COP17, UN’s Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa – 6th Dec.

Wisdom from the Past, Solutions for the Present - hosted by the Gandhi Development Trust/Satyagraha.


Ela Ghandhi event_web

Panel discussion at Diakonia, lead by Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi.

The afternoon began with a visual presentation of posters created by the Gandhi Development Trust with quotations from Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Martin Luther King and E.F. Schumacher.  Young people were then asked to offer their interpretation of the posters.

It was beautiful to hear them describe not only their understanding but the hopes and vision that the posters inspired.  Next, the panel of speakers added their input, drawing on the wisdom of ancient traditions.  At the end, Ela Gandhi blessed the program and distributed gifts to all the panelists.

The panelists were:

  • Sister Jayanti Kirpalani, Regional Director of BKWSU, Europe and BKWSU representative to the United Nations, Geneva
  • Liz Palmer, founder of Art Works Trust, an NGO working with children and communities exposed to high levels of violence
  • Crispin Hemson, Director of the International Centre of Nonviolence, former senior lecturer in Social Justice Education at UKZN
  • Golo Pilz based in India, whose work with solar energy systems and alternative energy sources has made the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University become one of the leading and largest single users of renewable energy in India
  • Nirmala Nair, director of ZERISA, the South African arm of a global network ZERI (Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives. Her current focus is on designing solutions-oriented learning-healing spaces for youth to explore their creative genius to rethink sustainability

Heart of Sustainable Development was a panel discussion at the NGO Forum which explored the role of spirituality in ensuring development and the eradication of poverty.  In a gathering of 80 people, moderator Pratiba Daya introduced speakers: Sister Jayanti Kirpalani, Regional Director of BKWSU, Europe, Dr. Blessing Karumbidza, Senior Researcher at Social Economic Rights Institute, SA, and Ms. Nirmala Nair, Director Zeri SA, Cape Town.

Ms. Nirmala Nair is a businessperson who helps other companies to become more sustainable. She finds that ancient wisdom brings solutions for current and future problems. Globalisation is not helping with poverty related issues. Many are just using the word “sustainability” for profit making. In the name of sustainability, ideas have been stolen and sold back to the people for profit.
Dr. Blessing Karumbidza shared how, in today’s world, people are recognized by how many commodities they have. These days, it isn’t values but material possessions that indicate a successful person. Although Blessing has acquired a lot of titles, his definition of a successful family paradigm incorporates the spirit of Ubuntu, “I exist because you exist”, and does not depend on the attainments of a materialistic lifestyle.

Sister Jayanti directed the conversation into self empowerment and led the audience into an empowering silent reflection. She shared how our current thoughts can become the peace that we give to the environment, and how personal power is needed to preserve the environment.
People, governments and big businesses are not solution for our sustainability. To have continued sustainability, we need to get to know our spiritual selves and use our own values. We can’t do it alone, we need a helping hand.  For this a connection with God is necessary.


Interview by Smart Planet

Ruth Liddle from the UK was interviewed by Betwa Sharma of Smart Planet asking about the connection between Brahma Kumaris, consciousness and climate change.

Momentum for Change

The UNFCCC secretariat is launching a new initiative, which aims to enhance the visibility of projects that both benefit communities and either increase climate resilience or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Moderator, Lord Nicholas Stern introduced 10 initiatives that had been chosen because they were actionable, scalable, and replicable. An initiative in the Philippines of using plastic bottles filled with water as lamps during daylight was one of them. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, underlined the fact that sustainability will be the top priority in the UN for the next five years.  Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa said that is not a common thing in history for humanity to agree on one thing, referring to the decisions that need to be taken during the negations.

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