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The Ohito declaration on religions, land and conservation, March 1995

3 May 1995:

This is the historical statement from the Conference on Religions, Land and Conservation held in Ohito, Japan, 27th of March to 6th of April 1995, later adopted at the Summit on Religions and Conservation held at Windsor Castle 29th of April to 3rd of May 1995.

The world community of faiths have been voiceless in the environmental debate and marginalised in the decision-making process is concerning the future of their own, planet earth. Yet, collectively, people of faith represent the most powerful voice in the world.

The Conference on Religion, Land and Conservation held in March 1995 brought together leading activists of the major world faiths in Ohito, Japan, under the auspices of Mokito Okada Association (MOA) supported by WWF, World Wide Fund for nature and ICOREC, the International Consultancy for Religion, Education and Culture. After nine days of discussion and reflection they produced a declaration which was subsequently adopted by the Summit on Religions and Conservation held in Windsor Castle, England, in May 1995. It draws attention to the global environmental crisis and the role which the faith communities need to play in motivating people to respect the land and preserve it for future generations.

“As we have found the first Conference on Religions, Land and Conservation mutually beneficial, we recommend that this gathering be reconvened every five years. This meeting will serve as a review and auditing process to chart the progress of the faith communities and their religious leaders.

We commit ourselves individually and jointly to take the principles agreed upon at the gathering to our various situations and work towards implementing them.

MOA organic farm, Ohito
We would encourage and welcome any projects and programmes which embody these principles and recommend that course of action.”

Signed on 6 April 1995 by:

Fazlun Khalid – Conference Chairman
Shoji Mizuno – Assistant Chairman
Jo Edwards – Conference Secretary
Paul Hanley – Baha’i
Jimmy Seow – Baha’i
Venerable Lobsang Gawa – Buddhist
Stephanie Kaza – Buddhist
Lucian Gavrila – Christian
Eddie Idle – Christian
Pat Lupo OSB – Christian
Shri Shiba Sankar Chakraborty– Hindu
Swami Akhandanand Sarasvati – Hindu
Shri Sanjay Rattan – Hindu
Shri Sewak Sharan – Hindu
Meir Lipshatz – Jew
Abdur Razzaq Lubis – Muslim
Fuad Nadi – Muslim
Mohammad Sharif Weideman – Muslim
Shigenobu Kanayma – MOA
Teruo Taniguchi – MOA

Expressions of concern

The health of the planet is being undermined by systematic breakdowns on several levels:

  • Faith communities are not taking effective action to the affirm the bond between humankind and nature, and lack accountability in this regard.
  • Human systems continue to deteriorate, as evidenced by militarism, warfare, terrorism, refugee movement, violations of human rights, poverty, debt and continued domination by vested financial economic and political interests.
  • Biological systems and resources are being eroded, as evidenced by the ongoing depletion, fragmentation and pollution of the natural systems. Recognising the important parallels between cultural and biological diversity, we feel a special urgency with regard to the ongoing erosion of cultures and faith communities and their environmental conditions, including the knowledge of people living close to the land.

MOA moss garden
Spiritual Principles

1. Religious beliefs and traditions call us to care for the earth.

2. For people of faith maintaining and sustaining environmental life systems is a religious responsibility.

3. Nature should be treated with respect and compassion, thus forming a basis for our sense of responsibility for conserving plants, animals, land, water, air and energy.

4. Environmental understanding is enhanced when people learn from the example of prophets and of nature itself.

5. Markets and trade arrangements should reflect the spiritual needs of people and their communities to ensure health, justice and harmony. Justice and equity principles of faith traditions should be used for maintaining and sustaining environmental life systems.

6. People of faith should give more emphasis to a higher quality of life in preference to a higher standard of living, recognising that greed and avarice are root causes of environmental degradation and human debasement.

7. All faiths should fully recognise and promote the role of women in environmental sustainability.

8. People of faith should be fully involved in the conservation and development process. Development of the environment must take better account of its effects on the community and its religious beliefs.

9. Faith communities should endorse multilateral consultation in a form that recognises the value of local/indigenous wisdom and current scientific information.

10. In the context of faith perspective, emphasis should be given not only to the globalisation of human endeavours but also to participatory community action.

Recommended Courses of Action

1. We call upon religious leaders to emphasize environmental issues within religious teaching: faith should be taught and practiced as if nature mattered. 2. We call upon religious communities to commit themselves to sustainable practices and encourage community use of their land.

3. We call upon religious leaders to recognise the need for ongoing environmental education and training for themselves and all those engaged in religious instruction.

4. We call upon people of faith to promote environmental education within their community especially among their youth and children.

5. We call upon people of faith to implement individual, community and institutional action plans at local, national and global levels that flow from their spiritual practices and where possible to work with other faith communities.

6. We call upon religious leaders and faith communities to pursue peace-making as an essential component of conservation action.

7. We call upon religious leaders and communities to be actively involved in caring for the environment to sponsor sustainable food production and consumption.

8. We call upon people of faith to take up the challenge of instituting fair-trading practices devoid of financial, economic and political exploitation.

9. We call upon the world’s religious leaders and world institutions to establish and maintain a networking system that will encourage sustainable agriculture and environmental life systems.

10 We call upon faith communities to act immediately, to undertake self-review and auditing processes on conservation issues on a regular basis.

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