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New "Assisi Award" for faith-based conservation launched - by scientists

February 18, 2016:

Assisi is the birthplace of St Francis, patron saint of animals and conservation. PHOTO: Katia Marsh

The Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group (RCBWG) of the Society for Conservation Biology has launched a new ‘Assisi Award’ for inspiring faith-based conservation initiatives.

ARC has been asked to tell as many people as possible about it.

The first awards will be presented at the next international meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, to be held in Latin America in 2017.

This non-monetary award is intended "to acknowledge organisations and individuals from around the world that demonstrate outstanding successes in conserving the Earth’s biological diversity based on their faith and spiritual understanding".

The award will look at, and highlight, initiatives conceived by both mainstream religious groups and indigenous traditions, and will be assigned based on evidence of conservation achievements and coherence with the spiritual values that drove the initial and ongoing conservation efforts.

According to a spokesperson from the RCBWG, the Assisi Award will serve "to reinforce the ongoing dialogue between faiths and conservation, and celebrate intangible spiritual motives as a fundamental driver of conservation."

It is named after a key event held in Assisi in 1986 by WWF, where the movement that became the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, was founded, and which has led to so many other initiatives.

"It's a major move forward that the scientific community is acknowledging and honouring the role of religions in this way," said ARC's Martin Palmer.

"I really look forward to seeing the list of nominees and the winner next year – I'm sure there'll be exciting initiatives to learn about.

I hope that this award will not only help highlight some of them, and help them apply for funding and support, but that it will inspire others, through their own spiritual background, to do something more and wonderful to protect the Earth."

Please see attached document for more details and nomination criteria.

Background to the RVBWG

The aim is to "celebrate intangible spiritual motives as a fundamental driver of conservation." PHOTO: Katia Marsh
According to the Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group (RCBWG) website: "Religion is a component of all cultures and frequently the guiding and controlling component through which societies legitimize themselves. Although not always obvious, religion is generally pervasive throughout cultures and is often the unifying principle of a society. Religions have played a substantial role in formulating views of nature and defining relationships of the roles of humanity in nature, thus, inextricably linking religious life and natural systems. It is increasingly recognized that religions can help make essential and substantial contributions to rethinking and responding to the world environmental crisis.

Religion and theology are “greening” and will continue to do so and the religious focus on the environment now appears to be an irreversible theme of theological inquiry and religious life. In this regard, there is an increasing call for growing cooperation between science and religion in addressing environmental issues. An understanding of religious concepts and how they are applied to governance and daily life is essential to the implementation of effective and lasting conservation management strategies. The knowledge of the activities and principles and practices of conservation biology is essential to those whose perspective is primarily informed by religion and theology.

The Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group is involved in helping to build bridges of information and understanding between these diverse but increasingly linked fields.


ARC Assisi meeting 2011

St Francis of Assisi: An inspiring life

Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group (RCBWG)

ARC and The Nature Conservancy Lambeth meeting of brokers between faiths and conservation

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