Athletes Park (being prepared for the Olympics 2016, now being used for Rio+20. Many large country and business pavilions exhibiting)
Event: "2nd Journey of Environmental Education for Sustainable Societies" held at Government of Rio de Janeiro State Pavillion (the organizer). There were consecutive translators as well as translators for deaf people. The event was webcasted (http://www.un.org/webcast or http://rio20.ebc.com.br)
MC - Lara Moutinho, secretary of state of the environment of Rio de Janeiro.
Some highlights from the participants of the opening table:
Jayanti Kirpalani, director of Brahma Kumaris for Europe and Brahma Kumaris main representative at Rio + 20 conference. Luciana Ferraz took her place after the opening speech as Sister Jayanti had another presentation shortly afterwards. Education is a foundation of society. The reason our society has become disposable is because things and people are being treated as disposable and nobody is being educated otherwise. The habit of using things and throwing them away is prevalent in today's world. Even the concept of 'away' is meaningless. Where is away? There is no away. It goes somewhere. If we don't change our mentality from a linear one to cyclical, sustainability isn't possible. In actuality, the earth's resources are non-renewable in the sense that they are not forever. Mother Earth has given us much, so let's give back and show some restraint and reverence.
The subject of governments and governance also causes us to reflect about the spirit of service. An ideal leader is one that is able to give and is called to serve. Greed and desires cause selfishness and corruption, which is the cause of our current global problem. Only when there is real transformation, can we let go of greed and attachment so each one can receive enough. Aim to reduce what you use and what you need. This is not a question of sacrifice, but only a change of attitude. Let me be more available to my neighbour and to my world family. Let me live with simplicity. Let me be aware of my responsibility, and understand that today will most certainly be a fruitful day.
Nelton Miguel Friedrich, Director of Itaipu Binational greeted everyone and pointed out the importance of an education that promotes transformation. Mirian Duailibi, Ecoar – Institute for Citizenship, mentioned the celebration of 20 years of the Treaty on Environmental Education. José Vicente de Freitas, coordinator of environmental Education Department for Continuing Education, Literacy, Diversity and Inclusion (SECADI) of MEC acknowledged the responsibility of The Ministry of Education to promote environmental education in all levels and the need to develop strategies and guidelines. Samira Crespo, National Secretary of Environment shared an interesting perspective: 20 years after the Treaty on Environmental Education was established we can see that much has been done. If we look at what´s still missing, we may lose hope. But please let's move from disposable to durable, from competition to cooperation, from global to local. Talking to the converted is not enough. We desperately need to improve co-communication between global and local levels. Carlos Mink, Former Environmental Secretary of the state of RJ spoke of how good it was to see so many people's enthusiasm towards the environmental education. However, although we have much to celebrate we also need to implement. Provide resources to good projects and give space to best practices. Real environmental change is about changing behavior and awareness. This is the basis of Rio 20. It needs to begin at the level of schools working with a community in need. Theory is not enough. All people need to experience it for themselves to learn and contribute to creating a future that we can live with otherwise we risk having no future to our society. Unfortunately, Brazil doesn't have the culture of prevention. In Chile a ten-year-old child knows what to do in case of earthquakes but in Brazil, a thirty-year-adult doesn't know how to respond in a flood. Whatever we teach, about disasters and the environment, we must ensure that it is interesting, attractive, and entertaining so it becomes popular and young people learn. May the world move forward on the basis of solidarity and love. Ecological greetings to all.
Rio + 20 at Rio Centro
Side Event: "Interfaith response to Sustainable Development: Ecological Civilization'. Organizer: Temple of Understanding (the Brahma Kumaris were a co-organizer). Moderator: Grove Harris, (Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization). Participants: Sister Jayanti (Brahma Kumaris), Dr Vananda Shiva (Navdanya), Michael Slaby Soetendorp Institute and Joan Kirby (Temple of Understanding)
Dr Vananda Shiva has been working in ecological activities for more than forty years and she has dedicated her life to defending ecological civilization, especially with seed keepers and organic producers. She said that reawakening the spiritual power of people is important as this is the real power of transformation. We have the power to change the consciousness. This is spiritual power. And when we consider religions, not a single faith has ever said: destroy the earth. Every faith teaches to respect every being of the earth. The only power against the brute force (of multinational organisation) is spirituality. When we engage with corporations, we should take the right actions, i.e. save seeds, resist wrongs, maintain ethical moral resistance and to engage in open dialogue without subservience.
