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Prince Philip promises to keep supporting ARC's work as long as he can

December 12, 2014:

HRH Prince Philip with ARC's Secretary General Martin Palmer Photo: ARC/Katia Marsh

ARC celebrated our 20th year at Buckingham Palace last week, and our founder, Prince Philip, promised to keep supporting our work as long as he had the strength to do so.

And he particularly emphasised the importance of ARC staying true to its original role as a broker between religions and environment groups, and to its original simplicity.

Prince Philip remembered how the idea of an alliance between religions and conservation organisations started, back in 1986 (almost ten years before it became a charity in its own right).

He said that it started as an association where people can join in… not a membership organisation but a consultative organisation. From the very beginning, the aim was that there should be nothing formal about this association, and with no attempt to persuade everyone to do the same thing…

And from its small beginnings, he said he’s been delighted to see how the religious communities themselves began to make a more positive contribution towards protecting the environment.

“When Prince Philip and I founded ARC in 1995 we were both very conscious that a lot of organisations/NGOs/worthy groups come into being and then, after a while, just go on being in order to go on being,” said ARC Secretary General Martin Palmer.

At the lunch at Buckingham Palace, ARC highlighted a number of its key initiatives, some of which will now become independent organizations as part of the wider ARC Family. Photo: ARC/Katia Marsh
“We wanted to ensure that ARC did not fall into that "Oh we're here so we ought to carry on because we're here" trap, and so we set an initial (period of) 19 years.

“So I think what happened at the lunch was that we said thank-you to a lot of things that were good but which now will go their own way, and we said welcome to a return to what we do best.”

“Personally I was again enormously touched by the fact that his Royal Highness, when asked "So what will your role be?", pointed at me and said: "Well it's rather up to Palmer, isn't it?" And I think, if we're going to be honest about ARC, ARC has been the success it is because His Royal Highness has believed in it; he loves what we do, he is amused by what we do, he is fascinated by what we do, he enjoys engaging with the people we engage with.

“And the fact that he wishes, at 93, to continue to play that role with ARC and with me is, I think, the highest honour I could ever think of and I believe it's an enormous statement about why this foundation, this programme of working with the faiths and working with the sacred groups has a very exciting future. It's a future where we go back to doing what we do best in order to move forward to make the world very different.”

Four new environmental movements

At the lunch at Buckingham Palace, ARC highlighted a number of its key initiatives, some of which will now become independent organizations as part of the wider ARC Family.

These initiatives include Faithful Farming - a conservation agriculture project which has started in Africa but looks set to spread world wide; EcoSikh, linking Sikhs and the environment with a new sponsor now on board; Faith in Water - a programme working with faiths to promote the environmental protection of fresh water and encouragement of good hygiene practices in faith schools worldwide in partnership with Unicef and the New Psalmist Baptist Church; and a new ARC partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

Alongside this, ARC’s well-established China programme will continue in partnership with The Valley Foundation.

Key invitees at the Palace included:

Brian Pilkington (Chair of ARC’s Board of Trustees since 1996)
Raffaello Cervigni (lead environmental economist for the Africa region of the World Bank)
Yuan Fan (Deputy General Manager of China Daily, UK)
Master GE Huifang (from the Loguan Daoist Temple)
Pierre L. van Hedel (Managing Director of the Rabobank Foundation, the social fund of the large Dutch bank)
Olav Kjørven (Director of the Public Partnerships Division at UNICEF)
Gopal Patel (Director of The Bhumi Project, an initiative that works with the international Hindu community to raise awareness about environmental concerns)
Allerd Stikker (CEO of the Valley Foundation)
Dr. Rajwant Singh (Founder and Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) who helped launch EcoSikh in 2009)
Jean-Pierre Sweerts (Chairman of the Board of DOB Foundation)
Bishop Walter S. Thomas, Sr. (from the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland
Suneet Singh Tuli (CEO of Datawind who co-founded the Aakash tablet and has worked with NGOs in India and Africa to provide low cost tablet computers to millions of students)
Peter Wheeler (Executive Vice President of The Nature Conservancy)



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December 12, 2014:
Prince Philip promises to keep supporting ARC's work as long as he can
ARC celebrated our 20th year at Buckingham Palace last week, and our founder, Prince Philip, promised to keep supporting our work as long as he had the strength to do so.
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