Long term plan
In November 2009, the Daoists launched their long term plan to protect the living planet. Amongst more than 30 faith plans they celebrated the launch at Windsor Castle in the presence of HRH The Prince Philip, founder of ARC, and UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon who, during his speech, reminded the faith representatives that "You can, and do, inspire people to change".
According to figures from the International Daoist Forum in 2011 there are over 90,000 Daoist Masters in the two principal schools of the tradition, with some 30,000 places registered for Daoist religious practices and countless other unregistered sites of worship. Tens of millions of people in China follow Daoist practices, and millions more engage in pilgrimages and visits to Daoist sites every year. So what a difference they can make!
The Daoist Eight Year Plan runs from 2010 to 2017, and is divided into six key areas of environmental action:
Providing ecological education and raising environmental awareness. This would require Daoist temples to set up specific information boards on environmental protection, and to display educational materials and posters. Their target is that by 2015 there are ecological educational projects running in half of all the Daoist temples in inland China including, amongst other programmes, summer youth camps to encourage the young to get involved.
Maximising the ecological benefit achieved from Daoist resources. The Eight Year Plan urges Daoist temples to plant trees and other vegetation with an emphasis on protecting old and well-known trees, and calls for a better general use of green places and resources around Daoist temples. It also focuses on healthier and more environmentally friendly style of pilgrimage and travel, promoting the practice of “three stick incense burning” in order to reduce the pollution caused by burning unnecessarily high amounts of incense, candles, papers and fireworks on Daoist premises.
Promoting Daoist ecological traditions and wisdom. This part of the Plan is about trying to achieve simple living through spiritual reflection with a focus the environment. It includes: writing prayers about the environment; cooperating with forest and tourist organisations to hold activities that will help protect Daoist sacred mountains; and collecting traditional stories on environmental protection to provide useful lessons for today. From 2010 to 2013 the Daoists plan to collect the stories written by the local temples, and then to print and distribute them across China.
Living daily life with environmental awareness and action. The Plan suggests that Daoists should select their daily timetable and their food according to natural principles; their lifestyle should be environmentally friendly. It also says that energy saving actions should be the standard for Daoist temples, and that they should establish structures that will help them to reprocess and recycle used items and waste. Temples capable of doing so should also set up sewage cleaning systems.
Co-operating with non-Daoist environmental departments. The Plan states that by "asserting standards, rules and regulations of government, we hope to attract the attention of environmental departments of different levels of government." This area of the Plan aims to increase media coverage of Daoist eco-actions, such as the “spiritual Daoist temple”, and to enhance the connections with international environment organisations such as ARC, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and EMF (Ecological Management Foundation).
Advocacy and Celebration. This section urges Daoists to emphasise ecological concepts in their traditional festivals, such as the birthday of the Supreme Lord Laozi. By focusing on the arts the Plan commits to producing ecological songs, dances and paintings, and to sharing these through TV and radio, the internet, concert celebrations and temple fairs, in order to help pilgrims and visitors understand the concept of Daoist Ecology. It also plans to incorporate International Environment Day activities into the Daoist religious calendar.
To read the full Eight Year Plan please click here.
Daoist Plan in Chinese
Full list of 31 faith plans