Community Initiatives

What kind of grassroots activities is SGI involved in?

SGI members are active in contributing to their local communities and see the ultimate aim of Buddhism and the SGI as the creation of a just, sustainable and peaceful world. SGI groups all over the world undertake projects suitable to the local situation and culture. This could be through cleaning a local park, holding a discussion on women's role in building peace, or showing an awareness-raising exhibition in a library. SGI focuses its education efforts on the themes of peace and disarmament, sustainable development and human rights. SGI's social engagement can also be seen in the day-to-day activities of individual SGI members who are contributing to the betterment of their communities, families and workplaces.

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What is SGI's relationship with the United Nations?

SGI believes that the United Nations, for all its flaws, is a vital organ for international cooperation which enables issues to be tackled on a global level. To help amplify the message of the UN, SGI has initiated public education programs in support of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World and the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. As a nongovernmental organization (NGO) with formal ties to the United Nations, Soka Gakkai in Japan has been associated with the UN Department of Public Information and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) NGO Liaison Unit since 1981. SGI has been in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council since 1983. SGI UN liaison offices located in New York, Geneva and Vienna actively support UN processes and cooperate with other NGOs to promote disarmament, human rights education and interfaith collaboration.

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Why does SGI stress individual empowerment?

Buddhism emphasizes the possibility of inner transformation--a process of bringing forth our full human potential. Nichiren Buddhism teaches that it is only by squarely facing the challenges that confront us amidst the harsh contradictions of society that we can change our own lives and the world for the better. While the role of institutions or governments is important, change that starts within each person's life is seen as the surest way to tackle the problems facing the world in the 21st century. Many people feel hopeless about these issues, but SGI stresses that people have the power to change their circumstances, and its public education and outreach projects aim to inspire people and equip them with information that they can use to make a difference in their communities.

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How does SGI cooperate with other religious groups?

SGI organizations around the world, from Singapore to Australia and Spain, are engaged in interfaith dialogue and cooperation, believing that it is important for faith groups to find common ground and work together to resolve the complex issues facing humanity. SGI members regularly participate in the Parliament of the World's Religions and other interfaith forums. SGI's representative to the UN in New York served as president of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN from 2004 to 2007.

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Does SGI engage in political lobbying?

As an NGO, SGI is engaged in concrete constructive efforts to promote nuclear abolition, human rights education and education for sustainable development, in cooperation with other NGOs and UN agencies. For unique historical reasons, the Soka Gakkai in Japan is the main endorsing body for the New Komeito Party, which has a platform of policies aimed at peace, environmental protection and support for the vulnerable. For more information on the nature of the relationship between New Komeito and Soka Gakkai see SGI organizations outside Japan do not engage in political activities.

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