The Brahma Kumaris coordinators for Brazil Br. Ken O'donnell and Sis. Luciana Ferraz have build up excellent relations with high level people involved in sustainable development through the yeas since the 80's and so preparation for Rio + 20 started many years ago and the international team have been focusing specifically on this Rio+20 conference since last year. As well as the UN conference, Rio is the host for another big conference. The Brazilian Civil Society organized itself to create the Peoples Summit, in 1992, and the tradition continues. In 1992 the BK delegation included Dadi Janki, Sis Mohini and Gayatri. This year the international delegation includes Sister Jayanti, Ken O'Donnell and Luciana Ferraz (Brazil), Julia Grindon-Welch and Tamasin Ramsay (USA), Valeriane Bernard ( Switzerland), Sonja Ohlsson (Denmark), Golo Pilz (India), Piero Musini (Italy), Juan Milling (Canada) Two Bks who are in the field of sustainable agriculture and climate change, Theresa Lugones (Italy) and Patricia Iturregui (Peru) joined us later. There are a total of 20 BKs, including local BKS, participating in our activities here.
In 1992 the Civil Society conference fed into the UN process resulting in many innovative decisions. In 2012 the Peoples Summit has organized more than 1500 panels, round tables, and conversations, and will host an assembly where all the different visions and proposals converge.
This year, the activities by faith-based organisations in the People's Summit is being organised by Religions for Rights. The Brahma Kumaris will be participating in at least 10 different panels, and round tables as well as other diverse spiritual activities.
Valerianne Bernard came almost a month early to help organise our time and events here. She also conducted different events on sustainability. One retreat that was particularly successful was held in Serra Negra where the participants came to deeply realise the important role awareness plays in true sustainability, and also the need to be personally responsible for restoring a sustainable relationship with matter and nature.
SÃO PAULO 7th-12th June
Sister Jayanti arrived on the 7th June in Brazil direct into a retreat with 300 BKs in the city of Serra Negra, state of São Paulo. The topic was: Journey Back to the Essence.
On 10th June there was a public program in Hotel Intercontinental (5 star), for 500 people. The topic was SUSTAINABLE RELATIONSHIPS: how to live with wellbeing and happiness. Professors Rachel Biderman and Marcos Sorrentino, specialists on the topic of Environment and Sustainability shared on the topic followed by Sister Jayanti. Ken O'Donnell closed the programs with some remarks. The event was conducted by TV well known interviewer Leilane Neubarth. A violinist opened and closed the program with music.
On Monday a get together of about 30 friends (high level contacts) of the BKs gathered to share a DIALOGUE on SUSTAINABLE ATTITUDES. The three guests on the panel were Sister Jayanti, Mr. Ricardo Young, from the business sector and Mrs. Christina Carvalho Pinto, from the media sector, both well known in the Sustainable arena.
Belo Horisonte 10th-11th June
LIVING IN HARMONY talk in Belo Horisonte, Brazil, 10th June 2012. In spite of a public holiday weekend, the lecture hall at Belo Horisonte was full of people wanting to hear about the link between Spirituality and the Environment. Using the concept of life cycles, Sonja Ohlsson from Denmark introduced the two different attitudes of either resistance or harmony.
She also underlined that in order to live in harmony with the natural flow of things, the ability to listen is one of the main skills needed. Some people in the audience will also be going to Rio + 20 conference as part of their work and there was an atmosphere of enthusiasm that the worlds focus will be on this part of the country.
Next day there was a meeting with the team heading the Green Scheme of the State of Minas Gerais. We shared experiences of how to implement long lasting change of habits in the workplaces.
Rio de Jeniro - Rio + 20 Begins
At the same time as the official preparatory meetings started, the Brahma Kumaris delegation got together for the first in-house meeting in a beautiful house, where they are staying, in the area of Barra in Rio de Janiero, The house is about fifteen mins away from RioCentro where the UN conference is being held. The international team met with the Brazilian team from 3 centres in Rio de Janeiro, from the centre in Belo Horisonte and Sao Paolo. The whole delegation got together to discuss the up and coming next 10 days of our participation in this conference.
Sister Jayanti introduced our new statement "Aligned Awareness and Action for the Future we Want" and how the environment is included in our UN work. Ken shared his thoughts about that the essence of spirituality is how a mother takes care of her child, or how a gardener takes care of his garden. That sustainability means to always include the future in whatever we think, or do or into our relationships. He talked about sustainable involvement instead of sustainable development.
Last minute opportunity for exhibition at Rio + 20
This conference is bringing together Major Groups and governments. Major Groups includes NGOs. So, as an NGO with a strong environmental interest, we were given a last minute opportunity to set up an exhibition on our various environmental initiatives. We exhibited our work on 4 panels that included 'Living in Harmony' (which includes our perspective on Aligning Awareness with Action for the Future we Want), Yogic Agriculture, and India One our solar energy power plant.