Representatives from 15 faith traditions gathered at the Sacred Land Celebration in Assisi, Italy from 31 October to 2 November 2011 for the launch of the Green Pilgrimage Network, organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The delegates were seeking to implement initiatives such as a car ban on pilgrimage routes in Nigeria, solar panels for a cathedral roof in the United Kingdom, provisions of fresh water for pilgrims in India, and the planting of thousands of trees around sacred sites in Armenia, according to ARC.
"Cities from China to Norway and faiths from all around the world today commit to making one of the most powerful religious experiences – pilgrimage – a living witness to a commitment to protect our living planet," said ARC Secretary General, Martin Palmer.
"The idea does not belong to these founder members or even to ARC or WWF. This is an invitation to all holy places to put into practice what they preach – namely, that when we walk upon this earth, we walk upon sacred land," he said.
Other plans announced by Green Pilgrimage Network leaders included measures to protect nature, teach children about conservation, protect sacred forests, reduce waste and encourage recycling, and organise nature tours for pilgrims.
'The Green Guide for Hajj' was launched to coincide with the event in Assisi, according to a news release from Global One 2015.
"As well as practical tips for pilgrims, the 'Green Guide' invites Muslims to use their Hajj experience as an opportunity to reflect on their own lives and move away from material culture and the waste it leaves behind," notes ARC.
The Green Pilgrimage Network released a 'fact file' outlining various efforts pilgrims and pilgrim cities can make, such as choosing sustainable tourist agencies and travel arrangements, eating and drinking ethically, minimizing waste, and supporting work being done locally to help "green" the sacred destination.
The Sacred Land Celebration opened on 31 October with a procession of religious delegates, led by Princess Michael of Kent. She represented ARC founder the Duke of Edinburgh, who was unable to attend because of illness.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]