COP17, UN’s Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa – 7th Dec.

Sustainable Capacity Building - Empowering Individuals and Communities to Act

Panel discussion at the NGO Forum, UKZN. The first speaker, Golo Pilz, set the context of climate change globally and provided statistics to illustrate the accelerating depletion of the earth's resources. He highlighted the role of spiritual values and the resulting lifestyle of simplicity, and explained the positive effects these have on reducing the impact of climate change. In his capacity of solar advisor for the Brahma Kumaris, Golo gave details of the solar implementations at the Brahma Kumaris Headquarters in Rajasthan and at various other centers throughout India. His projects were received with keen interest from the audience who saw the possibilities solar energy holds for Africa, since Africa has similar climate conditions to India.

Practicing environmental attorney and author Cormac Cullinan, director of Enact International, was the second panelist. He highlighted the fact that we will fail to find sustainable solutions as long as we hold a mechanistic view of the earth that is, seeing the earth as an object that has to be exploited for our convenience. This thinking has led to competitiveness which reflects behaviour which is rooted in fear. Cormac was a lead drafter of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, a document which provides a basis for conversation and aims to shift awareness to create a more compassionate, respectful attitude towards the earth. He shared an incredible example in Bolivia, where the community took developers to court on behalf of a river because of pollution and lack of respect for the river. The river won the case!!!

Valeriane Moderating_web

Our third and final speaker was Sister Jayanti who highlighted that, in addition to disrespect for matter and nature, we have begun to see humans as just resources. This has led to a decline in the respect for the innate value for people.  It is a question of identity, where we see ourselves and each other based on our physical identity only.  To see each other as spiritual beings is a critical shift that has to happen to make a difference in the world.

We are aware that conditions in the world are deteriorating, so it is vital that we build our inner capacity and equip ourselves to deal with this.  Meditation enhances our ability to access our inner wisdom.  This enables us to have the accurate judgment necessary to make correct decisions.  Sister Jayanti ended the discussion by guiding everyone into a beautiful meditation, offering an opportunity to experience the peace and stillness at the core of our hearts.

Interview Engineering Company

Worley Parsons Resources & Energy, based in Durban invited Golo Pilz to speak on renewable energy to their staff. A group of 10 engineers attended the presentation on building capacity.  Golo highlighted the importance of a shift in consciousness to make full use of existing sustainable technologies. After that he had a fruitful discussion with the engineers on green construction technology.

Climate Justice and Food Security – Moral, Ethical and Spiritual Imperatives – Panel discussion

The World Council of Churches, Caritas Internationalis, and World Conference of Religions for Peace organised a panel discussion and invited Sister Jayanti of Brahma Kumaris to take part.  Entitled: 'Climate Justice and Food Security – Moral, Ethical and Spiritual Imperatives', seven religious leaders participated in thea ninety minute dialogue on the ethical and spiritual dimensions of climate change and food security.
Moderator, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Chair, KwaZulu-Natal Inter-religious Council, invited each speaker to address the theme with the flavour of his or her own culture and faith.
Reverend Mardi Tindal, Moderator, United Church of Canada shared how we need as faith based organisations to change the language we use since our language should reflect faith, love and respect and not violence.
Rabbi Hillel Avidan from Temple David of Durban explained how, in the Jewish religion, it is said that one should see God behind every human being and behind the whole creation.  We should appreciate how precious the creation is to God and see ourselves as His co-workers.
Sister Jayanti explained how we need to respect the self and others and love the self as a child of the Divine. Only then can we live a non violent life conducive to harmony and balance with nature. (The full report on her intervention will be on line.)
Reverend Nicta Lubaale, Organization of African Instituted Churches suggested that in the daily prayer where people say: “Lord, give us our daily bread”, the people of today really mean give me my daily bread. The prayer is actually intended to take us beyond “me” and “mine” into a vision of brotherhood.
Mrs. Bedria Mohammed Ahmed, Ethiopian Interfaith Development Dialogue and Action, shared with us the Koran perspective on environment. 750 verses mention nature. It says the earth and the heavens belong to God, and we therefore should not destroy or damage them.
Presbyterian, Patricio E. Sarlat Flores, Executive Secretary, Episcopal Commission, Caritas, México, gave us an indigenous Christian perspective on the responsibility of human beings towards “Mother Earth”.
Dr. Ela Gandhi – Honorary President, Religions for Peace stressed how we need to respect and love the self, the earth, and our fellow human beings. In his final comments, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier stated how we need to come from a heart based perspective when working for climate change.

Interfaith panel_web

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