** Developing policy **

"The whole creation belongs to God. As human beings we are part of the whole and have a responsibility to love and care for what God has entrusted to us as temporary tenants of the planet. We are called to conserve its complex and fragile ecology, whilst recognising the need for responsible and sustainable development and the pursuit of social justice."

Church of England National Institutions

What is an Environmental Policy?

An Environmental Policy is a written statement outlining your parish or mission community's vision and driving force behind the objectives, targets and actions you are taking or will take in the future.

The policy should be a top-level document that will need to change little. It should be supplemented with a set of plans of action in different policy areas. All actions should be associated with targets, be measurable and time-bound, and be challenging but realistic.

The policy should be endorsed and actively supported by the leadership team, which may include clergy, lay leadership, PCC and churchwardens.

The policy should enable the leadership team to communicate its aims to the congregation, local communities and other interested parties, such as suppliers, grant-making bodies, the DAC and planning officers.

Suggested aims

The overall aim should be along the lines of the excerpt from the policy of the Church of England. The environmental policy could also refer to the following principles.

The four principles on the environment adopted by the Lambeth Conference in 1998:
  • The covenant of God’s love embraces not only human beings but all of creation;
  • Creation is everywhere filled with God’s sacred presence;
  • Human beings are the priests of creation, seeing God’s presence in it, and offering creation’s worship;
  • The Sabbath principle of ‘enoughness’ is a challenge to us to rest from unnecessary consumption.
The ‘Five Marks of Mission’ agreed by the Anglican Consultative Council of the Anglican Communion:
  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers;
  • To respond to human need by loving service;
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society;
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.  (It is often remarked that care for the environment is the Fifth Mark of Mission, but less often that it entails aspects of all the others too.)
'Environmental' can refer to the ecological dimension (ecosystems), the social dimension (quality of life, climate and trade justice) and the economic dimension (management of resources and finances).

Issues addressed by an environmental policy should include carbon emissions (and hence energy use in buildings and transport). Each parish and mission community should also adopt the targets for emissions reduction laid down in the Church of England’s seven-year plan link.

Other issues could include (but are not limited to): air pollution, water resources and pollution, procurement and investment, waste management, the built environment, biodiversity, wildlife and endangered species. The policy could also attend to theology and worship, the communication of environmental issues, and the building of partnerships.

In May 2006, Devon Churches Green Action produced "World Without End …? Devon Church Policies for Sustainability" (pdf, 2,116k), which provides background and guidance for churches on the development of policy. It includes suggestions for policy statements in the areas of energy, buildings and land, waste, water, transport, money and trade. Some of the material is slightly out of date, but it remains a useful reference.

Examples of policies

Exeter Cathedral Environmental Policy (pdf, 43k)
Old Deanery Environmental Good Practice (pdf, 60k)
The Church and the environment: "Sharing God's Planet" and "Church and Earth 2009 - 2016".


Diocesan environmental policies listed on the Eco-congregation website.

Are there any churches in Devon who have already developed environmental policies?  Please let us know.

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