In response to the Ecumenical Patriarch's invitation to participate in the symposium Revelation and the Environment participants have produced the following proposals for him to consider in formulating his response to the growing concern for the future of the world's environment.
The participants believe that in his support for the symposium, and the very positive atmosphere it achieved, the Patriarch can act as a leader not just in his, but for other religions to encourage global environmental awareness crucial to achieving a sustainable environment on earth.
1. A New Sense of Sin. All religions affirm as an imperative, the need to care for the Earth and for the whole of nature. To pollute the environment or not to take care of it should be seen as sin. This new sense of sin extends beyond what has been traditionally considered wrong.
This new category of sin should include activities that lead to:
-reduction in genetic diversity
-pollution of the hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere
-eutrophication of the hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere
-disruption of sustainable lifestyles
Specific examples discussed at the conference include:
-the imminent extinction of the Monk Seals
-continued abuse of the Black Sea.
2. Recognise and support the rights of traditional communities - recognising that indigenous peoples are the architects and stewards of sustainable management, the guardians, and in the case of crop plants and animals, the creators of biodiversity; we urge churches, scientists and environmentalists to support the cause of indigenous peoples and traditional communities throughout the world.
-protection of their lands
-protection of their ways of life
-recognition of their property rights.
3. Recognising the lack of environmental knowledge in many levels of society, the Church should encourage the development and implementation of education programs for audiences from all schools (including Sunday Schools) to adult (including seminary).
-a series of publications linking the religions of the world to their natural heritage
-at baptisms/weddings stress parental environmental responsibilities.
4. Recognising that the improvement of information exchange between Church, NGOs and government on environmental matters is of crucial importance, the Church should encourage efforts at planning, collaboration, and co-operation whenever and wherever possible.
-each church should appoint official environmental contacts at all levels of their organisation especially local churches
-support at least one major co-operative project for the Millennium such as the rehabilitation of the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, for example
-encourage governments to involve the public in all aspects of natural resource management
-the island of Patmos (not just its ecological centre) could become an environmental showpiece
5. Responding to the need for clear leadership, the Church should take positive steps in establishing sustainable and environmentally-friendly land-use practices, resource use and investments
-issue guidelines for sustainable use and best practice for all church lands
-all new or renovated religious edifices utilise the most efficient energy conservation and waste reduction and disposal technologies
-establish nature reserves or afforestation projects on all appropriate church properties
-all Church investments should be in 'green' or environmentally friendly sustainable businesses or investment portfolios.
6. Recognising the vital role that the world's media could play in promoting awareness of environmental issues, the Church should encourage the media to feature environmental issues on a more sustained and regular basis.
- make space on a regular basis to encourage environmental awareness and sustainable activities in all publications from parish newsletters to national and international press and television.
7. Recognising the urgency of the Earth's environmental problems, projects promoting the Patmos Proposals are of utmost urgency.
They could include:
-establishment of a Green Award(s) by the Church for, for example, a scientist, or environmental activist
-develop a Church outreach environmental agency (Orthodox NGO)
-institutionalise celebratory tree planting (birth, wedding, death)
-all faiths to promote a green will/trust option
-establishment of a cruising environmental educational vessel that would promote the Patmos Proposals
Ad hoc committee members: David Bellamy, Shahin Bekhradnia, Lynne Carter, Alexander Goldsmith, Michael Hanssler, David Shreeve