Every year parties of the UNFCCC meet to dialogue on several protocols regarding climate change and carbon reduction. This year, a new noesis of climate action was unveiled by the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) in Marrakech, Morocco. Termed as the “Inner Dimensions of Climate Change,” the concept sees purity from the heart as the means to harmonize humanity with Mother Earth. Other aspects of the inner dimension of climate change included preservation of indigenous knowledge and also the role of spirituality in solving the climate crisis.
GPIW with Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA) gathered young professionals and practitioners of ecology in Africa together with global spiritual leaders, renowned scientists, and climate activists to dialogue on the inner relations of people (including societies, religion, believes, etc.) and how this is essential in fighting the big war humans have spurred with nature.
The five day dialogue in Marrakech commenced with a deep interaction between individuals at the retreat and their inner connection with nature. Senior mentors and spiritual leaders shared their inner recognition and relationship with nature (plants, animals, the sun, the moon, water, etc). This brought to light how spirituality places high value in other living things such as plants and animals. Through the stories of the mentors and some youth participants, it was clearly realized that inner connection with natural artefacts and materials influence one’s ability to adopt a greener lifestyle.
Following that, Tiokasin Ghothorse, an indigenous and spiritual leader revealed the strength of languages as a medium through which living beings have been regarded as objects. In order for the world’s population to see the importance and the need to preserve nature, we must first understand the component of our planet. In many of his speeches, he reiterated how we have condemned the life in water, seeds, and even the food we eat via calling these “living beings” as object. In their native language, water is referred to as (paraphrased) ‘that which connects life through all life forms’ – this brings consciousness and life rather than being called water (an object). As an indigenous Sundancer from the Lakota Nation of South Dakota, he mentioned how their native language has no words like property, and dominion. These words triggers the human conscience to take dominion of nature rather than being stewards of nature.
Additionally, Rev. Richard Cizik (Evangelist, Speaker, Writer, and Climate Activist – USA) continued to mention how Christians have failed to be caretakers of the Earth as illustrated in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Dr. Aliaa Rafea (Professor, Ain Shams University – Egypt) also spoke from the Islamic perspective and stated how the Qur’an teaches human to appreciate and be compassionate to all creatures. Dr. Fassil Gebeyehu (African Biodiversity Network – Kenya) mentioned how science has taught us the two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen produces water. In reality, if all natural water bodies should cease to exist, can we produce water by adding hydrogens and oxygen?
Sraddhalu Ranade (scientist and educator – India) spoke more of the impact of modern science on today’s generation. He spoke about how the life in plants is being lost through genetic modification of seeds. The nutrient value of food (which is the life of the food) is now lost and many conscious people keep reading labels from one shop to the other in the quest to get natural foods. Humans have migrated from being part of the food web to becoming controllers of the food web. He shared a practice of his native people, where children are taught to thank and apologize to Mother Earth before placing their feet on the floor when the wake up every morning. These indigenous knowledge and practices shaped the thoughts of young ones to see the life in Mother Earth.
From the youth perspective, Joshua Amponsem (Climate Advocate – Ghana) mentioned that many African communities have so much embraced television, western education and culture, and totally neglected our traditional learning habits (By the fire side: where children sit round the fire at night and listen to stories of wisdom from their grandfathers and the aged in society). He furthered to talk about education, value, and purpose of the African indigenous knowledge.
On 14th November, Dena Merriam (Founder, The Global Peace Initiative of Women – USA) led GPIW for a side event at the Loukkos Room at the GREEN ZONE of COP 22. At the side event, Venerable Bhante (founder of the Uganda Buddhist Center) talked about how humanity is filled with greed and hatred for one another. Nations now seek to isolate themselves from the rest of the world and there is no unity now. He mentioned that in order to reduce global carbon emissions, the world needs to address its Greed Emissions, Hatred Emissions, and Ignorance Emissions. Also, Venerable Chang Ji (Spiritual Environmentalist, DDMBA) mentioned that it is about time humanity shift from ‘more’ to ‘better’. She explained how humanity has now defined living as getting more of everything – more property, more clothes, more cars, etc. However, to preserve Mother Earth, we should consider making better products and stop infuriating Mother Earth with excessive exploitation. Earth is a source of life not a resource for exploitation.
As climate change rises to be the only science which involves so many politicians, it has become essential for both scientists, politicians, and activists to provide solutions to one of the greatest threat of our planet. Following the Paris Agreement last year, this year’s Conference of Parties was set to be a platform for countries to commit to their intended national determined contributions and also provide a roadmap viable to assist them to achieve their intended contributions towards carbon reduction. GPIW is committed to raise awareness on the inner dimensions of climate change in all continents on the globe and during every Conference of Parties.