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Church heads can help environment: Prince Philip

South China Morning Post, 29 July 2003:

By Kevin Kwong – in Young Post, South China Morning Post, July 29 2003

If you think conservation and religion have little in common then you are in for a surprise. In a recent interview, Prince Philip, husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II said religious leaders had an important role to play in educating the masses about environmental protection.

Speaking to the Alliance of Religious and Conservation (ARC) which aims to “assist and enable the faiths of the world to respond to the environmental challenges of the 21st Century” the 82-year-old said religious heads were “in touch with their local population more than anywhere else.”

When asked what first gave him the idea of bringing conservationists and religious leaders together, Prince Philip, who founded ARC in 1995 said: “In the 1980s WWF [World Wide Fund for Nature] International was trying to do three things around the world: raise money, develop conservation projects and educate the public. The first two things were fine but the last one had real difficulties.

“I argued that the kind of education we were doing through articles, lectures, books and films and things of that sort only reached the educated and probably only the middle classes in the various countries. The people that we needed to get to were the ones who lived in the areas of greatest risk.

“It occurred to me that the people who could most easily communicate with them were their religious leaders. They are in touch with their local population more than anyone else. And if we could get the local leaders to appreciate their responsibility for the environment then they would be able to explain that responsibility to the people of their faith.”

The prince added that it didn’t seem “a particularly bright idea at the time” but the relationship was obvious.

“If your religion tells you that the creation of the world was an act of God then it follows naturally that if you belong to the church of God then you ought to look after His creation,” he said.

Prince Philip also expressed his concerns about the state the world is in today: “A lot of good things are happening in some parts of the world… but there’s bad news too. Of course anywhere there’s civil war or civil unrest or lack of civil control it’s always the natural environment that gets it in the neck.”

reproduced from Young Post, South China Morning Post, July 29 2003

Read the full interview

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