Research on Religion and Sustainable Development


Commission member Luis Guiterrez writes, The influence of religion is seldom considered in research and education for sustainable development.  Perhaps this is not surprising, as religious issues tend to be controversial.  But ignoring the influence of religion in sustainable development is like assuming that religion has no influence, which is probably the worst assumption to make.  This is especially true when sustainable development is considered from a  "human-centric" perspective, i.e., when human development is viewed as the core of sustainable development. TES member Luis Gutierrez explains, " A series of opinion surveys about critical issues pertaining to education for sustainable development (ESD) has recently (April to August 2009) been completed.  This is an independent initiative of PelicanWeb , and there is no presumption that the online surveys used meet the requirements of scientific sampling.  However, a total of 1002 responses have been collected for five successive monthly versions of the survey, and there is a consensus that (1) gender inequities are a significant obstacle to sustainable development, and (2) the root cause of gender inequities is a mix of inseparable cultural and religious factors. "

The analysis of survey responses, in conjunction with analysis of other surveys, maps on the geographic distribution of world religions and other factors such as poverty, human development, and gender equity; and review of the scientific literature, the arts, and real life examples collected from news sources, leads to an inference that the exclusion of women from roles of religious authority is an obstacle to the integral human development of both men and women.   An overview of all the evidence and analysis has been posted to the web as page 1 of the PelicanWeb's Journal of Sustainable Development , Volume 5, Number 9, September 2009. 

The following material is included:

  • Section 1, a brief progress report on the ESD surveys.
  • Section 2, clarification of sustainable development terminology.
  • Section 3, an essay on integral human development.
  • Section 4, an overview of sustainable development indicators
  • Section 5, an essay on religious traditions and human development.
  • Section 6, a review of survey-based evidence.
  • Section 7, a review of recent scholarly research.
  • Section 8, a review of some real life examples.
  • Section 9, suggestions for prayer, study, and action.

A list of links to the archive of survey forms, databases, and analysis reports is also available.  Pages 2, 3, and 4 are invited articles of related issues.  The article in page 3 is especially relevant to the issue of women in roles of religious authority.  Feedback about this work is gratefully received.  Luis T. Gutierrez, PhD Editor, PelicanWeb Journal of Sustainable Development