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Indonesia’s religions meet for first time since Bali bombing

24 December 2002:

BOGOR, INDONESIA. January 2003 – Faith is vital to the majority of people in the world – for some of the poorest it may be all they have. Surveys conducted by the World Bank in Indonesia have revealed that religious leaders are among the most trusted members of society, and that these might be the leaders who can help people remember to care for their environment.

At a meeting in Bogor, funded partly by the World Bank and by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, representatives from Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist and Confucian faiths, as well as NGOs will talk about how to heal the problems of the environment.

This is the first meeting of people from all of Indonesia’s major faith groups since the Bali tragedy.

The attendees will be discussing subjects that include the faiths’ different views on environmental destruction as well as looking at practical projects for the future.

In Islam for example there is the concept of khalifa, and a story in the Qur’an of how Mohammed was bathing in a river with a small bowl. Why did he use the bowl, his followers asked, if he could use the whole river. “But I only need a little water,” the Prophet pointed out. In Christianity there is a concept that “God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” And it is the world – in all its manifestations and wonders – that God loved, not just humanity.

The aim of this meeting is to create an environment in which people from different faiths can share their experiences, and get a sense that everyone, whatever their religous background is working together for the same aim – to care for the environment that everyone has to share.

Indonesia, like so many countries, is facing some potential environmental crises in the near future – stemming from rapid loss of forest, serious pollution of water through pesticide and sewage, coastal degradation and the quality of air in large cities including Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya. These problems can only be arrested with some serious actions by the people of Indonesia as well as by their government and by NGOs.

The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) was set up by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1995. It works with faith groups on environmental projects in 68 countries, providing seed money, experience, ideas and an active network of expertise from around the world.

ENDS

Link to Islam and Ecology page



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