Environment

Excerpts from the Baha'i International Community's Seven Year Plan of Action on Climate Change

The Bahá'í writings state: "We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions."

The Bahá'í International Community has worked for more than two decades to contribute to discourses on issues related to the environment. This plan describes the approach the Bahá'í community proposes to educate our community about climate change, to raise consciousness about environmental issues, and to build the capacity of our members to contribute to the resolution of this global challenge.

The plan reflects certain general principles that are important for the Bahá'í community. Bahá'ís believe that progress in the development field depends on and is driven by stirrings at the grass roots of society rather than from an imposition of externally developed plans and programmes. This plan, then, seeks to increase local communities' and individuals' awareness of the needs and possibilities and of their capacity to respond. ...

Bahá'ís all over the world are engaged in a coherent framework of action, which includes certain core activities. These activities promote the systematic study of the Bahá'í writings in small groups in order to build capacity for service. Small groups unite with each other in prayer and devotion shaping a pattern of life distinguished for its devotional character. They provide for the needs of the children of the world and offer them lessons that develop their spiritual faculties and lay the foundations of a noble and upright character. They also assist junior youth to navigate through a crucial stage of their lives and to become empowered to direct their energies toward the advancement of civilization. ...

The most effective method to raise the consciousness of the worldwide Bahá'í community on the subject of climate change and to engage them in acts of service related to environmental sustainability is ... to develop a course to explore the relationship of humans to the environment as articulated in the Bahá'í sacred writings. This course would not simply be aimed at increasing knowledge on the subject but would build the capacity of participants to engage in acts of service related to environmental sustainability. Similarly, the programs for children and junior youth would include material on climate change and the contribution that the younger generation can make to address the climate crisis.

There are already examples of devotional gatherings in local communities that have chosen as their theme "care of the earth" or "the environment." Prayers, sacred writings and meditations during the devotional have elaborated this theme. Several children's classes offer acts of service to their communities. In some cases this action has been planting a community garden or cleaning up a stream or river.

Thousands of people worldwide have participated in these core activities. In 2006, the most recent year for which comprehensive statistics are available, an estimated 46,000 people participated in study circles worldwide, 112,000 attended devotional meetings, and some 93,000 were involved in children's classes.

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