Culture shapes the way we see the world. It therefore has the capacity to bring about the change of attitudes needed to ensure peace and sustainable development which, we know, form the only possible way forward for life on planet Earth. Today, that goal is still a long way off. A global crisis faces humanity at the dawn of the 21st century, marked by increasing poverty in our asymmetrical world, environmental degradation and short-sightedness in policy-making. Culture is a crucial key to solving this crisis.
Source: Preface, World Culture Report, UNESCO Publishing, Paris, 1999.
Our cultural values, which often include particular religious beliefs, shape our way of living and acting in the world.
Module 11 on Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainability explores the importance of indigenous values and spirituality in providing guidance for sustainable living. Such principles and values encourage a spirit of harmony between people, their natural environments and their spiritual identities.
The principles for living sustainably that flow from these and other cultural and religious beliefs vary between groups and countries. They have also changed over time as circumstances demand. Despite this diversity, many principles for living sustainably are shared, not only among indigenous peoples, but also between different religious traditions.
This module explores the role of culture and religion in providing guidance on ways of living sustainably. It also provides activities which analyse the place of these themes in the school curriculum.
• To develop an understanding of the relationship between culture, religion and sustainable living;
• To explore the principles for sustainable living encouraged in a chosen religion and in a case study from Nepal;
• To analyse the relevance and applicability of principles of sustainable living in the Nepal case study; and
• To encourage reflection on the contribution of religious education in Education for Sustainable Development.
1. Defining religion and culture
2. Values and principles
3. A case study: Annapurna, Nepal
4. Culture and development
Bassett, L. (ed) (2000) Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action, UNEP.
Gardner, G. (2002) Invoking the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in the Quest for a Sustainable World, Worldwatch Paper No.164, Worldwatch Institute.
Robinson, M. and Picard, D. (2006) Tourism, Culture and Sustainable Development, Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue, UNESCO.
Schech, S. and Haggis, J. (2000) Culture and development: a critical introduction, Wiley-Blackwell.
Throsby, D. (2008) Culture in Sustainable Development: Insights for the future implementation of Article 13 (Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diveristy of Cultural Expressions), UNESCO.
UNESCO (2000) World Culture Report, UNESCO Publishing, Paris.
UNESCO (2009) UNESCO World Report 2: Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue, UNESCO Publishing.
World Commission on Culture and Development (1995) Our Creative Diversity, UNESCO Publishing, Paris.
World Religions and Ecology Series by Harvard University Press. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, series editors.
• Buddhism – Tucker, M.E. and Williams, D.R. (eds) (1997)
• Christianity – Hessel, D. and Ruether, R.R. (eds) (2000)
• Confucianism – Tucker, M.E. and Berthrong, J. (eds) (1998)
• Daoism – Girardot, N.J., Xiaogan, L. and Miller, J. (eds) (2001)
• Hinduism – Chapple, C.K. and Tucker, M.E. (eds) (2000)
• Indigenous Traditions – Grim, J. (ed) (2001)
• Islam – Foltz, R., Denny, F. and Baharuddin, A. (eds) (2003)
• Jainism – Chapple, C.K. (ed) (2002)
• Judaism – Tirosh-Samuelson, H. (ed) (2002)