Is a healthy earth compatible with endless growth?

On 23 July 2015, FEN held a multifaith forum in Sydney on the topic of endless growth on a finite planet. The title of event was Healthy Earth, Endless Growth - are they compatible?

After a keynote speech by scientist and author Dr. Haydn Washington on the topic of the growth economy, five respondents from different faith traditions commented from their own faith perspectives.

A statement on the growth economy was then distributed to all participants. The statement was produced by FEN members from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.

The circulation of this statement was followed by a group discussion session, during which audience members shared their opinions and feelings regarding the topic. Here are some of the insights shared.


“Human beings are custodians of the land. This is a central theme to all faiths”.


“We might be near a tipping point in public opinion”


“The faith traditions have huge potential for motivating a change in consciousness”


“The power of 5 religions coming together”


“A scientist could talk about religious ideas – awe, joy, wonder, gratitude, restraint”


“We need positive, practical ways forward”


“The importance of hope – religion has a context in which to understand the hope”.


“We have an obligation to leave the earth in a way that will not hinder future generations”.


“Turning our concerns into actions and taking part in activities that will help slow down environmental decay”.


“There is a need to have wonder”


“Restraint, wisdom, frugality”


“How do we get the message across to non-religious people and secular society?”


“This is an emotional issue”.


“We need to figure out what do we need today


“There is a taboo on talking about over-consumption and overpopulation.”


“The ethical voice is missing from the debate”


“What’s coming up everywhere is the recognition that we do not sufficiently network with those who think like us. How can we continue the conversation?”


“The key is the need to lobby government – how can we do this most effectively?”


“Less is more”


“Disappointment that the faiths do not often put the theory into practice – where do we turn?”


“There’s a lot in theory but the practices are not demonstrating that. And how do we make that change? How do we begin to walk our talk?”


“How can people learn through ritual?”


“Basic greed – enough is not enough. All religions try to overcome this human weakness”.


“Stopping your desire, appreciating what you have and not expecting more – all the world is the creation of God”.


“All faiths have the same similarity to protect the earth: our home”.


“All religions, we have a shared story in protecting our environment. This is a powerful reason to come together”.


“Interfaith dialogue helps us to have open minds to respect others and hope we will have a better world”.


“The earth is a responsibility of everyone”.


“We need to wake up from living in a fairy land”.


“Religious people should be leading the green movement”.


“The FEN statement circulated did not mention overpopulation – it is the issue that is not mentioned and we don’t even mention that it is not mentioned. Yet the basic biblical text about population (Genesis 1:28) – ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’ – which is used to justify continuing population growth, has an inbuilt termination point: when the earth is filled! This needs pointing out”.



“Denial of the finite nature of earth is a huge problem which requires us to spin up a dialogue beyond our faith groups”.


“Respect for nature and living environmentally is inherent in each religion – who should be leading the environmental movement, putting these ethics into practice”.