The role of religion in linking conservation and development

Challenges and opportunities


  • Shonil A Bhagwat School of Geography and the Environment University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
  • Alison A Ormsby Eckerd College
  • Claudia Rutte University of Berne



Environmental conservation, ethical values, faith groups, sustainable development, non-governmental organisations, religion


The world’s religions have made a contribution to environmental conservation and sustainable development through faith-based non-governmental organizations. Partnerships between secular conservation and development organizations and faith-based groups, however, are not always easy. Such partnerships face various challenges, including differences in worldviews, conict between identities, and the attitudes and behavior of religious groups that may not be favorable to conservation and development. Despite a possible overlap of values, these incompatibilities can often cause tensions between secular organizations and religious groups. A number of examples, however, suggest that faith-based groups are starting to address these incompatibilities. We suggest that partnerships with faith groups might be valuable because these groups can enhance public support for conservation and development. While secular organizations need to work with faith groups on the basis of shared ethical or moral values, identifying effective ways to strengthen the linkages between secular organizations and faith groups is also necessary.


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How to Cite

Bhagwat, S. A., Ormsby, A. A., & Rutte, C. (2011). The role of religion in linking conservation and development: Challenges and opportunities. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 5(1), 39-60.