On 21 July 2015, in the run-up to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in November-December 2015, a �Summit of Conscience for the Climate� took place in Paris.
This Summit was organized by the President of the French Republic, Mr Fran�ois Hollande, and brought together around fifty influential moral and religious personalities from across the world: high-level religious authorities, scientists, Nobel Laureates, artistes, men and women long committed to the preservation of the environment and building a world that shows solidarity. They appealed for combating climate change through a �Call to the Conscience for the Climate�.
Launched by Nicolas Hulot, Special Representative of the President of the French Republic for the Protection of the Planet, this Summit was jointly organized by R20, whose Founder-President is Arnold Schwarzenegger; ARC (Alliance of Religions and Conservation) founded by Prince Phillip; and the French Economic, Social and Environment Council (CESE).
The personalities from India were: Ms. Nanditha Krishna, Director and Founder of the CPR Centre for Environmental Education; Ms. Vandana Shiva, environmental activist; Mr Gumbir Singh, WWF-India Punjab State and Mr Swami Amritasvarupananada, representative of Mata Amritanandamayi.
The speakers shared their wisdom and personal reflections on the Climate and the Environment with a specially invited audience of about 300 people. The talks were meant to encourage each speaker and guest to pause and reflect on their commitment to the planet through a simple question � �Why do I care?�
Further, the summit saw the launch of the �Green Faith in Action� project, a global initiative stemming from a coalition of partners with the objective of rendering pilgrimage destinations of all religious and spiritual persuasions, low-carbon cities resilient to climate disruptions.
"Why do I care?"
Dr. Nanditha Krishna
My Hindu tradition regards nature and all her aspects as divine: forests, mountains, trees, rivers & water-bodies, animals and seeds are all regarded as sacred. The earth is the Divine Mother who must be treated with respect. The five elements (pancha bhūta) – Earth, Air, Water, Fire (Energy) and Space – are the foundation of the interconnected web of life. Every prayer begins and ends with a prayer for peace in nature. Our environmental actions affect our karma, binding all creation in an eternal cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Dharma – righteousness or duty – includes our responsibility to care for the earth and her resources.
As a child, I spent a lot of time around forests where tigers, leopards, elephants and other wildlife crossed my path. Gradually, the forests were cut down, and the wildlife disappeared. Meanwhile, my lovely city Chennai, better known for its temple s and temple bells, classical music and dance, became a hotbed of air and water pollution, and garbage. All over the world, the animals and birds I love are now kept in cages and treated as production machines, and exported live in horrible conditions. Is it ethical? Is it environmentally sustainable? An insatiable greed for wealth and consumption has gripped all people, at the cost of the environment. This has led to the crisis of global warming and climate change.
I have spent over three decades writing about sacred groves, plants and animals. When we restored the sacred groves (forests), 52 of them, and water-bodies, I saw the birds and wildlife return. They too want to live well. Ahimsa or non-violence is the greatest Dharma, and it starts with simple and sustainable lifestyles.
Each one of us must make an individual commitment to live sustainably and change one’s own lifestyle. Mahatma Gandhi said “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed,” and “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” These are two excellent dicta that can save the world.
Finally, I would like to end with a Vedic prayer for peace which is always recited before and after every ritual and event.
“O Supreme Lord, May there be peace in the sky and in space. May there be peace on land and in the waters. May herbs and vegetation bring us peace. May all personifications of God bring us peace. May the Lord bring us peace. May there be peace throughout the world. May peace be peaceful. May the Lord give me such peace also Om shanti shanti shantih.”
Dr.Nanditha Krishna with M. Francois Hollande, President of the Republique Francaise, at the Palais de l’Elysee, Paris.
Dr.Nanditha Krishna gifted him her books “Sacred Plants of India” and “Sacred Animals of India”, during the Sommet des Consciences pour le Climat.