The increasing environmental concerns in relation to sustainable development have provoked the interest of various sectors ranging from government, faith based organisations (FBOs), private players, NGOs, institutions of higher learning and CBOS to focus on environmental conservation. Besides, the constitution of Kenya clearly stipulates the right of every Kenyan to a clean and secure environment. This is also backed by other blue prints documents such as Vision 2030 and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); however, there is need for joint efforts in actualizing this provision through participatory mechanisms that prioritizes information dissemination a personalized responsibility. We can highlight some of the key areas to demonstrate the opportunities and strength of the Faith based Organization in the areas of Environment and Sustainable Development.
Value based Conservation
Faith Based Organizations are key to the sustainable development in the society. The recent times have seen faith organizations strongly coming out to spearhead conservation initiatives. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism among other religions worldwide anchor their commitment to care for environment based on the values found in their respective scriptures, traditions and doctrines. Their strength is on the basis of: firstly the strong traditions, scripture and doctrine. Secondly the numbers and structures from top to the grassroots and thirdly the moral voice in the society.
Religiosity of man
Africans have been described as `notoriously` religious and all over the world it is true that people do believe in a reality that is higher and is that is also responsible for creation. In Christianity and Islam for that matter, God/Allah is believed to have created everything and gave human beings the responsibility of caring for His creation. Other religions in one way or another present the same faith in the Supreme Being in different ways. Caring for what God has created is therefore a divine mandate and not an option.
Every religion acknowledges that man is both spirit and body. While the believers consider themselves to be the citizens of heaven they remain also the inhabitants of this world even if for a short time. In preparation of the perfect and ideal world we anticipate the beauty of the things to come by first participating in this concrete world in solidarity with the rest of creation. Caring for environment is a common responsibility for all the occupants of the world.
Celebrating the heroes
The Catholic Church traditionally commemorates the feast of St Francis of Assisi, who is considered the patron saint of nature on 4th of October. This day has since become important even in the world history as the World Animals Day. Besides, the figure of St. Francis of Assisi has an interfaith value, which is very much celebrated as an icon of interreligious dialogue for a peaceful world. The Christians observe this special day in collaboration with the other faith groups as a faith-based environmental day every year. Other religions observe similar feasts during certain events to celebrating the Mother Nature.
Faith groups are involved in their communities in the long-term and sustainable development plans. They care for the generations to come rather than invest in short-term projects. Motivated by a sense of spiritual obligation or fulfillment, faith groups can bring about real, changes in the long-term.
Besides, faith groups own, sponsor or manage many institutions of learning in the world. The impact that such institutions may have in a country like Kenya and in fact in the world over is enormous
Faith owned land and economy
Faiths are among the most organized forms of civil society in the entire world, they own habitable land surface, forests that are commercially viable and sometimes used as sacred places of worship. In this age when the whole world is focusing on sustainable development, faith organization can offer strategic direction for the future in a very definite manner.
They are among the largest investment blocks on the global stock market; they are trusted as a source (often the leading source) of wisdom, information and authority in communities in many parts of the world. In times of hardship they are looked up to as source of source of refuge.
The environmental concerns are touching on every aspect of human existence. Every sector must join hands to address them. Faith organization are not excluded in this fight. It is a common journey that we must all makes together in order to reach the desired destination.