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Alliance of Religion and Conservation

Abstract The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) is a secular body that helps the world’s major religions develop their own environmental programs based on their core teachings, beliefs, and practices. ARC links religions with key environmental organizations, creating powerful alliances between religious communities and conservation groups. The Alliance works with eleven major religions (Baha’ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shintoism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism) as well as the key traditions or denominations within each. ARC recognizes the crucial role that the world’s religions have to play in addressing the environmental crisis: the eleven religions participating in the Alliance own seven percent of the habitable surface of the planet; if they invested together, they would be the world’s third largest identifiable block of holders of stocks and shares. Combined, these religions reach out to every village and town, have the trust of more people than any other national or international group, and their followers constitute at least two-thirds of the world’s population. By drawing on holy books, sacred sites, traditional farming, education networks, media, and the assets of the religions, ARC helps create environmental projects such as forest management, organic farming, alternative energy, socially responsible investing, educational projects, sacred nature reserves, urban planning, and professional development. Current ARC projects include founding an International Interfaith Investment Group (3iG) with the intention of working with the investment arms of religions to create models for positive investment. The aim of this project is for each religion to assess its portfolios with due regard to its beliefs, values, the environment, and human rights “so that all life on Earth can benefit.” Another major initiative, the Asian-Buddhist Network, enables Buddhists from all corners of Asia to share their experiences with environmental projects within their communities.
Religion Inter-religious: Christianity
Geographic Location International
Duration of Project 1986–Present
History The idea behind ARC emerged in 1986, when World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-International was celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. Its President at the time, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, suggested marking the occasion by inviting representatives of five major religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism) to the event, which was held in Assisi, home of St Francis, the Catholic patron saint of the environment. Prince Philip realized that WWF needed to connect with people who live in areas of greatest risk and where the potential for biological diversity is highest. Realizing that local religious leaders are often active and influential within their communities, he concluded that helping local religious leaders appreciate their responsibility for the environment and explain that responsibility to the people in their communities would raise environmental awareness around the globe. Following the 1986 Assisi event, WWF International established a program with the main religions to develop thousands of religion-based environmental programs. In 1992, Prince Philip was awarded the United Nations (UN) prize for ecology for the success of this work. Prince Philip founded ARC as a separate not-for-profit organization in 1995. Since then, it has worked on hundreds of projects in sixty-eight countries. These include reviving sacred mountains in Mongolia, protecting sacred forests in Lebanon, working with the Swedish Church on sustainable forest policies for its extensive landholdings, supporting the Zoroastrian community in Mumbai on vulture breeding programs, helping churches in the UK make their graveyards sanctuaries for rare flora and fauna, and helping Sheikhs in Zanzibar persuade local fishermen not to use explosives as a fishing technique because it is against Islamic law.
Mission Statement ARC’s primary aim is to assist and enable the religions of the world to respond to the environmental challenges of the Twenty-First Century.
Partner Organizations

ARC usually works with local partners on a project-by-project basis. It also works with many religious and environmental organizations such as:

The China Taoist Association
The Zoroastrian Alliance of Religions and Conservation
WWF International
The World Bank
Mlup Baitong in Cambodia
The Noah Project in the UK
The Association for Forestry Development and Conservation (AFDC) Lebanon
Conservation Foundation UK
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP)

Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
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