Madrid, Spain ( Europe ): The climate conference started in full swing with more than 20,000 delegates. The civil society is also present in big numbers and even Greta Thunberg has arrived in Lisbon. This COP is all about stepping up ambitions and responding to the latest scientific reports which indicate that climate change may spiral out of control. For more information and background please read this article:
For the Brahma Kumaris (BK), the first day of COP25 had the most engagements and programs.
Exhibition: 10 Ways to Change the World
The stand has been well received right from the start, with many visitors from all over the world, a mix of government representatives and civil society. The BK free, colorful wristbands with the “10 ways to change” slogans along with the BK web link seemed to be the most attractive, and helped a lot to engage participants.
Interfaith Coordination Meeting
The Interfaith community came together for its first meeting this COP. The discussion was mostly about their COP25 statement “Faith communities demand climate justice.” Reverend Henrik Grape, Senior Advisor on Care for Creation, Sustainability, and Climate Justice at the World Council of Churches, led the meeting. Valériane, BK, plays a major part in coordinating the faith communities’ presence at COP, and Sonja participated in her place. The statement can be found here. Later, it will be presented officially to high-level representatives of the UNFCCC secretariat.
Side event in the Sustainable Development Goals Pavilion
The event “Strengthening Peaceful Pathways to Sustainable Solutions” was designed to facilitate authentic communication, to implement peaceful and inclusive solutions for a more sustainable future. Thoughtful stories from the fields of science, faith, politics, spirituality and health were shared. They had the focus of peace as an instigator for change. The common theme was that when things get difficult, we tend to get anxious. This is so even when we are aware that a calm and peaceful mind takes better decisions. Pausing for peace helps us to recognize the subtext and acknowledge the stresses so that real solutions start to emerge.
In this picture of the presentation, from the left: Moderator: Julia Grindon-Welch, Brahma Kumaris Representative to UN, New York; Gabrielle Martin, Head of Programs and Events, Brahma Kumaris, Australia; Rev. Dr Neddy Astudillo, Director for Training and Latino America, GreenFaith Institute; Thomas Bruhn, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies; Dr. Nicole de Paula, CEO, Global Health Asia Institute; Klaus Töpfer, co-chairman of UN-ECOSOC; and Martin Frick, Senior Director for Policy and Programme Coordination of the UNFCCC. The event was co-hosted by BK and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies.
Official Side event at COP
The title of this event was “Inspiring Courage to Act and Adapt in a Climate Emergency. “
It was hosted by BK and other partner organisations. The presentations centred around how best to implement the Paris Agreement in solidarity and compassion. A special focus was kept on human and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The speakers explored ways to transform lives, communities and politics, and how best to foster resilience.
The speakers, from the left, were: Moderator Lindsey Fielder Cook, Quaker UN Office; Bishop Philip Huggins, National Council of Churches, Australia; Sister Jayanti Kirpalani, Director, Brahma Kumaris in Europe; Dr. Mark Lawrence, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies; Andrea Carmen, International Indian Treaty Council, Indigenous Leader; Rev Chebon Kernell, World Council of Churches; Ben Schachter, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Ana Villalobos, Delegation of Costa Rica.
The event was organised by the Quaker UN Office, the Brahma Kumaris, Franciscans International, and Quaker Earthcare Witness.
The topic of courage inspired both the panelists and audience of about 100 people. Some points that were shared by Sister Jayanti:
- It is important to have a vision for a better world, and to be instruments to make that happen. We have to see beyond the present challenges. I know we can all make a difference. In fact, even just one individual can have a huge impact. We have the example of Greta Thunberg in front of us. Let me not wait for others, but let me start with courage and hope.
- To increase courage, it is important to have faith in the self. I can achieve my aim when I use my full potential of goodness within.
- We have faith in God, and that power can make the real difference.
Side Event at the EU Pavilion
The title of the evening event at the European Union Pavilion was “Collective Adaptation to the Climate Emergency.” How can science and faith-based communities support humanity in the future climate-related disruption? The four panelists shared their insights on how best to respond with collective solidarity and commitment to the coming climate emergency.
From the left: Moderator: Sonja Ohlsson, Denmark, and speakers: Sister Jayanti Kirpalani, Director, Brahma Kumaris in Europe and the Middle East; Prof. Mark Lawrence, Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam; Bishop Philip Huggins, President, National Council of Churches, Australia; Golo J. Pilz, Energy Adviser to the Brahma Kumaris.
The panelists were asked to prepare a question for each other and the following discussion was moving, personal and in-depth. Some questions that came up:
- Has science been an obstacle or support in your personal development?
- You have a strong positive vision of the future. How to bring on board those who don’t share the same vision, or don’t have one?
- How do you deal with the insincerity in congregations?
- When we let go the old, what new would you like to “let-in”?
- Listening is healing: is there another component needed to create healing?
- What is BK’s gift to the world?www.brahmakumaris.orgwww.eco.brahmakumaris.org