Sustainable Development

Back to listDec 10, 2011

"Seeds of Hope" Exhibition Shown at COP17

In Durban CityIn Durban City

From November 26 to December 10, SGI-South Africa (SGI-SA) organized a showing of the "Seeds of Hope: Visions of sustainability, steps toward change" environmental exhibition in the city of Durban. During this period, Durban hosted the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), with some 20,000 civil society activists and government negotiators from around the world descending on the city over three weeks of the conference.

The exhibition, which was created by SGI and the Earth Charter International, was held in the main hall of the Diakonia Centre, a faith-based NGO office and conference facility. The hall was the venue for many of the key COP meetings held at the center. Many of those who viewed the exhibition commented on the exhibition's message--the power of each individual to effect positive change in the environment.

There were also daily screenings of the SGI-produced documentary film A Quiet Revolution, which was enthusiastically received and features individuals who have contributed to solving local environmental problems. 

At the multi-faith rally in Durban's King's Park StadiumAt the multi-faith rally in Durban's King's Park Stadium

David Le Page, an SGI-SA member and representative of the South African Faith Communities' Environment Institute, one of the main organizing bodies for the faith-based initiatives at COP, gave a public lecture at the Diakonia Centre on Buddhism and economics. In the lecture, he highlighted the need for a change in prevailing values.

On November 27, the day before COP was officially opened, a large public multi-faith rally was held at Durban's King's Park Stadium. At the rally, faith leaders appealed to the COP negotiating parties to reach a just agreement that would safeguard the future of the Earth and its people. SGI-SA General Director Loren Braithwaite-Kabosha spoke on behalf of the broader Buddhist community.

During the rally, some 180 youth representatives from around Africa who had traveled to Durban from Nairobi, Kenya, in the Trans African Caravan of Hope to raise awareness of climate change, handed a petition of 200,000 signatures to the COP17 president. The petition called on leaders to commit to tougher action against climate change. Susy Wandera, an SGI-Kenya YWD member, was part of the organizing committee of the caravan. 

Desmond Tutu and Loren Braithwaite-KaboshaDesmond Tutu (left) and Loren Braithwaite-Kabosha

Among those attending the rally were Christiana Figueres, chair of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the COP17 president; Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu; and Mary Robinson former Irish president and climate change campaigner.

On that same weekend, SGI youth participated in a global Conference of Youth held at the University of Kwazulu-Natal. The youth conference, which  for the past seven years has been held prior to the COP, sees young activists coming together to strategize and network as well as educate, inform and inspire one another. The SGI youth also displayed some of the Seeds of Hope panels at the youth conference. The strong and energetic youth presence at COP injected hope and urgency into the proceedings, underlying SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's conviction that it is the power and passion of youth that will shape the 21st century.

[Adapted from a report from SGI-South Africa (SGI-SA); photos courtesy of SGI-SA]