Dr Shiva proposed:
- To create seed centres in every place where people of faith meet, i.e. churches, synagogues, temples, etc.
- To teach people how to take care - and protect and share - their seed
- To contribute to a report, due on October 2012 on "what is seed in your faith?"
Sister Jayanti spoke of how we people of faith, have to work in a very specific direction: If there is right awareness, there is right action. There has been discussion about three pillars: economic, social and environmental and that spirituality is the fourth pillar. However, spirituality is not a pillar, and certainly not one of the four, but rather spirituality is the foundation of all the others interrelated areas of social, economic and environmental. We must seek economic improvement through change of consciousness, as social change is only possible through a change of consciousness. Further, respect for the environment begins deep inside my own identity. When I change my consciousness to having a clear spiritual identity, this awareness allows self-respect to develop whereupon respect, appreciation and love for others and nature becomes automatic. Spirituality is at the heart of all religions and traditions. When I recognize creation and respect it, knowing the Creator, I have the consciousness of being a "trustee", a "steward" and can care for it. Nature doesn't belong to me. I am blessed to live on this earth, and it is my job to treat the elements with care and restraint. Everything and everyone around me contains the energy of pure creation.
Michael Slaby who was standing in for Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, who had not yet arried in Rio, said that eighty five percent of the population identify with a religion or spiritual path: Imagine if we were all to work together for sustainability. It is of vital importance that the green projects within churches and spiritual communities grow, as it is our duty to create a world filled with collaboration, truth and happiness. An interreligious statement prepared by many religious leaders, including Dadi Janki and guided by Rabbi Soetendorp cites: "humble in the consciousness that the consequences of our decisions and actions will be felt by many generations to come, we turn to the Source of all blessings for strength and courage. May our children and our children's children take pride in our actions". Michael proposed suggesting a minute of silence and meditation to the delegates of the world before initiating the most important meeting in Rio+20.
Sister Joan Kirby spoke of the importance of deepening our spiritual awareness and assuming our personal responsibility to transform our consciousness. "We have a very concrete job: to go back to our religious traditions to revive the essence of our personal love and respect for our mother earth".
Responding to Climate Change TV Interview
Joachim Golo Pilz was interviewed about how to tackle sustainable development through spirituality by the UN supported TV channel that covers the environment conferences.
Afternoon tea gathering at the BK delegation house
The BK international and Brazilian teams invited friends to an afternoon tea in the house where we are staying in Barra. Around 15 special friends came, including Ricardo Young, Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, Diane Williams, Sam Leal and Yolanda Cerqueira Leite. The BKs here prepared beautiful snacks for everyone. After small and friendly conversations on the patio the group moved into the spacious and airy meditation room and gathered together with Sister Jayanti. In an easy and informal way Sister Jayanti spoke emphasizing the groundswell of spirituality that now seems to be discussed at this UN conference.
She was touched by how Rio was able to bring environmental, spiritual, and business practices together, and by the renewable energy of hope that is being echoed in many of the presentations. Rio + 20 has introduced the subject of spirituality in a more impactful way. Sister Jayanti recalled Brahma Baba, the founder of the Brahma Kumaris, who spoke of time when there will once again be a deep harmony between people and their own bodies, with others ,and with the natural world. Whatever goes on in the world inside, will reflect and impact upon the world outside.
Some of the guests shared their experience of reflective practices being initiated in various UN bodies. Others expressed their sense that some of the masks are beginning to fall away as the world is running out of options and that is the start of creating the future we want. Learning how to talk to each other, as well as changing the quality of conversation we have with our own selves, is part of the change required.
After the tea and discussion, we extended an invitation for everyone to stay for World Meditation Hour, although it had been a long day for all our guests, most decided to stay. At the end they all reflected on what a powerful experience they had, closing the day in a very silent and special way.
Interreligious Vijil at the People's Summit
The theme of the vigil was 'For Social and Environmental Justice, Against the Commodification of Life'. In the evening, a group of 32 traditions promoted the event with a series of artistic performances and religious rituals, performed by the Area Rights of Religion / Peoples' Summit / Rio +20, Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro. BK Tereza Cristina read a message on the Sunflower. At the end, each person received packets with sunflower seeds and a card with the Sunflower. The seed of a plant that blooms guided by the sun, symbolizing the full growth of the human being when facing the Supreme Light, God.