Religious communities have a common thread of compassion and care for the natural world that is at the heart of pledges made by 20 significant Christian and Muslim faith traditions from throughout sub-Saharan Africa, representing many millions of followers. They each pledged to create a long term plans to protect and nurture creation.

At a two-day workshop organized by the Alliance for Religions and Conservation (ARC) in Nairobi, Kenya in 2011, representatives of the 20 faith groups said they had a “God-given duty” to protect creation, and committed their resources, energy and faith to developing new action plans on the environment. As well as planting millions of trees (8.5 million on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, 10 million in Rwanda, for example), the faiths will be managing their land sustainably, protecting water sources, reducing energy use and working to enhance biodiversity. They will also be embarking upon a major effort to train young people in environmental care and protection through their schools and youth groups.

With 90 per cent of Africa’s population declaring themselves to be either Christian or Muslim, ARC Director Martin Palmer said this was an historic moment: “The way to the heart of Africa is through faith and faith will be the engine that changes the way Africa’s environment is managed by its own people. This is a truly historic moment where faith, conservation and civil society meet and begin to change the world for the better.”

The Alliance of Religions and Conservation is a UK-based charity that works with all the major religions of the world to help them develop environmental plans based on their own beliefs, practices and teachings. With support from USAID’s Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support (BATS) program, ABCG is working with ARC, WWF-US and the Jane Goodall Institute to support conservation work in partnership with faith groups in Africa.