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PBS video highlights ARC’s role in religious environmentalism in China

October 28, 2014:

Martin Palmer is one of the principal contributors to a video report on the on-line Religion and Ethics Newsweekly section of the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The report focuses on the links between the re-emergence of religion in China and the country's need to confront environmental degradation associated with its recent economic development.

Made by correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the video features Chinese and Tibetan Buddhists speaking of the way their culture has survived official condemnation and the strength of the relationship it gives them with the natural world. Tibetan Buddhist monk Tashi Sange says this is most important: “Who will protect the environment? In the West and China it’s the Government’s responsibility but … this is not the Buddhist way. You are the protector … you are all responsible.”

Tashi Sange remembers how his Tibetan parents taught him the spiritual significance of the river
In the video Martin Palmer is able to speak of his experience as Secretary General of ARC in being directly consulted by Chinese officials and Government ministers keen to harness traditional Chinese values to address the social and environmental problems of consumerism. He concludes: “My sense is that the partnership between religion and government around environment is only going to get stronger and stronger.”

ARC and China

ARC has been working with Chinese Buddhists, Daoists and Confucianists as they have become able to re-establish themselves in Chinese society. In 2013 ARC added a whole section in Chinese to this website, reflecting the breadth of the work and the pace of environmental development in the country. The sacred Daoist city of Louguan in Shaanxi Province was one of the founding members of the Green Pilgrimage Network established by ARC in 2011 and since that time three further Daoist shrines have joined the GPN.

In September 2013 Confucianists launched the International Confucian Ecological Alliance (ICEA) at a special ceremony in the sacred city of Deng Fen, Henan Province. In partnership with ARC this new organisation is drawing up an eight year plan to establish Confucianism as a major force for environmental action in China, including developing a network of 500 Confucian centres to model sustainable living.

Dutch industrialist and ecologist Allerd Stikker, a partner of ARC's for many years, recently published a fascinating account of the organisation's ongoing engagement with Daoism in his book 'Sacred Mountains'.

Further information

The PBS video is available to watch on-line.

Read more about 'Sacred Mountains'

Further information on the ICEA

Green Pilgrimage Network

Chinese section of the ARC website

China Dialogue article by Martin Palmer about Daoism and Confucianism and the environment

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