A Growing Interest in Nature
In 2002, a joint declaration by Pope John Paul II and the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew emphasized that humankind is entrusted to guard and protect all creation. Similar statements have recently been made by leaders in the Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish faiths, as well as by Muslim, Baha’i and indigenous leaders, all emphasizing the interdependence of humankind and the natural world. Several interfaith groups have made similar declarations.
A Resurgence of Stewardship
The current resurgence of the stewardship concept among the world’s major spiritual traditions is in direct contrast to the notion that humankind has a duty to subdue and exploit nature – the worldview now dominant. The stewardship concept recognizes the dependence of humankind on nature, and makes explicit our obligations to preserve and protect all creation. Any activities that have the potential to trigger an irrevocable collapse of the ecosystem services that support all life, are clear violations of this obligation. The increasing attention devoted by the world’s major spiritual traditions to environmental preservation is a hopeful sign. Values consistent with living within the finite scale provided by ecosystem support services, appears to be reemerging.