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Religion and economics

The Church meets The Bank: the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey (left) meets James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank (right), at Lambeth Palace

One of the groups invited to attend the birth of ARC in 1995 was the World Bank. This was at the specific request of the faith leaders attending the launch, as they felt that contemporary economics, symbolised by the World Bank, presented a vision of the world that ran directly against their own. They invited the Bank to come to see if it would be possible for a serious engagement to start between the perspective of the major faiths and the worldview of the World Bank.

This initial meeting was so successful that ARC at its birth was commissioned by the faiths to develop and strengthen this engagement. By 1997 the President of the World Bank was co-chairing a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury (organised by ARC at Lambeth Palace in London) at which the Bank agreed to work alongside the major faiths on developing alternative models of economic and ecological development. This work is carried out by the World Faiths and Development Dialogue, launched at the Lambeth meeting.

The commitment of the President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, to this engagement has been a determining factor. He has grasped the significance of the faiths as real partners in change, and has taken a deep personal interest in ARC’s projects.

The World Faiths and Development Dialogue is supported by the World bank under their Poverty and Development program (link opens in a new window).

This pioneering partnership challenges many stereotypes about the World Bank – and also about the world religions. It is explored in detail in the joint ARC/World Bank Book Faith in Conservation.

Find out more

Find out more about the World Bank and biodiversity at (link opens in a new window)


A Wealth of Faiths by Joanne O'Brien, Martin Palmer and Richard Prime, is a young persons's introduction to religion and economics, produced for the New Economics Foundation by members of the ARC team.

To learn about the on-going work of the World Faiths and Development Dialogue visit their website at (link opens in a new window).

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Related information

October 30, 2011:
Princess Michael of Kent to be guest of honour at Assisi
Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent has kindly agreed to be our guest of honour at the Sacred Land launch and celebration in Assisi, Italy. Unfortunately, due to illness, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will not be able to attend as planned.