Project trials campaign to encourage "green" behaviour change by working with faith networks
This week marks the conclusion of a three-year project in Peterborough that has trialled the dissemination of pro-environmental messages within faith networks.
The project is being hailed as an important next step for Peterborough's aspiration to become the UK's Environment Capital, ensuring that a more diverse range of people are engaged with the city's programme.
Sustainability organisation Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) received funding from DFID (Department for International Development) to help people from five different faith groups to learn about climate change and how to reduce their impact on the environment.
Since 2010 the five faith groups, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Buddhist, have been taking part in a range of interactive, hands-on workshops about the environment. They have also been attending green events to share eco-friendly tips with other members of their communities.
The overall results of the project are still being evaluated by PECT. In the meantime, "eco" artwork that has been created by project participants is now on display at Peterborough Museum. The art-work, which ranges from paintings and poetry to sculptures, is all made of materials that would otherwise have ended up in landfill
A report published last year by national sustainability organisation Forum for the Future suggested that religious leaders and groups could be critical intermediaries in the promotion of environmental messages.
Project Officer from PECT, Karen Lawrence has led the delivery of the project. She said: "Most faiths have religious teachings about preserving the environment and this project helped people to practically apply those teachings and make a difference.
"It's usually the poorest people of the world who are hit first and hardest by the effects of climate change, for example by extreme weather conditions like flooding and drought. The everyday actions of people living in richer parts of the world directly contribute towards climate change and impact on those living in the poorest parts of the world. Raising awareness of this fact has encouraged faith groups in Peterborough to change their behaviour to live in a greener way."
Students from, Iqra Academy, have been taking part in the project. Teachers at the school have seen students use their initiative to make the school more sustainable, for example by ensuring the school stocks Fairtrade goods. The environment is also now a key part of the Academy's curriculum.
Aishah Ali (17) from, Iqra Academy, Peterborough's independent Islamic secondary school for girls is one of the participants in the project. She said: "It's been great taking part, I've learnt so much and I've made sure I've passed the green message onto my family and friends. The project has given me so many ideas and the confidence to encourage other people to live in a more environmentally friendly way too. I'm excited to see my eco-art on display. I feel much more involved in the programme to make Peterborough the greenest city - a great place for us all to live."
Mrs Devinder Kaur is a member of the local Sikh place of worship, the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Sahib. She believes the project has broken down barriers and given a more diverse range of people the chance to contribute towards Peterborough's eco ambitions. "I've learnt a lot about the environment, how to live in a greener way, and how all this links directly to my faith. I'd heard a bit about Peterborough's Environment Capital work before, but never had the opportunity to get involved."
The Keeping the Faith, Saving the Planet, exhibition runs until 16 September in Peterborough Museum's community gallery.