World Environment Day, June 5-Green economy: Does it include you?


World Environment Day is also a day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations. Everyone counts in this initiative and World Environment Day relies on us to make this happen!

Environmental protection from a Baha'i perspective
The essence of the Bahá'í approach to the environment is founded in the fundamental principle of the harmony of science and religion, which must be in balance. Science without religion tends to materialism, while religion without science can fall into superstition. Science can give us tools to help us live in the physical world, but only religion can tell us how to use those tools for good rather than for evil.

Nature and all the creation reflect the qualities and attributes of God, to be contemplated and admired in all their diversity. The beauty and verdure of the country are seen as the world of the soul. Mercy and compassion must be shown not only to human beings, but to every living creature.

The Bahá'í writings refer to the natural world as a unified system in which all beings are connected together, such as in the dependence of plants on carbon dioxide produced by animals and microbes, and of animals on the oxygen produced by plants. Co-operation and reciprocity are seen as essential properties of nature.

Our physical, social and spiritual environments are all interrelated. We are organic with the world, and cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us. Our inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it.

Bahá'ís see the world as evolving rapidly towards a global society as technology breaks down barriers between nations. The problems of the environment are symptoms of the larger imbalances in society, and the barriers to their solution are largely economic, social and political.

Changes in behaviour, sacrifices of individual interests in the common good, and major social adjustments will be required. Even where solutions have been agreed, as at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992, the will to apply them has been lacking, and this lack of will is fundamentally a spiritual problem. Changed values and a restoration of moral and ethical principles are needed.

The environmental challenge and solutions
Just as humanity, the environment and spirituality are all inter-connected, so too are the factors that have led to the environmental challenges:

None of these problems -- the debilitating inequities of development, the apocalyptic threats of atmospheric warming and ozone depletion, the oppression of women, the neglect of children and marginalised peoples, to name but a few -- can be realistically addressed without considering all the others. None can be fully addressed without a magnitude of cooperation and coordination at all levels that far surpasses anything in humanity's collective experience.

The unfettered exploitation of planetary natural resources is one symptom of a "sickness of the human spirit". Thus, any lasting solution to the environmental and developmental challenges will need to recognise the spiritual nature of each human, the interdependency of all humans, and their relationship with the environment. In other words, development will need to be more than simply for short-term economic advantage; it must also further and benefit the minds and spirits of all humanity.

The moral obligation to honour and protect the processes that make life possible
Because we have a moral obligation to protect human life and prevent suffering and injustice, and because Earth’s gifts have intrinsic value, we have a responsibility to protect the ecosystems and organisms that provide the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the materials we use to sustain life and prosperity, and the natural beauty that lifts our spirits.

Whether we believe that the Earth and its great abundance is a product of natural processes or, as millions of people nationwide believe, that the Earth is the gift of the Creator, or both, our obligations are fundamentally the same – we must be good stewards of what we have inherited.

Humanity is not in command of creation, but merely part of it. To disrupt the climate that is the cornerstone of all life on Earth and to squander the extraordinary abundance of life, richness, and beauty of the planet is morally wrong.

The promise of a better future
It is the actions of governments, non-governmental organisations, the forces of capital, society in general, and significant individuals that will determine how quickly humanity arrives at a universal consensus for sustainable development. The onus is on every party to consciously and deliberately give a thorough evaluation to the meaning of the goals toward which they are working

Contributed by the Bahá’í Faith - Seychelles