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A Rocha's Five Commitments, amplified version

Introduction

The "five Commitments" (Christian, Conservation, Community, Cross-cultural and Cooperation) are widely used to express what is distinctive about A Rocha.

This document includes the expanded definition found in the A Rocha Strategic Plan 2002-06, together with an amplifying statement for each definition to spell out some of the implications.

Some general comments

  • The word "commitment" has a strong and a weak sense. For someone to "be committed" can mean that they have made an unbreakable bond with someone or something, but it can also mean no more than they have some well-intentioned desire to be identified with a cause. The sense of "commitment" here is the strong one.
  • These commitments are held not just as ideas to be believed in, but as truths to be lived out. The Strategic Plan expresses it like this: "We are identified by five core commitments, and to a practical outworking of each."

1) CHRISTIAN

Underlying all we do is our biblical faith in the living God, who made the world, loves it and entrusts it to the care of human society.

Strategic Plan definition

Christian commitment implies that we understand all our activities as an integral part of our response to God. They range from conservation initiatives based on scientific research, to environmental education and advocacy at all levels of national and transnational society. Each is regarded as a normal element of Christian living. We intend our work to give practical expression to authentic Christian hope in a fragmented world.

Amplification

Our Christian faith is the foundation and motivation for all we seek to be and do. In caring for creation we are responding to the Biblical revelation of one living God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is present and active in his world as creator, sustainer and redeemer, and calls people to act as responsible stewards of the earth. Our relationship with God enables us to integrate concern for sustainable human and non-human communities in practical expressions of Christian faith, hope and love in a fragmented world.

2) CONSERVATION

We carry out research for the conservation and restoration of the natural world and run environmental education programmes for people of all ages.

Strategic Plan definition

Conservation is the focus of our activity within the vast range of environmental issues about which we are concerned. This requires us to work both with threatened eco-systems and the human communities who depend upon them for their well being and who hold the future of these fragile areas in their hands. So we undertake practical initiatives for the restoration and protection of particular habitats and vulnerable species. Conscientious scientific research underlies the proposals and programmes that we develop within each project.

Amplification

Within the vast range of environmental and ecological concerns that exist today, A Rocha's prime focus is nature conservation. This concern is expressed by the protection of important habitats and species and by the restoration of degraded habitats. We believe that for such projects to be successful, they must have a carefully researched scientific basis and be carefully implemented and monitored.

3) COMMUNITY

Through our commitment to God, each other and the wider creation, we aim to develop good relationships both within the A Rocha family and in our local communities.

Strategic Plan definition

Community life is at the heart of A Rocha's approach. We recognise the centrality of human relationships, renewed in Christ, in understanding the way forward for people and places. This is expressed through a long-term commitment to the transformation of local communities and their environments, rooted in an understanding of open Christian community built among staff and volunteers.

Amplification

A great deal of contemporary environmentalism sees human beings as most of the problem; we see them as part of the answer. Our reasoning is both theological and practical: theologically, we see human beings and communities as being important; practically, we believe that a conservation project is only likely to be successful when a local community comes to value it. As a result, we have a commitment to involvement with local people, whether in education or development projects. All A Rocha projects are focused on involvement in a community, often being based around a residential centre. Because we believe that community is so important, we aim to develop within our teams those principles of openness, honesty and caring that are essential to healthy communities.

4) CROSS-CULTURAL

We draw on the insights and skills of people from diverse cultures, both locally and around the world.

Strategic Plan definition

Cross-cultural engagement seeks to mobilise the unique experience of people from different contexts, and enables us to draw on the wealth of insights and skills available in both Christian and other communities worldwide. In itself a recognition of inter-dependence, we seek to bring people together around shared concerns.

Amplification

In a world of extraordinary environmental richness and varied human cultures, environmental problems are inevitably diverse. This diversity poses problems. Uniform solutions tend to be inadequate; what works in one place, may not work in another. It is also easy to overlook situations in one part of the world where solutions to problems have been developed that may be applicable elsewhere. A Rocha's rooting in the Christian church helps surmount these problems. Intellectually, being part of a body that extends across all cultures and languages gives us a prior commitment to cross-cultural relationships. Practically, our existing international links through churches give us immediate access to communities across the world that secular organisations do not have.

A Rocha is committed to mobilising the experience of people from different cultures and contexts and to drawing on the wealth of insights and skills available in communities across the world, whether Christian or not.

5) COOPERATION

We work in partnership with a wide variety of organisations and individuals who share our concerns for a sustainable world.

Strategic Plan definition

Cooperation with others is an expression of our shared humanity and interdependence. Active partnerships with those who are engaged in similar areas of work enables us to share resources, learn from one another, and achieve far more than we could in isolation. Cooperation with others ensures sustainability and accountability in all our work, and is integral to A Rocha's approach.

Amplification

We seek cooperation with others for several reasons. Theologically, we follow the one who said "For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45, NLT). Practically, active partnerships with those who are engaged in similar areas of work enable us to share resources, learn from one another, and achieve far more than we could in isolation. They also ensure accountability in all our work. In many cases, A Rocha's refusal to empire build has meant that we have been able to play a major role as mediators and intermediaries in the sometimes fractious world of environmental politics.

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