Monday, 31 October 2011

A Call to Integrate Faith, Ecology and the Global Economy

Last week at its annual meeting in Chicago, Quaker Earthcare Witness approved sending to UNCSD as a statement of goals for Rio+20:

A Call to Integrate Faith, Ecology and the Global Economy by over 100 faith groups (signatories below) -- this 12 Nov 2009 declaration comes from the Faith Economy Ecology group in the USA started by Maryknoll, joined by Quakers and others. In Canada, Faith and the Common Good and Kairoscanada have made similar statements. See also the June 2010 declaration from the Interfaith Summit in Winnipeg, the 2004 World Alliance of Reformed Churches’ (WARC) Accra Confession, and the Oct 2010 World Council of Churches' Budapest Call for Climate Justice.
As hope-filled people, we stand in awe of Earth’s goodness and its capacity to provide abundant life for all God’s creation. We recognize our interconnection with Earth — with air, water, land, plants and other creatures. We recognize the dignity of the human person as an individual and as part of a community. We embrace our power and responsibility to create a human economy that fits within Earth’s ecological boundaries, more authentically serves human needs and builds community.
We envision:
    •    A new economic model that embodies social and ecological values bound by Earth’s biophysical limits.
    •    A sufficiency-based economy where all people, regardless of gender, race or other characteristics, equitably share access to Earth’s gifts that nourish and sustain them: nutritious food, clean water, suitable shelter; where “development” is measured by a society’s success in increasing human well being while preserving ecological balance rather than by its gross domestic product.
    •    A just global distribution of resources, knowledge and technology such that well-being flourishes in communities of less industrialized nations that have experienced “underdevelopment” – and “de-growth,” or downsizing occurs in communities in industrialized nations that use a disproportionate share of Earth’s resources.
    •    A world where all have secure, meaningful, and ecologically responsible livelihoods and where human activity, based on cooperation, promotes ecological regeneration, the preservation of beauty and the restoration of previous damage.
    •    A “closed loop” real economy where recycling and reuse are maximized.
    •    People with sufficient resources, opportunities, freedom, and time to care for one another, engage in civic life, expand their creativity, and deepen their spirituality.
    •    Communities living in peace with sufficient public resources and freely shared knowledge to ensure health and wholeness for Earth and all its inhabitants.
    •    Governance that is participatory and transparent, through which policy decisions are made as locally as possible, consistent with the reality that every locality is part of a global society.
Yet we witness:
    •    The destructive power of a growth-driven economic model that ignores Earth’s limits and its need to rest and regenerate.
    •    The valuing of money and material goods more than humans and ecosystems.
    •    The inherent violence of an economy that grows along with the wealth of a few individuals and corporations while the natural world and human well being – the clearest signs of God’s bounty – suffer and deteriorate.
    •    The use of international financial institutions, corporate lobbying and marketing, think tanks, major media and military force to secure the wealth and power of a small part of society while a great many others, especially women and people of color are often excluded.
    •    “Free trade” and economic globalization that increase ecological depletion and leave masses of people vulnerable through deeper poverty and insufficient access to food, water, education and health care.
    •    The loss of people, cultures, species and traditional knowledge forced aside as our lives are dominated by a world view that seeks economic growth regardless of the consequences;
    •    Soul-deadening over-consumption and the endless quest for “more” that paralyzes far too many people in wealthier societies.
We also witness the sheer increase in throughput of material and energy in the economy due to expanding consumer demand and economic growth that contribute to climate change, species extinctions, loss of biodiversity, depletion of freshwater and other resources, ocean dead zones, topsoil degradation, deforestation, dying coral reefs and the decimation of ocean fish stocks.
We stand firm in our commitment to a new way of life and a different economy, based on the integrity and dignity of all creation, the common good, ecological health and resilience, sufficiency, equality, solidarity, caring for the most vulnerable and impoverished, and decision-making at the most local level possible. This will require innumerable inter-related changes; among them, the four that follow will serve to guide our work:
1) Paradigm Shift in Mindset and Values: An essential shift from an ethic of exploitation to an ethic of right relationship is essential for individuals and for society. This will entail change from a focus on material goods to holistic well-being; from excess to sufficiency; from exclusion to inclusion; from competition to cooperation; from pursuing privilege to serving the common good; from the pre-eminence of humanity to the reverence for all life.
Toward this end we will be guided by the wisdom of our sacred scriptures and religious traditions, especially Sabbath traditions of Leviticus and Deuteronomy and the inclusive table of Jesus, which
    •    provides enough for everyone, with no one storing up more than is needed;
    •    cares for the widow, orphan, stranger and traveler;
    •    honors a weekly Sabbath, providing rest and human restraint from busy, frenetic economic activities;
    •    allows the land to rest every seven years;
    •    decrees a Jubilee every 50 years, when slaves are freed, debts cancelled and families have their land restored to them; and
    •    models the breaking of bread, by creating strong communities built on care for one another.
2) Public policies for an Economy of Right Relationship: Starting from the deep recognition that the economy must fit within Earth’s limits – where resources are not used faster than they can be regenerated and wastes are not deposited faster than they can be safely assimilated. Policies must change to move toward a steady state economy in overdeveloped industrial countries and sustainable development in impoverished countries. Current institutions and rules must change so that individuals, communities and whole societies can participate equitably in the economy and share in Earth’s bounty. Financial institutions should embrace the principle of subsidiarity, allowing decisions to be made at the most local level possible. Priority should be given to policies that distribute wealth widely and decentralize economic power.
Toward this end we will seek to understand more fully what transformations are required to attain economic right relationship. We will promote a serious reorientation of the global economy away from growth and toward human development. We will pursue changes in laws, policies, international agreements, and institutions to create a more durable, resilient and fair economy. We will examine our lifestyles and decrease consumption. We will advocate for sustainable levels of resource use and safe quantities of waste production, including equitably assigned reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
