Faith groups get lessons in sustainability

A national pilot to engage faith groups on the importance of adopting more sustainable lifestyles has been carried out in Peterborough.

The three-year project undertaken by Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) trialled the dissemination of pro-environmental messages within faith networks, with the aim to raise awareness about climate change and how behavioural change can help tackle the issue.

Five different faith groups – Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Buddhist – took part in a range of interactive, hands-on workshops and attended green events to share eco-friendly tips with other members of their communities.

A report published last year by Forum for the Future suggested that religious leaders and groups can be critical intermediaries in the promotion of environmental messages.

The overall results of the project are still being evaluated by PECT, but the project is being hailed as an important next step for Peterborough’s aspiration to become the UK’s Environment Capital, ensuring that a more diverse range of people are engaged with the city’s programme.

PECT project officer Karen Lawrence who led on the project said that most faiths have religious teachings about preserving the environment and the initiative helped apply those teachings in a practical way.

She said: “It’s usually the poorest people of the world who are hit first and hardest by the effects of climate change. The everyday actions of people living in richer parts of the world directly contribute towards climate change and impact on those living in the poorest parts of the world.

“Raising awareness of this fact has encouraged faith groups in Peterborough to change their behaviour to live in a greener way.”
Students from Iqra Academy have been taking part in the project.

Teachers at the school have seen students use their initiative to make the school more sustainable, for example by ensuring the school stocks Fairtrade goods. The environment is also now a key part of the Academy’s curriculum.

Maxine Perella

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