Because 84% of people in the world identify with a particular faith (religious, folk, traditional, aboriginal, spiritual), leaders and members of faith communities profess ultimate reasons for acting ethically, and members can be mobilized to act, conservation biologists may find them supportive of research projects, participate in them, and willing to advocate the establishment of policies aimed at planetary well-being. Facilitating conservation-faith collaboration is a primary purpose of the Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group of the SCB. In March 2016, the RCBWG initiated a project to identify successful practices that SCB members have used when interacting with faith leaders and communities. A survey of SCB members, symposiums and workshops at international and regional congresses, affirmations of specific practices by individual members based on their experiences in the field, and comments by faith leaders resulted in "Guidelines for Interacting with Faith-Based Leaders and Communities: A Proposal by and for Members of the Society for Conservation Biology" (February 2018). This document will be the focus of workshops at the European Congress for Conservation Biology and other sectional congresses in 2018. Participants in the ECCB workshop will (1) examine and comment on the proposed guidelines at planning, initiating, implementing, closing, and following-up stages of projects, (2) collaborate in preparing an outline to follow when preparing a case study on a conservation project using the guidelines, (3) consider making individual commitments to prepare a case study for presenting in a symposium to be proposed for the 2019 International Congress for Conservation Biology, and (4) suggest venues and opportunities for sharing the guidelines with others.
1. Best Practices Project, Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group, Guidelines for Interacting with Faith-Based Leaders and Communities: A Proposal by and for Members of the Society for Conservation Biology, February 2018.
2. J. Schaefer and S. Higgins, Best Practices Survey—Promising First Step Toward Developing Guidelines,” Best Practices Project, Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group, Society for Conservation Biology, December 2016, http://conbio.org/images/content_news_blog/RCB+BestPracticesSummary_12.pdf accessible from http://conbio.org.
3. J. Schaefer, “New Hope for the Oceans: Contributions of Religious-Based Action to Marine Conservation.” Frontiers in Marine Science 4.62 (2017): 1-5.