Environment and Sustainability Identified as Key Australian Spiritual and Material Issue

On February 22, 2017, the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO) hosted a national interfaith forum at Parliament House, New South Wales. In roundtable discussions consisting of people from various Christian denominations, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Bahai’i, people identified the natural environment and sustainability as a key issue facing the spiritual and material health of Australia. They agreed that religions have to be part of the learning, the sharing of a variety of insights and of the much-needed action.

The participants from a range of religious traditions talked about the religious values that can help address some of the problems. They agreed that God is in everything, and that we are all interconnected, including inter-generationally. We need spiritual reformation to develop an ethic of enough to overcome greed, apathy and the consumer culture.  The emphasis placed on economic growth leads to waste, including of energy. We need to me more aware of where our food comes from and the impact of food production, including of meat.

The group made recommendations to government, to faith communities and to individuals.

To government:

There is a crisis.

Both knowledge and action are required.

Governments need to see faith communities as a resource and consult them on the many issues which are part of the crisis, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the dying Great Barrier Reef, water, food production, renewable energy, fossil fuel use and renewable energy.

If population growth is to be addressed, then gender equity and women’s education is crucial.

To faith communities:

Each religion should re-read its religious texts in light of scientific knowledge and ecological concerns.

Religion can be in dialogue with scientists regarding faith values and scientific knowledge about climate change.

The Faith Ecology Network provides a natural space for doing things together.

To individuals:

Humans have the capacity to care. Fulfilling our human role involves responsibility to act.

People of faith can be involved as environmental educators with others in the wider community.

For the full report on the APRO Forum see https://assembly.uca.org.au/rof/rof-news/item/2578-religious-values-and-the-value-of-religion-apro-forum