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Sustainable Development

Back to listNov 3, 2010

"Seeds of Hope" Exhibition Shown at Earth Charter +10 Conference in India

101103x_india_soh_exhibit.jpg"Seeds of Hope" exhibition

SGI representatives from Japan and India joined a conference on an "Ethical Framework for a Sustainable World" in Ahmedabad, India, from November 1-3. The event, held at the headquarters of India's renowned Centre for Environmental Education (CEE), attracted 500 participants from around India and the world to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Earth Charter.

The exhibition "Seeds of Hope: Visions of sustainability, steps toward change," produced by SGI in cooperation with the Earth Charter International, was on display throughout the conference. The exhibition, which consists of 24 panels, stresses the interconnectedness of all beings with their environment and the power of one person to make a difference. The theme chosen for "Earth Charter +10" is "It Starts with One," a message which resonates closely with the philosophy of SGI. Local members of Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) volunteered as guides to show visitors around the exhibition.

101101x_india_conference.jpgWorkshop on "The Earth Charter and Religion, Spirituality and Ethics

Most of the conference, which was cosponsored by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, UNESCO, UNEP and UNDP, was held at CEE's green campus. Plenaries were held in a marquee outside and some of the thematic workshops took place under the shade of trees. The site was wasteland when CEE first occupied it, but over a period of 30 years it has regenerated and is now home to 58 different species of birds.

Workshops focused on topics related to education, communication, cities and urbanization; business and corporate social responsibility; and biodiversity and ethics. In the workshop on religion, spirituality and ethics, SGI representative Joan Anderson spoke about SGI President Ikeda's unwavering endorsement of the Earth Charter and the way the document has inspired SGI members around the world to take action toward sustainability. She also pointed out that SGI's previous exhibition on sustainability, "Seeds of Change," has been seen by 1.5 million people in 27 countries around the world, 250,000 of them in India.

101103x_india_opening_sasrabhai.jpgMr. Kartikeya Sarabhai

The conference featured plenary sessions on climate change, education for sustainable development, and future visions, with speakers including former Dutch Prime Minister and Earth Charter Commissioner Ruud Lubbers; Kartikeya Sarabhai, Director of CEE; Steven Rockefeller, Cochair, Earth Charter Council; A. Prasuraman, Director of UNESCO for South Asia, and H.E. Dr. Shrimati Kamlaji, Governor of Gujarat. During a session on Education for Sustainable Development, a special issue of the Journal of Education for Sustainable Development to commemorate 10 years of the Earth Charter was launched. This contains a paper by SGI's Representative at the UN in New York, Hiro Sakurai.

101103x_india_soh_exhibit(2).jpg

Evening programs included cultural performances by Manuel Obregon, Minister of Culture and Youth of Costa Rica, as well as by Mallika Sarabhai and her company Darpana.

The morning session on November 3, on "Threads of Sustainability," was held at the Sabarmati Ashram where Gandhi lived for many years, and from where he led the Dandi Salt March. The ceremony there featured speeches by Earth Charter Commissioners Professor Mary Evelyn Tucker and Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, and representatives of different faiths. It also included a ceremony where elders passed on their wisdom to youth and youth expressed their hopes for the future.

At the ashram, a new book on "Earth Charter and Gandhi" was launched, linking quotes from Mahatma Gandhi to the 16 principles of the Earth Charter.

Conference participants stressed the need for continued efforts to raise awareness of the Earth Charter, to use it to the full during the ongoing UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, and to ensure recognition of the Earth Charter as an ethical framework for sustainable development at the Rio Plus 20 meeting to be held in 2012.

[Adapted from a report from the SGI Office of Public Information, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of SGI Office of Public Information]