Opening Remarks ‘Climate Change, Sustainability and Resilience’
Asian Civil Society Conference on Climate Change andEcology
April 24-May 2. 2015, Seoul, South Korea
By Dr. Nigel Crawhall(IUCN CEESP, INEB Executive Committee)
In 2010, I journeyed to Chiang Mai for the 20th anniversary of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB). I had found INEB on the internet – proof that technology is as good as the intentions we have to use it wisely. I asked if I could run a workshop on climate change. They welcomed me. In that first working group I heard powerful stories. Burmese survivors of cyclone Nargiss talked about the terror and vulnerability of that awesome storm. Himalayan delegates told of the melting glaciers and landslides. Vietnamese monks spoke of poor communities struggling with salt rising up in their rice paddies. People spoke of droughts, food insecurity, deforestation, vulnerability. In one small session you could hear the whole story of the human impact
I think I knew it would all work when I had a friendly conversation with the Hindu priest of the Ganesha cult who was working on forest conservation and the revitalising of the sacred traditions of forest stewardship in north Sri Lanka. He listened to me talk about the science of climate change and the moral challenges. He thought a bit and said that in his understanding, the challenge was with our human desires. Our fire chakra, the manipura chakra, was completely pulling us around in life these days.
Pointing to his midriff, he explained that when we desire external things too much, we feed the fire chakra. The more we consume, the hotter we burn. As the inside burns, so we heat the outside world, eventually incinerating ourselves and the planet about us. Global warming, for the priest, arises in our desires and our inability to find a balance in life. Consumption as an ever accelerating process cannot lead to either sustainability or to peace. The fire chakra, in my understanding, is a place of human creativity. It is that place where our human capacity has the potential for transformation and impact. Applied wisely, our fire element gives us courage, makes us more creative, heats the heart centre and draws us closer to union with the divine and sacred nature of the universe.
In this conference, we are going to be exploring the relationship between the internal world and its outer manifestation. We will consider our desires, our consciousness, our ability to be creative while held in a framework of compassion and wholesome intentions. Will we use our human potential to protect, honour and nourish the world, or to burn ourselves up through spiraling desires fed by a commodity-driven economy?
We trust that you will find the conference rewarding and inspiring. Evidently, it asks us to face some of the uglier aspects of human nature, it also invites us to return to the deepest truths of our scriptures and to find within our darkness and confusion a profound truth about what humans are capable of doing when we start from a point of mindfulness, gratitude, compassion and respect for life.
Whatever change we want to see, it will arise in our hearts and minds and bring us closer to one another. Whether in Latin or Pali, Sanskrit or Arabic, Korean or Thai - our ancestors have passed on to us the wealth of their understanding. It is our particular generation which is sitting at the crossroads, deciding the fate of millions of people and tens of thousands of other species.
From my own tradition, we have been taught that there is suffering which leads to more suffering, or suffering which becomes the foundation for ultimate liberation. Let us use this occasion to do our best.
Bangladesh Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development
Mahachula University, Thailand
Atish Dipankar Society (ADS)
Bhutan School Education Division, Royal Education Council
Cambodia NGOs Forum on Cambodia
Khmer Youth and Social Development
American Friends Service Committee
China/Hong Kong Our Voices
France Brahma Kumaris
Hungary-Austria Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability
India UNDP / ICCBRM
Indonesia Solidaritas Perempuan / Aksi!
CDCC & Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta
Japan Niwano Peace Foundation
Kenya We Have Faith
Laos Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)
Malaysia Senior Research Officer, Centre for the Study of Shari'ah, Law and Politics, IKIM
Myanmar Gai Ha Hi Ta
Simplicity Circle (Consumer Education Network)
Kalyana Mitta Development Foundation
Dawei Development Association
Alternative Education for Social Engagement
Philippine Global Ecovillage Network Oceania and Asia
Fast for Climate Justice
Senegal President, GEN Africa
South Africa The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee
South Korea Buddhist Ecological Contents Institute
Citizen's Institute for Environmental Studies
Green Asia Network
Korea Brahma Kumaris Association
Korean Buddhists’ Foundation for Social-Welfare & Volunteering
Korean Catholic Solidarity for Creation Integrity
Korea Christian Environmental Movement Solidarity for integrity of Creation (KCEMS)
Korea Federation for Environmental Movement
Peace Village Network
Wonbulgyo Eco Network
Sri Lanka Sevalanka Foundation
Eco friendly Volunteer
Taiwan Tzu Chi
Thailand International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)
CGIAR research program on Water, Land and ecosystem-Greater Mekong
Mab Auang Centre
Spirit in Education Movement
Dhamma Drop Foundation
UK European Buddhist Union
USA Oxfoard University