Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization
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Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization


Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization (ICEC) is a consortium of religious and secular organizations offering an ethical framework for the RIO+20 Compilation Document expressing renewed reverence for the Earth and each other.

We live at a critical moment, with devastating economic inequities and environmental changes that threaten our collective humanity and future. Unless our values and actions are in line with the common good and mutual responsibility for future generations we cannot thrive. We recommend an ethical framework to guide our actions: to encourage actions that focus on the common good for all, on clean air and water and food for all. Deep listening can help us develop empathy and compassion, to connect with our universal humanity, to hear the Earth and all of nature, reminding us of the joy of being alive and awake with vitality in line with the creative force. Life is about being more, not having more. May this understanding give us strength for our collective work. We offer moral guidance from many sources here in brief form following the Rio+20 guidelines for contributions; our website offers an appendix with full citations.


Ethics offers a lens through which to evaluate the actions of international bodies, governments, corporations and individuals. Sustainability must be about the sacredness of all life, of timeless principles of gratitude, humility, and compassion, of the truth of human interconnectedness, and commitment to justice and equality. We will have to deepen conversations and negotiations to honor this and bring fruit from it. This is the work of an earth ethic.

It is in the enlightened self interest of all - in economic, social, and spiritual terms - to develop our commitment to ethical relations with Earth. Our consortium of religious and secular leaders affirms that the environment is sacred and that humans are part of the earth’s living ecosystem. We humans call each other to our universal responsibility and moral obligation to stand in solidarity, justice and equity, and offer acts of service. Collectively we insist on eradicating poverty, ensuring universal education and gender equality, and restoring our relationship to the earth.

Our Expectation of the General Content of the RIO+20 Document

a. - we need an outcome document that can inspire and galvanize action, acknowledging:

∑ the youth of the world are an immense resource, voicing ethical guidelines and calling us to intergenerational equity.

∑ the importance of the spiritual dimension of sustainability-that after basic needs are met, life is about being more, not having more, as put forth in The Earth Charter Preamble.

∑ the need for fundamental changes in values, institutions, and ways of living. Earth Charter Principle 7.f. urges us to Adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and Material sufficiency in a finite world."

b. Principles to be followed - we affirm the following principled approaches:

∑ Justice - Reduce disparities between rich and poor, and achieve social and economic justice, within a sustainable use and fair share of the world’s resources while leaving sufficient essential space for wildlife and wilderness.

∑ The Right to Development - Human development in harmony with the environment is fundamental to the achievement of sustainable development, so that individuals and societies are empowered to achieve positive social and environmental outcomes including access to healthcare, education and sustainable livelihoods.

∑ Information, participation and accountability - All citizens have a right of access to information concerning the environment, as well as the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. To ensure that environmental issues are handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, institutions at all levels (national and international) must be democratic and accountable, and make use of tools that enable civil society to hold them to account. In this regard, the access to justice by citizens for redress and remedy in environmental matters is a cornerstone of enhancing accountability.

∑ Just Transition - There will be costs in making the transition to a low carbon, green economy in the pursuit of sustainable development. Some States and actors are better able to bear those costs than others and are more resilient to transitional changes. In the process of change, the most vulnerable must be supported and protected – developing countries must have access to appropriate financial and technical assistance, citizens and communities must also have access to new skills and jobs.

c. Examples of Sustainable Development:

∑ We know that immense changes can be made, as the Green Belt Movement proves, with actions based in a spirit of service, love, gratitude, and respect for the earth’s resources, towards development that honors the earth and effectively intervenes in poverty.

∑ Indigenous peoples around the world continue to call for the right relationship to Mother Earth as a living being, with inherent rights.

∑ The Earth Charter calls us all to take on the mantle of global citizens, in full responsibility and solidarity, to end poverty and inequality. Its example of participatory democracy through a worldwide conversation sets a new standard for inclusion that can be enhanced through communications technology.

d. Cooperation:

∑ Religious leaders can insist on being part of the solutions. In Africa, religious leaders are already offering a joint statement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and committing to action on all levels, taking on responsibility while they demand it from decision makers. They offer renewed moral vision and call for economic and political systems based on ecological principles.

Specific Elements:

Stated Objectives of the Conference:

a. To secure political commitment for sustainable development:

We recommend the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goal focused on Sustainable Production and Consumption as articulated in the Bonn Declaration (442- 463), in particular calling "on nations and populations engaged in wasteful over consumption to reduce their impacts and help increase the consumption of vital goods and services for impoverished nations and peoples, so they also can enjoy reasonably high standards of living that provide equitable access to health care, decent work opportunities and education."

b. To establish a green economy:

∑ Many, including the Mary Robinson Foundation’s Climate Justice initiative, are standing for equitable stewardship, human rights, the rights of the most vulnerable, gender equality and education as the means to a true “green economy."

∑ Climate Ethics calls us to reduce carbon pollution as a moral obligation, to protect against suffering and degradation, to preserve justice and equity and insist now on stopping the worst violations of human rights caused by environmental degradation.

∑ The Earth Charter principle 7.d. insists we "Internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services into the selling price."

∑ The Bonn Declaration recognizes “that the market and institutional failures take the form of prices that do not reflect their true environmental and social costs, underinvestment in natural, human, built and social capital, harmful and perverse subsidies, restricted access to information about production technologies and their impacts, lack of democratic economic governance, increasing unemployment and inadequate indicators of progress. (212-215)

∑ The Bonn Declaration calls "for replacement of the current inefficient, unsustainable and inequitable economic, monetary, financial and commercial models with policies that advance rather than detract from sustainable development goals and that build rather than deplete the stocks of natural, human, built and social capital on which human well-being ultimately depends. We propose that where the current economy aids inequity, destruction and greed, it should be replaced by an economy that cares for the human-earth community.(166-170)

∑ We recommend the creation of an economic bottom line based on strong sustainability and adoption of alternative economic indicators to GDP as genuine indicators of progress which include social and environmental costs. This is a moral imperative, to measure in an integrated and holistic way such that the reality of the interconnections of environmental, justice, and development issues are seen together, with externalities included.

c. To develop an institutional framework for sustainable development:

Priorities for strengthening and integrating pillars at multiple levels.

∑ Establishment of Ombudspersons for Future Generations at global, national and local levels as called for in the Bonn Declaration calls “for the, who will advocate for sustainable development as envisaged and defined by the Brundtland Commission: to enhance the well-being and prospects of present and future generations to meet their needs, and to serve as an auditor at the heart of governments and deal with citizens complaints. (283-286)

∑ Responsibility to future generations by changing the discount rate, adopting the precautionary principle and establishing Ombudspersons for Future Generations at global, national and local levels.

∑ Strengthening of UNEP so that it may serve as a stronger international force for the respect and care for the environment and protection of our common good and common future. The market economy does not adequately protect common goods such as fresh water, health soil and clean air, so we must institutionalize the preservation of these common goods and protection of Earth's vitality, diversity, beauty and sacredness.

In conclusion, we strongly recommend that an ethical framework be integrated into the content of the Compilation Document. There are other organizations calling for ethical standards; we support their recommendations.

Thank you for considering our recommendations.

For more information on ICEC, our leadership, membership, and initiatives, please visit
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