The Green Pilgrimage is an international interfaith organization of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC). Through religious groups, NGOs and local government bodies, ARC is attempting to draw up strategies for creating ecologically sustainable towns, cities and natural areas across the globe. The organization says that many religions promote a “green” lifestyle. Therefore, they are working to spread environmental awareness among the pilgrims and others who visit their various pilgrimage sites.
A large portion of the funds collected for the Green Pilgrimage goes to support the upkeep of cultural heritage. Since the inception of the organization in 1998, it has been working to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the indigenous Christian communities in Pakistan and the Himalayan regions. They also work to protect the natural resources of these areas and work to restore and rehabilitate the economic prosperity that once was endowed upon them. This includes the expansion of markets for local products, promoting organic farming and use of alternative energy and education on environmental issues and responsible tourism.
Many environmental organizations and businesses have lent their support to the effort to create sustainable pilgrimage sites. In addition, many individuals have also joined in the effort to make the green pilgrimage more sustainable. Those who visit these sites come to leave their carbon footprint smaller by reducing their use of electricity, fossil fuels and other harmful materials to purchase items and produce the items they are at home or in their communities.
One of the major goals of the Green Pilgrimage is the creation of a Sustainable Travel advisory council, which will provide oversight and technical assistance to the various agencies and institutions involved in the creation of sustainable travel. These include the World Heritage Foundation, UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Program, IFAO, sustainable tourism organizations and others. The aim is to create a system that will ensure that the green pilgrimage’s activities are sustainable both in terms of individual consumption and in terms of investment in infrastructure that create green projects and products. The idea is to create new forms of tourism that will allow the pilgrims to generate income while reducing their ecological impact upon the environment.
The sustainable development policies of a pilgrimage will involve the reduction of overall waste generation, the re-use of waste and the provision of eco-friendly means of transport. It is also hoped that the policies will encourage investment in green technologies and energy efficiency rather than speculative energy projects such as geothermal power, solar energy or wind power. By creating a more equitable distribution of tourism income, it is hoped that the income generated will be used to fund the development programs of religious and cultural institutions and other important institutions throughout the region.
For the last few years, groups from different religions, representing different nations have been working together to come up with sustainable projects that will benefit the local people and promote the greening of the globe. In this regard, they have come up with five high-quality and green routes that they believe can be used by religious pilgrims worldwide. These routes cover locations in Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. The projects include low carbon hotels, green buildings, street cafés, rides for ecologists, trekking and other outdoor activities that have a positive environmental impact.