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GPN Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

The green pilgrimage network website is now on green pilgrimage.net. This page has not been updated since June 2014. Please go here for a more recent update. 

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the Green Pilgrimage Network. Click on any of them to see the answers.

What is the Green Pilgrimage Network
When was it started?
Who are the members?
What do you need to do to join the GPN?
What does the vision statement intend to achieve?
Where is there information about this?
What kind of meetings do you have?
Are there regional chapters?
How is it funded?
Can the GPN fund environmental projects in my city/ pilgrimage place?
Where do I find out more?
What kind of successes has the Network had so far?
What do the new members of GPN plan to do?
How do I sign up for the newsletter?
1986: Beginnings at Assisi

What is the Green Pilgrimage Network (GPN?)

The GPN is a global network of pilgrim cities and sacred sites around the world wanting to be models of green action and care. Members of the GPN share a vision of pilgrims on all continents, and the pilgrim cities that receive them, becoming models of care for the environment and leaving a positive footprint on the earth.

It emerged from asking the questions: “Why are the world’s holiest places not the world’s cleanest and most cared for places? And can the fact that they are holy, or sacred, be used by people who live there and worship there, to make them greener?”

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When was it started?

The Network was launched in Assisi, Italy in November 2011. The idea emerged from a major meeting of faiths and environmentalists at Windsor Castle in November 2009, hosted by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and HRH Prince Philip, ARC’s founder. The event was supported by the United Nations and attended by UN Secretary-General HE Ban Ki-moon.

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Map showing location of GPN member sites as of July 2013 (except Mexico City)
Who are the members?

Map showing location of Mexico City
Originally there were 12 founding members from 10 different faith traditions:

1. Amritsar, India for Sikhs
2. Assisi, Italy for Catholics
3. Etchmiadzin, Armenia for Armenian Orthodox Christians
4. Haifa, Israel for Baha’is
5. Kano, Nigeria for Islam’s Qadiriyyah Movement
6. Louguan, China for Daoists
7. St Albans, UK for Anglicans
8. Trondheim, Norway for the Lutheran Church
9. Jerusalem municipality for Jewish, Christians and Muslim pilgrims to the city
10. Luss, for the Church of Scotland
11. St Pishoy Monastery in Egypt for the Coptic Orthodox Church
12. Jinja Honcho, the Association of Shinto Shrines in Japan


In Trondheim, Norway at the second GPN meeting in July 2013, another 16 members joined. They are:

1. The City of Nanded and Takhat Sri Hazur Sahib, India (Sikh)
2. The City of Puri and the Sri Jagannath Temple, India (Hindu)
3. Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand, India (place of Hindu pilgrimage)
4. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India (place of Hindu pilgrimage)
5. The City of Rishikesh and Parmarth Niketan Ashram, India (Hindu)
6. The City of Ujjain, India (Hindu)
7. The City of Varanasi, India (Hindu)
8. Mexico City Government (Catholic)
9. The City of Bethlehem (Christian)
10. Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Lower Jordan River Rehabilitation Project (sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims)
11. The Municipality of Santiago de Compostela (Christian)
12. The Municipal Council of Matale, Sri Lanke (Buddhist)
13. The Pilgrim Centre in Vadstena, Vadstena Dals Parish and the Linkoping Diocese of the Church of Sweden. (Christian)
14. The Diocese of Canterbury, Church of England. (Christian)
15. Norwich Cathedral, The Church of England. (Christian)
16. The Iona Community, Scotland (Christian)


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What do you need to do to join the GPN?

To join the GPN you must be representative of either a municipality or a faith group significant to a pilgrimage place.

You must, with your tradition or organization or municipality supporting you, sign up to the GPN vision statement….

The Green Pilgrimage Network Vision Statement

The vision of the Green Pilgrimage Network is of pilgrims, and the pilgrim cities and places that receive them, becoming models of care for the environment and leaving a positive footprint on this earth.

We, the members of the Green Pilgrimage Network support this vision, and commit to create an action plan to transform our pilgrim city, place or route into a green, sustainable model in keeping with the beliefs of our faith or the faiths of our pilgrimage place.

This action plan will be the roadmap for improving the environmental impacts of the city or place and pilgrimage routes. We will share this action plan with other members of the Green Pilgrimage Network.

Each of us also commits to bring faith and secular groups together to work in partnership towards this vision.

