Side Event: Aligning Awareness and Action for the Future We Want, organized by the Brahma Kumaris. Moderator: Dr Tamasin Ramsay
Joachim Golo Pilz, Director of the Solar Research Institute, World Renewal Spiritual Trust and renewable energy advisor to the Brahma Kumaris presented the main achievements of Brahma Kumaris in providing a solar energy system that has the capacity to prepare 35,000 meals daily. He emphasised that to bring sustainable changes in our lives, we need to change our awareness, attitude and thinking to the point where we make a positive environmental impact with our personal life styles and choices.
Beatriz Schulthess, President of Consejo Espiritual Ancestral Pueblos Indígenas stated that the root causes of the systems breakdown is the recent history of humanity forgetting their connection and interrelatedness with the elements of our planet. When we speak about the far away past we know there was harmony. But natural laws have been ignored and now we witness the result.
Grove Harris from the Temple of understanding spoke about the energy of love and the activities that are inspired by spiritual practice. She proposed how some activities relate to ecological practice. Bypassing the mind and opening the heart are important skills that can be stimulated by singing. This is an ancient practice only recently forgotten. At the end all the attendees sung for the air, fire and water as guided by Grove Harris.
Sierra Flanigan from Eco-Motion and United Religions Initiative, stated that humans are disconnected and have a fragmented understanding of reality. We need to ask ourselves always, what sustain us.
Sraddhalu Ranade from the Global Peace Initiative of Women mentioned that we live in a world where there is unnecessary excess. Everything is depends on everything else. We fix one part and we are conflicting with the rest. We need to understand the cause more deeply. Is there something more essential? This crisis is spiritual. Good intentions are not good enough. We need a threefold correction: To broaden our awareness; shift our inner world and understand we are timeless and spaceless; and connect with the spiritual world above rationality, through intuitive knowledge, and develop the consciousness of oneness.
Sister Jayanti from Brahma Kumaris, stated that an attitude of fragmentation lies at the heart of our crisis. What happens outside is a mirror of what is happening inside. If we align ourselves with the ascending energy that is currently present, and we take energy from up above we can bring change through compassion, generosity, sharing and so on. If we stop being aware, then we are subject to external influences.
Event: Water is Life
The Ecumenical Water Network arranged the side event: The Spirituality and Ethics of Water, co-sponsored by the United Religions Initiative, URI,; the Faiths Without Borders and the World Council of Churches. Andre Porto from Brazil moderated a panel with Dr. Reijo E. Heinonen, Finland, Ms. Rebecca Gonzales-Tobias, USA, Mr. David Weaver, USA.
The question that facilitated the discussion among the panellists was... "who owns the water?" Water is life, and so who owns life? At the end of the rich exchange there was a ceremony with people from different faith traditions bringing water from their own countries. Sonja Ohlsson from the Brahma Kumaris in Denmark introduced Brahma Kumaris in this ceremony.
School of Commerce
Joachim Golo Pilz presented the Renewable Solar Energy project for an hour to around 50 youth in the school of commerce (SESC). This is a most prestigious national organization and is dedicated to education, culture and sports. The Federal Senate organised the program, and we were invited to participate through Senator Cristovam Buarque. He? was accompanied by Sonja Ohlsson and Patricia Carvalho.
The group of 16-17 year old students asked: How should we store energy? Why do governments not invest more in alternative energies? Joachim Golo Pilz inspired the youth with a discussion about self-empowerment and methods to stay inspired.
After Golo's presentation, Sister Luciana and Teresa Lugones joined them to attend a sustainable short jazz concert and a panel with Marina Silva, former Environment Minister of Brazil, Edgar Morin, from the Institute of Research in Politics, from Paris/ France, the indigenous chief Raoni, from the XINGU Indigenous Park in the central Brazil.
Role of corporations in sustainable development
Ken O'Donnell and Teresa Lugones attended an event arranged by Global Compact, Brazil entitled: Innovation and Collaboration for Sustainable Development. There were representatives from the most important corporations and high-level politicians from all over Brazil. Some of our contacts who were present on the panel were: Ricardo Young, from the Institute for Democracy and Sustainability; Jorge Samec, President Itaipú Hidroelectric; Isabella Teixeira, Minister of the Environment of Brazil; Gilberto Carvalho, General Secretary of the Presidency of Brazil; Ricardo Voltolini, Publisher of Sustainability Magazine.
All the panelists agreed that Brazil should demonstrate to foreign countries how to successfully move from a consumer society to a society that focussed on wellbeing as the aim and the measure. A spiritual approach is at the heart of considering well-being and enabling a change of civilisation through improved education, reduction of working hours, and increased social connectivity, time for creative pursuits and the opportunity to spend time in nature. There has to be negotiation between all the different actors to enable this.
A new model of production and a new model of consumption is being born. Spirituality is being introduced in the management of enterprises to stimulate a different working environment. Prosperity of enterprises depends on their capacity of inducing this change. We have seen our previous models fail. We therefore need to be detached from old forms, have the courage to change and the wisdom to fundamentally change our values. After our event, we met the Chief Minister of Brazil, Ms Gleisi Hoffman.
Empowering Youth Leadership for a Sustainable Future - Report by Juan Vazquez
I had been looking for tools to improve leadership in my daily life and so I was attracted by the title of this event. A mix of youth and adults who shared their powerful positive experiences conducted it. One of the most enjoyable was experiences was from a women who went to Bhutan, a small country of 700 thousand people between India and China. She told of meeting the King of Bhutan who told her the story of the country changing their economy from one of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to Gross National Happiness (GNH). The government has decided to employ only renewable energy, supporting cultural conservation as a priority and - impressively - that because Bhutan's carbon foot print is in credit, the extra energy is sold to India. She finished by reminding everyone that we are all the creators of change, and the new era of unity is about to begin.
Jean Paul mentioned the efforts and commitments of those who hadn't had the opportunity to come to Brazil. Being the one responsible for the Rio+20 music contest, he presented the winning singer with an award, and the session was completed with a beautiful song.
Education we want for the new century, social and environmental justice.
Moderator: Rachel Trajber
Speakers: Moacir Gadotti (Instituto Paulo Freire), Celita Eccher (International Council for Adult Education), Ilich Ortiz (Latin American Committee for Education - CLADE), Uchita of Zoysa (Treaty of the Peoples for Sustainability), Robbie Guevara (International Council for Adult Education - Asia and South Pacific), Valeriane Bernard (Brahma Kumaris),Marina Silva (Silva Institute), Moema Viezzer Network (Planet of the Treaty on Environmental Education).
Valeriane Bernard, representative of the Brahma Kumaris to the UN in Geneva, began her presentation by sharing that we all want the same thing; we want to be happy, peaceful and feel well. She recalled when in 1995 the Brahma Kumaris asked people from 50 different countries which are the most important values in their culture. They determined that human values are truly universal. The seed of a life filled with value, are thoughts based on these universal values. How can I strengthen my mind in this way, and better manage my inner world, she asked. Education is a continuous process for which each person is responsible. Values, qualities and power can be taught, like any skill, and become part of my character.
Marina Silva, senator, representative of the Institute Marina Silva, recognised that we are living in an important moment where there is a coming together of diverse perceptions and diverse paths. Our current challenge of sustainability is a crisis of civilization, which is an economic, social, environmental, political, and values crisis. To heal this crisis we need to restore values that are at the foundation.