Sustainability in Crisis is a three-day cross-disciplinary consultation being held in Cambridge in September 2011, aimed at thought-leaders, academics, campaigners and policy-makers, representing a variety of religious perspectives or none. It will serve as a forum for informed and honest conversation about the challenges we all face and the distinctive contribution religions might make to addressing them.
Paul Chambers, Civil Servant, DECC
Juliet Davenport, CEO, Good Energy
Paul Ekins, UCL Energy Institute
Fazlun Khalid, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environment Sciences
Satish Kumar, Resurgence; Schumacher College;
Bill McKibben, 10/10/10 and 350.org
Ann Pettifor, Advocacy International Ltd and nef
Elaine Storkey, Tearfund
Sustainability in Crisis was organised by the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, and the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, and builds on a 2008 Faraday Institute conference, Creation in Crisis, which explored Christian perspectives on the environmental crisis. This consultation widens the discussion to include a range of other religious voices and those operating from secular perspectives.
Debate will focus on the momentous socio-economic and cultural challenges of aiming for sustainability in consumption, production and governance. It has become increasingly clear, particularly following the disappointment of the Copenhagen Climate Change summit in 2009, that technical solutions to such problems are not sufficient. The event will explore what 'sustainability' actually is, whether it requires, or is consistent with, continuing economic growth or a transition to a low- or no-growth economy, and what changes people and institutions must be prepared to make to move towards sustainable societies.
Here religious communities have a particular role to play. The crisis of sustainability poses deep questions about the nature of a truly fulfilling human life, and the future societies in which we wish to live. For a substantial proportion of humanity, and for increasing numbers in the UK, such questions have a religious dimension. While religions have been, and still are, complicit in some environmentally-damaging behaviour, they can at their best inspire people towards socially transformative activity and generate communities which can educate and mobilise members on major questions such as sustainability.
Sustainability is thus an issue spanning numerous academic disciplines, practical fields and faith perspectives. The consultation will consider challenges and possibilities for action in four main areas:
Video and recordings of all the main sessions are available on the Faraday Institute website, either for download or purchase on DVD or CD
The Sustainability in Crisis conference marks the formal close of the Hope for Creation project (which runs until mid-2012), but articles, links and news are being posted on our blog. A book of the conference proceedings is in preparation. We are also looking into either a continuation of the project or to start a new related one next year.
Various initiatives are under consideration following the conference, including a couple of smaller regional conferences on similar themes, aimed a bit more at consolidating collaboration in practical issues. We will announce these on our blog when we know more.
Please contact for further information on any of these.