“India One” – a model of co-operation in renewables

Co-operation across sectors and borders has been in the spotlight at COP26 this week, with a flurry of new alliances and coalitions among coal-producing and consuming countries, financial institutions, philanthropists and others to forward the climate action agenda – if only by voluntary agreements.

And “India One”, inaugurated by the World Renewal Spiritual Trust and the Brahma Kumaris at the BKs’ headquarters in Rajasthan in 2017, was held up as a shining example of co-operation between faith groups and scientists in the field of renewable energy.

Faith and science working together

In a press conference on November 3, organized by the Brahma Kumaris, Prof. Mark Lawrence of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany, said the project demonstrated how science and faith can work together.

 “We need all hands on deck,” he said, expressing support for this approach to tackling the climate emergency.

A 1 MW solar thermal power plant, “India One” * was developed by the sister organizations, with funding from the German and Indian governments. A notable feature of the plant is the storage capacity, providing round-the-clock power tor thousands.

Prof. Lawrence said such cross-sector co-operation could be mutually beneficial with faith leaders providing important insight into public opinion from their reach among local communities. They may also be instrumental in persuading the public to adopt more sustainable ways of living.

Energy advisor to the BKs, Golo Pilz, gave an overview of the organization’s quarter century of work with solar energy, which has included offering free training for engineers from all over India at the BKs’ main campus. Among current projects are solar lanterns and solar steam cooking boxes for local communities.

 Addressing the theme of “resilience” in a time of climate emergencies, Sister Jayanti, Additional Administrative Head of the BKs, said core inner strength, rooted in self-esteem, enables us to face the world without fear. She noted references to this capacity at COP26 – with a “Resilience Lab” organized by the UNFCCC Resilience Frontiers initiative.

Golo Pilz, Prof. Mark Lawrence and Sister Jayanti were introduced by Sonja Ohlsson (second from right)

Being the change

Tackling the climate emergency requires policymakers' systems change and individuals' action to change the way they live.

In the workshop Conscious Consumption – changing food systems, held at Glasgow Unitarian Church Hall, November 3, Maureen Goodman and Shantanu Mandal invited participants to reflect on the process that food goes through from the moment of planting seeds to its consumption. Huge numbers of people are involved in food production, illustrating the depth of connectivity of our food systems.

The group identified individual awareness as a major challenge facing food systems today, and agreed our attitude and behavior needs to change.

Being part of the solution means growing your own food, or buying local; or eatingorganic, e.g. from farmers’ markets. Among values needed to move away from commercialization of food are:care, responsibility, gratitude, and appreciation.

Meditation connects us with our inner goodness, helps with resilience and provides more clarity for decision-making. Sustainable yogic agriculture (the process of meditating on the seeds, the land, and the crops), has been shown to result in a more nutritious, and higher yield, and improved quality of life for farmers.

Understanding our food systems is key to changing them

“India One” is the subject of two, one-day exhibitions in the UK Government’s Green Zone at Glasgow Science Centre. The first, on November 4, attracted a steady stream of visitors throughout the day. Sonja Ohlsson, international co-ordinator of the BK Environment Initiative, who manages the exhibition with GoloPilz, noted an interest among members of the public in the BKs’ environmental work and its connection with spirituality. 

The second showing will be on November 12, at the same venue.


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