Here is the first of our series of thoughts on the conference. Ian Christie is a researcher and writer on various sustainability issues, attached to the RESOLVE group in Surrey and was also involved in the Church of England’s Shrinking the Footprint report.
He proposes various questions which would helpful to consider, in projects and other initiatives between academics, faith organisations and secular bodies:
- What are the conditions for effective sustainable development (SD) projects connecting faith groups and secular civil society bodies such as Transition Towns? A case study that could be worth doing would be on SD initiatives in Devon, connecting the TTs in the county with church-based schemes in Exeter Diocese, which has a dynamic head of environmental projects, Martyn Goss.
- Is there evidence of SD and environmental action being fruitful terrain for inter-faith collaboration that has positive spill-over effects for inter-faith and inter-community relations?
- How do we overcome attitudinal barriers to action among clergy and congregations?
- Robert Putnam et al’s US survey of religion and social capital, American Grace, needs to be emulated here and given specific focus on SD issues: is there evidence that members of faith communities can, once energised and equipped to change behaviours in the interest of environmental concern and eco-justice, be significant exemplars of sustainable living?
- The risks of an instrumental approach to SD and faiths and how these can be overcome.