The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD) unites faith communities, teachers and leaders to promote co-existence, peace, and sustainability through advocacy, education and action-oriented projects.
Working with numerous foundations, private donors, and clients, ICSD has successfully implemented a range of projects from hosting interfaith environmental conferences to facilitating eco tourism in the Holy Land to conducting faith and ecology workshops for students of religion.
Sewing Seeds, Building Trust, Seeking Peace
June 2014 marked the third month of a new track in our Women’s Faith and Ecology project. This initiative brings together women of Jerusalem to find commonality through shared respect and responsibility for a healthy environment. In the past, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD) oriented the Women’s Project towards intensive seminars with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian women to learn about women’s empowerment and environmental ethics through their respective religions. Following the success of these seminars, ICSD decided to implement monthly gatherings to convert education into action. As of March 2014, women from East and West Jerusalem (areas that are divided by ethnicity and religion) have been gathering to identify their common skills and environmental challenges and explore opportunities to make new relationships and environmental change.
While the previous two meetings focused on gardening and community agriculture, our June gathering featured an embroidery project led by Aida from Abu Tor in East Jerusalem that highlighted a traditional Palestinian style. The women’s handwork knitted itself into a discussion about recycled artwork, waste in Jerusalem, and how to convert such art projects into ecological tools like reusable bags. Other ideas generated for future meetings included outdoor hikes in the Jerusalem area, learning how to compost, and visiting local environmental businesses. While each meeting serves to expose these women to sustainable initiatives in Jerusalem, we are finding that laying foundations of relationship building, trust, skills sharing, and a welcoming space is just as invaluable as the ecology aspect of the program. While all are eager to dive into broader green projects, these relationships are new and delicate, especially in light of the violent cloud hanging over Jerusalem in recent days.
Channels of Action in 2014
1. The United Planet Faith & Science Initiative uses video teleconferencing and live meetings to engage the world's principal religion and science leaders in a united message for environmental protection. Video content from these meetings will be disseminated via social media and to news outlets to promote public awareness, political will, policy, and action.
2. The Women’s Interfaith Ecology Project brings together young Christian, Muslim, and Jewish women together for meetings and joint actions aimed at promoting environmental sustainability, strengthening ties among communities, and overcoming inter-religious strife.
3. Interfaith-Environmental Conferences co-organized by provide a forum for religious leaders and scientists to speak out on the intersection of faith and environmental issues. ICSD has organized, in conjunction with our partners, four interfaith environmental conferences. Past conferences have received broad media coverage in over 60 international media outlets.
4. Eco Tourism in the Holy Land: Through its revenue-generating educational tourism branches, Eco Israel Tours and Jewish Eco Seminars, ICSD engages a range of groups on the connection between ecology, Israel, and when desired, faith teachings. An ecological tour of Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market is one of twelve programs offered.
5. Faith and Ecology Workshops for Students of Religion bringing together Muslim, Christian and Jewish students for a series of interactive workshops, in collaboration with Friends of the Earth Middle East and Rabbis for Human Rights. The program cultivates young leaders to advance the common cause of environmental sustainability and promote coexistence and religious tolerance.
ICSD is registered as a non-profit organization in Israel (amuta), and is fiscally sponsored in the U.S. by Jumpstart, a registered 501(c)3.