Hearing the call of the Lord of History for serving and protecting His creation, our Mother Earth, through various recent documents and deliberations, JEA, with the help of a task force, has formulated the following eco policy for immediate implementation in our institutions.
I. Call for Ecological Action:
- More than half of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), adopted by the international community in 2015 through the UN focus on or address concerns of sustainability. It would mean that without particular attention to the implementation of the environmental dimension these goals cannot be attained.
- Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Laudato Si, calls for education towards ecological citizenship which will “bring about deep change” as “certain mindsets do influence our behavior.”
- Several General Congregations (GCs), have called for our commitment to the defense and protection of nature and environment. GCs 35 and 36 have called us, Jesuits, to promote a right relationship with creation, the same way and with the same urgency with which we handle our relationship with God and other human beings.
- By integrating Ecology with the Social Justice Secretariat, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, our former General, confirmed that Ecology is an integral component of Jesuit mission today.
- Fr Arturo Sosa, Superior General, in his address at the International Congress For Jesuit Education Delegates [JESEDU-Rio 2017] in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 20th, 2017 stated:
“…respect and care for our “common home” demands that our institutions train our students in the environmental dimension of reconciliation. All human beings share responsibility for our planet, for its future viability, beyond our national, local or generational interests. It is important that we join in the efforts of many to create a sustainable society and economy, so that human beings and the environment are both protected. Our institutions should reflect this attitude in their actions and their physical Structure”.
In response to Fr General, the Education Delegates from the six Jesuit regions of the world along with others in Jesuit educational apostolates articulated in their Action Statement:
“The delegates commit to promoting an environmental and social policy for each of our schools and to proposing ways regional networks can clearly integrate justice, faith, and care for the environment within the curricula of the schools… highlighting critical thinking, political awareness, and social engagement – all to be reflected in classroom and school practices” [JESEDU-Rio 2017, C #8, p.3].
II. Action Plans:
A. Assistancy/Zonal Level:
- Organize at least one training program a year for school administrators and selected lay collaborators, to be held preferably in Sacred Heart College, Shembagannur, Attappady Bio-reserve in Kerala, Tarumitra, Patna, GJEM (Gujarat Jesuits Environment Mission) or Goa.
- Create a resource center: design, develop resource materials (posters, videos, films, clippings, books, booklets etc.) for dissemination; they should be easily accessible.
- For a core team to plan, monitor and evaluate, act as a think tank for all the ecological initiatives.
B. Province Level:
- A core cum resource team to be appointed to plan, monitor, evaluate and do periodic green audit (water, energy, waste, land, air, food etc.). This team will visit all the institutions and assist the implementers with practical helps and guidelines. This team also can conduct the annual orientation to the Jesuits, collaborators, students, etc., and evolve action plans collectively.
- The Provincial writes to all superiors/ work directors regarding the implementation of this program.
- Provinces or Zones move to setting up bio reserves or ecosystems for eco-education.
C. Institutional level:
- The Jesuit community to be a model, eco-friendly community; lifestyle of the individuals and community to be in harmony with nature.
- Actively employ alternative energy sources like solar energy.
- Model in conservation measures, such as rain water harvesting, waste water recycling, judicious use of electricity, etc.
- Waste reduction, appropriate disposal and recycling.
- Farms/ gardens to be fully organic.
- A core team to plan, execute, monitor and evaluate in a time-bound manner. Evolve an accountability structure locally.
- Ecology action plan to be displayed in prominent places in the campus.
- Expose the students to some of the positive, best alternative practices like organic farming, compost making, bio-gas production, waste recycling, sewage treatment plants etc.
- Each institution to ensure conservation and efficient management of energy especially water and electricity: maximum utilization of solar energy for heating, cooling and lighting, rain water harvesting, waste segregation and disposal, compost pits etc.
- Promote clean, green, plastic-free, and litter- free campus.
- Greening of the campus: creating herbal gardens, planting local varieties of plant species. Involve students in the nurturing of the saplings for the first few years.
- All students, irrespective of their religious affiliations, to be exposed to eco-spirituality and thus made to feel and personalize their interconnectedness and interdependence with nature and with one another. Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm with its spiraling experience-reflection-action cycles is best suited to this as pedagogy.
- Resource materials available for eco-spirituality and eco-education in Jesuit circles can be accessed and teachers trained to utilise these materials creatively and effectively.
- At least one day a week/ month, no-vehicle-day could be observed, all to use public or shared transport or bicycles.
- Mark one week in July (or another rainy month) as eco solidarity week or nature harmony week: competitions, exhibitions, plantations, field visits, debates, special assemblies, parents’ meetings, cultural programs, mass cleaning programs, prayer services etc. be conducted during this week.
- Monthly thematic focus: themes like plastics, afforestation, rain water harvesting, noise, water conservation, energy conservation, ozone protection, climate change, environmental audit, agriculture etc.
- Organize plantation drives within and outside the campus; clean-up of public places in the vicinity of the institution; rallies and campaigns to create public awareness on eco issues.
- School annual day celebration to focus completely or partially on this theme.
- Awareness to the parents on eco issues thorough PTA meetings.
- Identify a local problem, which can be taken up for involvement and collective action.
- Identify, actively network and collaborate with other religious or secular groups, organizations and NGOs at the local level and collectively take up programs for the protection of the local environment. (Identify and join hands with at least one such group).
Members of the Eco policy Drafting Team
- Dr. John Kennedy, S.J. (MDU)
- Dr. Lancy D’Cruz, S.J. (GUJ)
- Lumnesh Swaroop Kumar S.J. (KAR)
- Dr. P. J. James (HAZ) (Coordinator)
- Robert Athickal S.J. (PAT)
- Simon Fernandes (GOA)
- Stephen L. Pragasam, S.J. (MDU)
Sunny Jacob SJ
22 July 2018