October 31, 2009
Punjab Newsline Network
NEW YORK: Sikh environmental activists Baba Sewa Singh and Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal will be part of what has been called “the biggest civil society movement on climate change in history”… Leaders from nine of the world’s major faiths – Baha’ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism and Sikhism – will gather in Windsor Castle from November 2-4, 2009, to commit to long-term practical action to save the environment.
They will announce a huge range of practical initiatives, from new faith-based eco-labelling standards for Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism to the planting of 8.5 million trees in Tanzania; from sourcing sustainable fuel for India’s Sikh gurdwaras (which feed 30 million people every day) to the greening of religious buildings and introducing eco tourism policies for pilgrimages – still the world’s biggest travel events.
So significant is this move that UN Secretary-General, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon will make a keynote address at the Celebration, which will be hosted by HRH The Prince Philip, founder of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation. This gathering of nearly 200 faith and secular leaders comes a month before the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December and is:
The first major, internationally-coordinated commitment by the religions to the environment and aims to shape the behaviour and attitudes of the faithful for generations to come.
Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and major secular bodies, including the World Bank, Conservation International, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Fairtrade, WWF, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Soil Association. They will be at the Celebration to commit to working with the faiths on the environment.
Called a Celebration because despite the gloom surrounding the environmental challenge ahead, these initiatives show that there is much to hope for and be positive about.
THE WINDSOR CELEBRATION
The Celebration has been organised by the UK-based international body, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in conjunction with the UNDP. UN Assistant Secretary-General Olav Kjørven has described it as: “the biggest civil society movement on climate change in history”, and: “the biggest mobilisation of people and communities that we have ever seen on this issue”.
The religious leaders coming to the Celebration are the decision-makers and implementers in the faiths, rather than simply the speech makers and figureheads; this is about practical action to be implemented now.
They include: leading Saudi Arabian scholar Dr Solman Al-Ouda; Rev Canon Sally Bingham, president of Interfaith Power and Light Campaign in the US; Rt Rev and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London; Sheikh Ali Goma’a, Grand Mufti of Egypt; Rev Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of the US’s Green Faith; Archbishop Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate; Master Huang Xinyang, Vice President of the China Daoist Association; Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; His Eminence Seraphim Kykkotis, Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa; Rabbi Michael Melchior, leader of the new Green Movement-Meimad party in the Israeli Knesset; Archbishop Valentine Mokiwa, President of the All Africa Conference of Churches; Rt Rev Nyansako-ni-Nku, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon; Shaunika Risi Das, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies; Rt Rev Thomas Samuel, Bishop of Madhya Kerala, Church of South India; Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi; Rabbi Yedidya Sinclair, co-founder of the Jewish Climate Change Initiative in Israel; Dr Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Inter Sikh Council on Religion and Education; two Sikh environmentalists Baba Sewa Singh of Khadoor Sahib and Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal from Sultanpur, Punjab, Venerable Hiek Sopheap, Executive Director of the Cambodia-based Association of Buddhists for the Environment; Bishop Walter Thomas of the US-based New Psalmist Baptist Church; and Abbot Yang Shihua of Maoshan Daoist Temple, China.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, EcoSikh convener and Chairman of SCORE, said, "this is a great opportunity for Sikhs to demonstrate to the world that we feel deeply for the future of Mother Earth and that is the continuation of the compassionate stand taken by our founder, Guru Nanak."
SCORE has arranged the Sikh delegation to attend this summit with UN leaders. It has also organized the Kirtan performance on November 3, 2009 at Windsor celebration in which Navleen Kaur from London and Sehejneet Kaur from Washington will participate. They will be accompanied by Tanpura, Tabla, and Harmonium players.