Opening Remarks ‘Climate Change, Sustainability and Resilience’ Asian Civil Society Conference on Climate Change andEcology April 24-May 2. 2015, Seoul, South Korea By Dr. Nigel Crawhall(IUCN CEESP, INEB Executive Committee) In 2010, I journeyed to Chiang Mai for the 20th anniversary of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB). I had found INEB on the internet – proof that technology is as good as the intentions we have to use it wisely. I asked if I could run a workshop on climate change. They welcomed me. In that first working group I heard powerful stories. Burmese survivors of cyclone Nargiss talked about the terror and vulnerability of that awesome storm. Himalayan delegates told of the melting glaciers and landslides. Vietnamese monks spoke of poor communities struggling with salt rising up in their rice paddies. People spoke of droughts, food insecurity, deforestation, vulnerability. In one small session you could hear the whole story of the human impact I think I knew it would all work when I had a friendly conversation with the Hindu priest of the Ganesha cult who was working on forest conservation and the revitalising of the sacred traditions of forest stewardship in north Sri Lanka. He listened to me talk about the science of climate change and the moral challenges. He thought a bit and said that in his understanding, the challenge was with our human desires. Our fire chakra, the manipura chakra, was completely pulling us around in life these days. Pointing to his midriff, he explained that when we desire external things too much, we feed the fire chakra. The more we consume, the hotter we burn. As the inside burns, so we heat the outside world, eventually incinerating ourselves and the planet about us. Global warming, for the priest, arises in our desires and our inability to find a balance in life. Consumption as an ever accelerating process cannot lead to either sustainability or to peace. The fire chakra, in my understanding, is a place of human creativity. It is that place where our human capacity has the potential for transformation and impact. Applied wisely, our fire element gives us courage, makes us more creative, heats the heart centre and draws us closer to union with the divine and sacred nature of the universe. In this conference, we are going to be exploring the relationship between the internal world and its outer manifestation. We will consider our desires, our consciousness, our ability to be creative while held in a framework of compassion and wholesome intentions. Will we use our human potential to protect, honour and nourish the world, or to burn ourselves up through spiraling desires fed by a commodity-driven economy? We trust that you will find the conference rewarding and inspiring. Evidently, it asks us to face some of the uglier aspects of human nature, it also invites us to return to the deepest truths of our scriptures and to find within our darkness and confusion a profound truth about what humans are capable of doing when we start from a point of mindfulness, gratitude, compassion and respect for life. Whatever change we want to see, it will arise in our hearts and minds and bring us closer to one another. Whether in Latin or Pali, Sanskrit or Arabic, Korean or Thai - our ancestors have passed on to us the wealth of their understanding. It is our particular generation which is sitting at the crossroads, deciding the fate of millions of people and tens of thousands of other species. From my own tradition, we have been taught that there is suffering which leads to more suffering, or suffering which becomes the foundation for ultimate liberation. Let us use this occasion to do our best.
Bangladesh Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development Mahachula University, Thailand Atish Dipankar Society (ADS) Bhutan School Education Division, Royal Education Council Cambodia NGOs Forum on Cambodia Khmer Youth and Social Development American Friends Service Committee China/Hong Kong Our Voices France Brahma Kumaris Hungary-Austria Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability India UNDP / ICCBRM FHSM/VIHARA Indonesia Solidaritas Perempuan / Aksi! CDCC & Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta Gusdurian Japan Niwano Peace Foundation JNEB Kenya We Have Faith Laos Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Malaysia Senior Research Officer, Centre for the Study of Shari'ah, Law and Politics, IKIM Myanmar Gai Ha Hi Ta Simplicity Circle (Consumer Education Network) Kalyana Mitta Development Foundation Ju Foundation Dawei Development Association Alternative Education for Social Engagement Philippine Global Ecovillage Network Oceania and Asia Fast for Climate Justice Senegal President, GEN Africa South Africa The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee South Korea Buddhist Ecological Contents Institute Citizen's Institute for Environmental Studies Green Asia Network Green Earth Korea Brahma Kumaris Association Korean Buddhists’ Foundation for Social-Welfare & Volunteering Korean Catholic Solidarity for Creation Integrity Korea Christian Environmental Movement Solidarity for integrity of Creation (KCEMS) Korea Federation for Environmental Movement Nonamegi Peace Village Network Wonbulgyo Eco Network Sri Lanka Sevalanka Foundation Eco friendly Volunteer Taiwan Tzu Chi Thailand International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) IUCN-Thailand CGIAR research program on Water, Land and ecosystem-Greater Mekong Mab Auang Centre BioThai Foundation Spirit in Education Movement Dhamma Drop Foundation Tibet DiversEarth UK European Buddhist Union USA Oxfoard University