3) An Economy of Thriving and Resilient Communities: In living the new paradigm and strengthening its hold on society we will shift from a perception of ourselves as independent individuals to ourselves as interdependent members of thriving communities. All have something to contribute as we give and receive gifts and talents among neighbors through barter systems, cooperatives and worker-owned businesses. Community-based investment and economic development will help individuals to deepen their connection with the place where they live and will keep resources circulating locally. This will build community assets and strengthen social ties. We will embrace subsidiarity – decisions will be made at the local level by the very people whose lives are impacted most.
Toward this end we will learn more from the sustainable community-level examples known well by indigenous peoples and already functioning in our local communities in the United Sates and around the world, spread those ideas, participate in them ourselves and express our solidarity by supporting their efforts.
4) Return of Corporations to their proper place in society: In order to achieve the changes described above, it is clear that we must decrease the amount of influence that corporations wield in government and society in general. The reigning forces in our world should serve the interests of the common good, rather than the private interests of a wealthy few. Corporations should be accountable not only to shareholders, but also to, their workers, regulatory bodies, the communities in which they are embedded, and the natural world.
Toward this end we will study the history and design of the corporation to better understand its proper role in a just world. We will declare a separation of corporation and state and work for initiatives to decrease corporate influence in government, the media and our lives. We will work to stop reckless financial practices that exploit natural resources and people. We will help cultivate financial institutions that respect Earth’s limits and ensure economic participation with dignity for all people.
Our call to others: Grounded in our faith and speaking from our core principles and values, we call on people of good will to join us in re-examining the false panacea of a development model dependent on over-consumption. We seek a new understanding of the proper place for humans in the created world and right relationships within the human community and between the human and Earth communities. We place our hope in God’s grace and the human capacity to face all these challenges with innovation, faithfulness, and creativity and to ensure the common good so that all living things might flourish.
November 12, 2009
Signing Organizations
Adorers of the Blood of Christ, United States Region; 
Bartimaeus Cooperative
; Bernardine Franciscan Sisters; 
Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy
; Center of Concern
; Collaborative Center for Justice; 
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
; Congregation of Divine Providence, Leadership Council
; Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes – Fond du Lac, WI; 
Congregation of the Humility of Mary
; Daughters of Charity, St. Louis, Provincial Council
Dominican Sisters, Grand Rapids, MI
; Dominican Sisters of Springfield Leadership team
; Dominicans of Sinsinawa Leadership
; Faith and Money Network, Inc.; 
Franciscan Action Network; 
Franciscan Sisters and Associates of Little Falls, Minnesota
; Franciscan Sisters of Allegany; 
Holy Cross International Justice Office; 
Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters JPIC, USA; 
International Presentation Association of Presentation Sisters (IPA)
; Leadership Conference of Women Religious; 
Leadership Council of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – Monroe, Michigan
; Leadership Team Sisters of the Most Precious Blood, O’Fallon, MO; 
Loretto Community; 
Loretto Earth Network
; Maryknoll Affiliates
; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
; Medical Mission Sisters Alliance for Justice; 
Medical Mission Sisters, Sector North India
; Mercy International Association
; National Catholic Rural Life Conference
; NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
; Pax Christi USA; 
PLANT (Partners for the Land and Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples); 
Presentation Peace and Justice Center
; Provincial Council of School Sisters of Notre Dame—Milwaukee Province
; Quaker Earthcare Witness; 
Racine Dominican Sisters
; ROAR (Religious Orders Along the River)
; ROW (Religious on Water); 
School Sisters of Notre Dame Shalom North America Coordinating Committee
; School Sisters of St. Francis, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – International; U.S. Province Leadership Teams
; Servants of Mary (Servite Sisters), Ladysmith, WI
; Sisters of Charity Federation
; Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Leadership Council; 
Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth; 
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Central Leadership
; Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul
; Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Leadership Team
; Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; 
Sisters of the Humility of Mary; 
Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Justice Office; 
Sisters of Mercy Northeast Community Justice Office
; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
; Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross – USA Province
; Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Justice and Peace Network
; Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Ohio Province Leadership Team
; Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, US National Team
; Sisters of the Presentation, San Francisco; 
Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN Leadership Team
; Sisters of Providence, Holyoke, MA Leadership Team; 
Sisters of St Joseph of Chambery/West Hartford, Justice and Peace Committee; 
Sisters of St. Francis leadership team, Tiffin, Ohio; 
Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa Leadership Team; 
Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa Leadership; 
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia Leadership; 
Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester, MN; 
Sisters of St. Francis, Savannah, MO
; Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
; Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia
; Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, NY
; Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, Leadership Team; 
Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis Leadership; 
Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres District USA
; Sisters of the Divine Compassion
; Sisters of the Divine Savior, North American Province Leadership Team
; Sisters of the Holy Cross- Congregation Justice Committee; 
Sisters of the Holy Family, Fremont, California
; Sisters of the Presentation – Dubuque Leadership Team
; Spirituality and Ecological Hope
; St. Joseph of Cluny, Province of USA and Canada
; United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
; Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland
; Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union, Central Province

