EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Empowered World View - bringing faith and science together to reduce risks

Jason Garrett
Jason Garrett
  • World Vision UK, Policy & Programmes, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (

Geoscience and religion – potential partners for societal change
European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2020

Austria Center Vienna, Vienna
3-8 May 2020


In virtually all the communities where World Vision works, faith is an important part of people’s lives.  Faith can impact on people’s world view, attitudes and outlook in positive and negative ways.  It can create a negative culture of fatalism or blaming bad events on the perceived sins of others, or it can create a positive culture of compassion and service to others, especially the more vulnerable.
To encourage this more positive impact of faith, World Vision uses an approach called ‘Empowered World View’ in our livelihoods and resilience work.  This is an approach based on the use of Scripture and involving faith leaders, so that it uses language and stories that are familiar in the local contexts and works with faith leaders as people of influence and respect.  This paper outlines the unique, potential contributions of faith to global issues including climate change and environmental sustainability.
Empowered World View is a faith-based enabling development approach for mobilizing and empowering individual and communities’ potentials to transform their mindset, beliefs, and behaviour which affirm their identity, dignity, and agency to participate effectively in sustainable transformative change.  The approach looks at what the Bible, and other religious scriptures, says about the natural environment and the necessity to use natural resources wisely and with care.  This then links to the promotion of climate smart agricultural techniques and conservation agriculture, natural resource management, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
Because the approach starts from the common ground of faith and uses the language and expression of faith to build community cohesion and provide a solid basis for understanding the importance of addressing issues of natural resource management, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, it creates the necessary support and collective capacity to enable communities to tackle them.
To further improve the ability of the poorest and most vulnerable communities to adapt to the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, collaboration with geo-scientists can increase understanding of risks and hazards and the potential solutions to build community resilience.  If this can be done by bringing together geo-scientists and faith leaders, to develop a common understanding of faith and culture as well as science, this can bring about sustainable change in the world’s poorest communities, in ways that bring people together and build on different expertise and experiences.
World Vision is an international, child-focused, community based, Christian organisation, which works with people of all faiths or none. It has offices in nearly 100 countries around the world.  Our aim is to increase the well-being of some of the world’s most vulnerable children and their communities.  World Vision operates mainly in countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, working with communities on long term development programmes, humanitarian responses and policy and advocacy work to improve and strengthen systems and essential service provision.

How to cite: Garrett, J.: Empowered World View - bringing faith and science together to reduce risks, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-21315,, 2020


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  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-21315, Jan Boon (deceased), 30 Apr 2020

    Thank you for this presentation. Your approach makes sense and may open doors for dialogue and cooperation that otherwise would stay closed. How have geoscientists taken to this? Many may not feel particularly at ease with some or many religions, or am I wrong?

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Jason Garrett, 04 May 2020

      Thank you for your question Jan.  So far World Vision hasn't engaged veery directly with geoscientists on this, but we are open to ways in which we can engage more, especially regarding climate change and the more frequent and extreme hazards that result from it, and how we can effectively communicate the science of this to the communities where we work.  Being able to communicate scientific information in a way that still resonates with people's beliefs and worldviews, rather than appearing to reject them, is likely to have more success.

      In terms of geo-scientists not feeling at ease with religion, this may well depend on whether those scientists have a faith themselves (and many scientists do have a religious faith).  However, we would hope to be able to demonstrate that it is possible, and desirable, to engage with people of faith (and that is all faiths not just certain faiths), in scientific discussion if it is done through the traditions and scriptures associated with that faith.  That is not to to dismiss science as inferior to faith, but more to invite people of faith to examine scientific evidence by presenting it through a faith lens.  For example, using scriptural stories of floods, such as that associated in the Bible with Noah, to talk about early warning, preparedness, vulnerability, etc.

      • CC2: Reply to AC1, Jan Boon (deceased), 04 May 2020

        Thank you for your extensive reply. I agree with you and geoscientists would do well by taking into account uour observations. While the situation is slowly improving, still too many universities include social and humanities components in the geoscience curriculum and as a result many  well-itentioned geoscientists are at a loss when they have to deal with the aspedts you discussed.

        • CC3: Reply to CC2, Jan Boon (deceased), 05 May 2020

          My apologies. I meant to say "...many universities do not..."

      • CC5: Reply to AC1, Jan Boon (deceased), 08 May 2020

        Thank you Jason. You are right, the science narrative has to link to local narratives for it to be "absorbed". It would make good sense then to famiiarize oneself with the local belief systems and seek parallels. I have never done this yet. If I get the opportunity, I will give it a shot

  • CC4: Comment on EGU2020-21315, Solomon Isiorho, 07 May 2020

    What has been your experience working with traditional local religion people?