ASSISI (A Strategic, Systems-based, Integrated Sustainability Initiative) was developed by Catholic Earthcare to provide a framework for sustainable development and fulfilment of a transformative ecological vision for Catholic schools, parishes and church communities, agencies and congregations.
The overarching aim of the ASSISI initiative is to provide a foundation for and a pathway to best practice in achieving ecological sustainability in Catholic schools, parishes, church agencies and organisations across Australia. The definition of ecological education which has been put forward for Catholic schools is relevant and appropriate for all Catholic organisations and agencies. It is described as:
A life-long process of recognising values and clarifying concepts in order to develop skills and attitudes necessary to understand and appreciate the inter-relatedness of all creation, and to know of creation as a gift from God which requires equitable sharing and right relationship.
It also entails practice in decision making for living a life that is ecologically and ethically sustainable.
Long-lasting, deep change for individuals, organisations and communities takes time, and as such the ASSISI initiative was designed as a long term approach, inspired by Catholic teachings, values and beliefs. It is aimed at developing, implementing and monitoring the processes needed to facilitate the development of a spirituality of communion that is at the heart of achieving ecological conversion and ecological sustainability in the Catholic Church in Australia.
The approach we take is not one based on compliance with externally imposed models and frameworks. The ‘learning communities’ approach involves a co-created process that enables organisations to work meaningfully with broader sustainability frameworks and make autonomous decisions appropriate to their own context and that link with their strategic intent. This enables the deeper understanding required for full ownership and embedding of ecological sustainability into all aspects of organisational life in the context of, and in collaboration with, the broader community.
The integrated elements that inform the learning community framework for sustainability are captured in the ASSISI Model developed by Catholic Earthcare in 2008. This model is extremely useful as a roadmap for integrating the ASSISI principles and processes into your organisation.