Individual Endorsers:
Anita Fearday; Anne Hablas; Joe Holland, Ph.D.; David Kane; Diane Guerin, RSM, Ph.D.; Frances O’Neill; Jeanne Clennon, CSC; Kathy McNeely; Marie Dennis; Marilyn Zugish; Maureen Walker; Fr. Paul Vaz, S.J., director, Loyolo Institute of Spirituality,Ecology & Leadership (LISEL); Peter C. Hinde, O.Carm; Sara Schley; Sister Emily Demuth,C.S.C.; Sister Janet Gardner, OSF; Sister Mary Walz – Daughters of Charity; Sister Sandra Lyons, OSF; Sr. Anne Frawley, PBVM; Sr. Janet Gottschalk, PhD; Sr. Marge Wissman; Sr. Rose Therese Nolta, SSpS; Bro. Brian McLauchlin, SVD
See also Oct 2011 statements by African churches in We Have Faith - Act Now for Climate Justice, the Vatican's condemnation of economic inequality and the unreformed world financial system, and Stakeholder Forum's Principles for the Green Economy reminding the UN of its previous commitments made at various conferences. The 15 principles are: equitable distribution of wealth; economic equity and fairness; intergenerational equity; precautionary approach; the right to development; internalization of externalities; international cooperation; international liability; information, participation and accountability; sustainable consumption and production (SCP); strategic, coordinated and integrated planning to deliver sustainable development, the green economy and poverty alleviation; a just transition; redefining well-being; gender equality; and safeguarding biodiversity and preventing pollution of any part of the environment.

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