects in sixty-eight countries. These include reviving sacred mountains in Mongolia, protecting sacred forests in Lebanon, working with the Swedish Church on sustainable forest policies for its extensive landholdings, supporting the Zoroastrian community in Mumbai on vulture breeding programs, helping United Kingdom (UK) churches make their graveyards sanctuaries for rare flora and fauna, and helping Sheikhs in Zanzibar persuade local fishermen refrain from utilizing explosives as a fishing practice on the grounds that it is against Islamic law.

Partner Organizations

ARC’s primary aim is to assist and enable the religions of the world to respond to the environmental challenges of the Twenty-First Century.

Mission Statement

ARC usually works with local partners on a project-by-project basis. It also works with various religious and environmental organizations such as:

The China Taoist Association
Zoroastrian Alliance of Religions and Conservation
WWF International
The World Bank
Mlup Baitong in Cambodia
The Noah Project in the UK
The Association for Forestry Development and Conservation (AFDC) Lebanon
Conservation Foundation UK
The United Nations Environmental Program

Long-Term Goals

None Listed

Bibliography

None Listed

Additional Research Resources

None Listed

Contact Information

ARC
The House
Kelston Park
Bath, BA1 9AE
United Kingdom
Ph:       +44.0.1225.758004
Fax:     +44.0.1225.442962
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)