The biblical accounts of creation provide a strict value orientation for the responsible treatment of our earth. They describe human beings as part of creation and, at the same time, as God's counterpart, created in His image. This results in a holistic, socially comprehensive and far-reaching concept of sustainability that goes far beyond the idea of nature conservation. The task is to care for and preserve the order that God has created and which provides for the coexistence of creatures.
The fields of action resulting from this value orientation show many overlaps and congruencies with sustainability goals, such as the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ("UN SDGs") and the Paris Climate Protection Agreement. "ESG" is therefore by no means just a buzzword, but reflects precisely this value orientation and breaks it down into ecological (environment), social and societal (social) and management (governance) criteria (ESG criteria).
These dimensions of ESG represent decisive commonalities with the Church's mission, because human beings are by no means only responsible for the preservation of the earth in the sense of water, soil and wildlife. With various building blocks and implementation strategies, ESG strategies aim to prevent negative impacts on sustainable development and promote positive ones when fully implemented. They help to translate care for creation into concrete action and help to ensure accountability, so that actions become transparent and comprehensible and lessons can be learned from possible negative effects.
Sustainability, like the creation mandate, cannot be reduced to nature conservation alone, but encompasses the responsibility transferred to human beings in all dimensions of justice.
Sustainability reporting offers an opportunity to make the influence on society visible, to show the traces of church action on the basis of comprehensible and comparable criteria and thus to present the social added value.
Just as in the man-God relationship, the church as a community of believers is therefore accountable for the state of the world. It is a question of credibility.
Not only church-related foundations could make their "impact" clear with comprehensible, measurable and transparent reports. With impact-oriented reporting, the church would also give its members the opportunity to appreciate the dimensions of the church's work. Do good and report on it.
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