A holistic approach to nature

The Brahma Kumaris at COP15 – a Holistic Approach to Nature

At the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), progress remained slow and divisions among negotiators difficult to bridge. But the Brahma Kumaris (BKs), often working in collaboration with faith based organisations (FBOs), kept true to their stance that a holistic approach is the basis to living in harmony with Nature – and it encompasses important areas such as human rights, and the needs of indigenous people and local communities. 

Negotiations on the post-2020 global framework on biodiversity (GBF) remained stymied for days over key areas: Protecting 30% of land and water resources globally by 2030 (the “30×30” goal); implementation and monitoring mechanisms; and support for indigenous and local communities. Disagreements grew, with a number of parties walking out of discussions. Business representatives seeking clarity, and media seeking information, expressed frustration. 

View of the room during a contact group

Perhaps predictably, finance remained a sticking-point. Yet, as the Worldwide Fund for Nature pointed out at a press conference, the estimated $700bn per annum needed to protect biodiversity is dwarfed by spending on subsidies for agriculture, the sector that does most harm to it.

As a spiritual organisation, the BKs focus on inner work: Developing our inner consciousness at the individual level, we then work outwards to the people around us, to humanity in general and to the Earth. In a number of meetings and press briefings, BK delegates explained the approach and led meditation experiences; the practice of offering daily “peace breaks” to recharge inner strength became established among the FBOs following our example.

Awakening a flourishing future

Introducing the discussion paper “Awakening a Flourishing Future” at a press conference, David Fletcher, Canada, said its purpose was to encourage a profound shift in awareness. This would assist us in reaching the GBF targets. And he encouraged all present to share a minute’s silence, to catch their breath and find an inner stillness.

The document proposes “ecosynthesis”, the harmonious weaving of inner and outer worlds, as a way to promote healing, to truly value the Earth’s resources and to create wellbeing all around us. Just as sunlight is fundamental to life on Earth, as the basis of photosynthesis in plants, so ecosynthesis is a bio-spiritual-dynamic process from within that can heal, regenerate and build a flourishing relationship with the individual self, with others, with the divine and with Nature.

Maureen Goodman, UK, said the global framework goal of a harmonious civilization is based on values such as love, respect, compassion and humility. We recognise the profound impact our consciousness has on all our relationships and on the Earth. She highlighted Sustainable Yogic Agriculture (SYA), promoted by the BKs among marginalised farming communities in India, where meditation at every stage of the crop cycle has been proven to have measurable effects on quality and quantity of yields, as well as on the mental and emotional health of the communities.

Developing inner resources can unlea

sh transformation in our relationships with others and with the outside world, David noted. It may seem a “radical thought”, but if we start inside and nurture our inner self, we can “make the change we want to see.”

Meeting with CBD Executive Secretary

The power of FBOs to bring about change was acknowledged by Executive Secretary of the UNCBD, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema at a meeting with faith representatives on December 12th. They touch the lives of local communities across the globe and have a vital role in both explaining the complex issues surrounding biodiversity with clarity and in promoting action at the grassroots, she said, adding it is noteworthy that many officials involved in the negotiations follow a religion or spiritual tradition.

FBOs meeting the CBD Executive SecretaryAs if in illustration of this, faith organisation delegates joined the BKs at L’Emergence, our centre in Montreal, for a 

reception and in-depth discussion on faith and biodiversity. Introduced by Gopal Patel of the Hindu organisation Bhumi Global, and facilitated by Valeriane Bernard, France, it brought together representatives from Buddhist, Moslem, and Christian faiths along with Maureen, to focus on profound ideas and traditions of respect and love for life on Earth – foundations underpinning all the world’s spiritual cultures.

Discussion circle at L’Emergence

Action on the ground

As noted above, practical projects initiated or promoted by the BKs were discussed at a number of events. They also feature in a documentary film made for the conference that features SYA, solar energy, a major project to plant and nurture trees – all in India – and a contribution through meditation practice to the Great Green Wall across sub-Saharan Africa, a flagship project of the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration.

However, whether Ministers and UN officials will rise to the very considerable challenges of hammering out a final agreement for COP15 remains to be seen. Britain’s Financial Times has even gone so far as to write that the Conference leadership seems unwilling to “bang heads together”! Leading economist Partha Dasgupta has also written that nature is mobile, and many of her processes silent and invisible, suggesting normal ways of addressing the world’s problems are inadequate to the task. 

All the more reason to look to an approach based on the holistic and the spiritual. 

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