We pledge to promote this in the local media, and we will work with visiting pilgrims to make their journeys as environmentally friendly as possible. We will do this through greening our transport, accommodation, food, water supply, waste, sanitation and wild places, as well as encouraging green parks, environmental education and wildlife protection for and by local residents.

We also pledge to support and help each other, and to promote green pilgrimage ideas where we can.


And then of course, you must follow it through, and report back about your progress – both your successes and your failures so others can learn and be inspired.

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What does the vision statement intend to achieve?

It gives the opportunity for religious and secular authorities in a pilgrimage place, route or city to commit themselves to work together to draw up an action plan. The intention for this is to introduce good environmental practice to transform their pilgrimage place into a green, sustainable model and to share this and progress made with the GPN network.

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Where is there information about this?

The GPN is hosted by ARC. The ARC website has a GPN page and sends out regular newsletters to its members and anyone who is interested.

We also have a very comprehensive handbook, giving ideas about how you can make your pilgrimage place greener (and examples from others, who already have). You can download the handbook from here. As well as the original version it is also available in a version adapted for Hindu sites in India and another for Catholic sites, created for the World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, 2013.

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What kind of meetings do you have?

The GPN has irregular meetings. Our inaugural meeting was in Assisi in Italy in November 2011, followed by a meeting in July 2013 in Trondheim in Norway, hosted by ARC, the National Pilgrim Centre, the municipality of Trondheim and the Diocese of Nidaros.

In 2014 Jinja Honcho in Japan will host a GPN meeting in Ise, Japan to mark the rebuilding of the Grand Shrines of Ise.

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Are there regional chapters?

In Hyderabad, India in October 2012, several cities expressed interest in an Indian Chapter of the Green Pilgrimage Network. In November 2012, a meeting in Rishikesh in India initiated the formation of a Hindu group of pilgrim cities which will be part of the India Chapter.

It is hoped that this will have its inaugural meeting in late 2013/early 2014.

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How is it funded?

Funding for specific projects in the Network comes to ARC from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Norwegian Government.

ARC provides some small seed funding to selected projects in the Network for 2013-2014.

Cities and pilgrimage places that join the Network are responsible for drawing up their own action plans and funding their own programmes. However some have found that being part of the network, and using this constructive, planned approach to environmental action, can often attract local funding from faiths or municipalities.

Cities hosting meetings, such as Trondheim in Norway, are largely responsible for bearing the costs of each meeting.

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Can the GPN fund environmental projects in my city/ pilgrimage place?

Unfortunately not. Sometimes we can link you with groups that might provide advice on funding, such as the local government organization, ICLEI, who are working with Indian pilgrimage cities in this way. ICLEI brings expertise, for example, on green waste or sanitation or solar power. ICLEI is now carrying out assessments of six pilgrim cities in India looking at their environmental needs and how they might be met in partnership.

Sometimes, advice on funding can come through sharing what you are doing with other members who have accessed funding for similar work.

Sometimes new initiatives or ideas for spreading green pilgrimage practice requires little or no funding but rather a change in behaviour, practice or mindset.

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Where do I find out more?

We have regular newsletters on our website along with news of members’ action plans and any new developments. This is largely a web-based Network, inspiring others and sharing best practice and stories and examples among members and also the wider public, via the media etc.

You can see past issues of the newsletter here.

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How do I sign up for the newsletter?

The newsletter is mostly for members, but if you’d like to be added to the list then contact us using the form here, and let us know who you are and why you’re interested.

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What kind of successes has the Network had so far?

Since its initiation in 2011 the GPN has seen many inspiring and innovative developments throughout the original member pilgrimage sites. For examples of these achievements click here.

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What do the new members of GPN plan to do?

For information about the new members and their initial plans click the following links:

Nanded

Puri

Rajaji National Park & Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Rishikesh

Ujjain

Varanasi

Mexico City

Bethlehem

River Jordan - Friends of the Earth Middle East

Santiago de Compostela

Matale

Vadstena Pilgrimage Centre

Canterbury Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

The Iona Community

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Related information

July 25 2013:
PRESS RELEASE: Condolences to Santiago de Compostela pilgrim train crash
On the eve of our Green Pilgrimage Network meeting we express our sympathies for the pilgrims who died in the terrible train crash outside this holiest place.
Green pilgrimage network (GPN)
The vision is of pilgrims on all continents and the pilgrim cities that receive them, leaving a positive footprint on the Earth
April 25, 2013:
Green Pilgrimage Newsletter, April 2013
Updates from Trondheim, Jerusalem, India, Scotland and Buckingham Palace.