How can the gospel help us balance society, environment and economic outcomes

Since 2013, I have worked in nature conservation and later as an advisor for environmentally responsible business practices in Malaysia.

This has led me into a deep appreciation of the unique role of the gospel in helping deal with increasingly urgent global concerns around climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution.

In my work with an international conservation NGO, I found that people tend not to see environmental protection as foundational to economic and social wellbeing. For example, the NGO lobbied for the protection of a nationally-important wetland. It is the spawning grounds for groupers, a fish important for the livelihoods of fishermen all over the country. Unfortunately, this protection wasn’t extended and fish stocks have dwindled by 95%, causing prices of fish to sky-rocket.

When I moved to an advisory role for responsible business practices, I encountered similar thinking. Businesses tend to see a dilemma: either they can continue to generate profit, or they can choose to protect the environment. Naturally they tend toward generating profit.

However, I’m encouraged that forward-thinking companies are beginning to demonstrate new possibilities, most notably in the sector where I now work, making commitments on ‘no deforestation’. As a result millions of hectares of forests have been protected, while labour rights are scrutinised, and all without ignoring commercial viability.

It’s plain to see, we have to avoid such unhelpful trade-offs and strive for the co-flourishing of all the important goals for society, the environment and the economy. This is where the gospel of God’s redemption of all creation creates the solid ground for more rigorous thinking: ‘In what ways will we balance all three priorities for society, the environment and the economy?’ ‘How will we ensure we avoid damaging trade-offs?‘ I can’t help but wonder, what if more Christians in business asked the same questions as part of their walk of faith?

In 2008 Ken was helped to realise his calling lay in creation care. Ken now works in sustainability and responsible business practices and helps his wife connect people to nature through her food gardening business.

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