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The ICE Network:
Inter-religious Climate

and Ecology Network

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

                                                 FHSM/VIHARA

 

Indonesia                               Solidaritas Perempuan / Aksi!

                                                CDCC & Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta

                                                Gusdurian

Japan                                      Niwano Peace Foundation

                                                 JNEB

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

                                                 Ju 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

                                                Green Earth

                                                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

                                                Nonamegi

                                                Peace Village Network

                                                Wonbulgyo Eco Network

 

Sri Lanka                               Sevalanka Foundation

                                                Eco friendly Volunteer

 

Taiwan                                    Tzu Chi

 

Thailand                                 International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)

                                                IUCN-Thailand

                                                CGIAR research program on Water, Land and ecosystem-Greater Mekong

                                                Mab Auang Centre

                                                BioThai Foundation

                                                Spirit in Education Movement

                                                Dhamma Drop Foundation

 

Tibet                                       DiversEarth

 

UK                                           European Buddhist Union

USA                                         Oxfoard University

PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATION

ICE CONFERENCE II