Stockholm +50, UN Conference celebrates 50 years of global environmental action

Stockholm, Sweden ( Europe ): Stockholm + 50 conference commemorates the first United Nations Conference in 1972 on the Human Environment and celebrates 50 years of global environmental action. By recognizing the importance of collaboration in tackling the Earth’s triple planetary crisis – climate, nature, and pollution – the international meeting aimed to drive action toward a healthy planet for the prosperity of all.

The Brahma Kumaris Environment team has been part of UNEP’s “Faith for Earth” preparation group to ensure that the faith voice will be heard at the conference. The BK’s have sent a delegation of 4 people to the summit and hosted three associated events with partners.

Brahma Kumaris delegation at Stockholm +50: Lotta Arbman, Sweden; Sonja Ohlsson, Denmark; Susanne Myrehed Sweden, Golo Pilz Germany / India.

Peoples Forum: Prior to the conference, the civil society met in the People’s Forum. The two-day Forum discussed the crises of defunct development models, climate change and global injustice. Moa Eriksson and Susanne from the Stockholm centre participated in the Forum. The faith voices were heard in an event called Faith Actors and Policy Making – How and why should we include faith voices within climatepolicy?

Dr Lorna Gold from Faith Invest underlined that people of faith are stakeholders for change. She said that we must recognise the roots of our values on a personal level to bring the needed change. Meryne Warah, Global Director of Organising at Green Faith, emphasised that faith communities must intensify their cooperation to bring climate justice and be bold in their actions. Johannes Widlund, thematic advisor at Pentecostal Church, talked about the importance of bringing together the old wisdom from faiths with young people’s determination, passion and clarity of vision. Lastly, Ulrich Nitschke, PIRO Governance Expert, spoke about the three qualities of humility, accountability and collaboration that faith organisations can offer.

Side event: Healthy Mind, Healthy Planet – Strengthening values and authenticity in sustainable development. An associated event hosted by Brahma Kumaris and LM international took place in the BK Stockholm centre. Sonja moderated the panel, starting with Golo addressing the inner aspects of sustainable development. Tagele Mathewos, country director of The Yeriwhot Berhan Church of Ethiopia, continued by sharing how to engage the church leaders in the ecological movement. Dr Lorna Gold, Director of Movement Building, FaithInvest, discussed the need for a paradigm shift on the organisation and economic level.

The dialogue centred around the need to be peaceful and loving on the inside. Golo explained that the expression of inner harmony for him was to introduce renewable energy to the Brahma Kumaris in the mid-’90s. India One features storage but is rather complex; for the public and local communities, solar cookers and solar lanterns are more suitable. Tagele is working on the grassroots level bringing people together and raising awareness in the community. Dr Leona started by reminding us of Pope Fransiscus’s statements, The Laudatio Si, about the environment. Investments and faith have driven apart, and Faith communities must reinvest massively in a sustainable future. A lively discussion continued over dinner, which was prepared with love by the centre.

Rain was pouring down at the opening of the UNEP conference “Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity” at the largest fairground in Stockholm.

In the presence of the Swedish king Carl XVI Gustaf and crown princess Victoria, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the conference. He thanked the dancers for their performance, describing human energy as renewable energy. The Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson stated very clearly that we had talked the talk, and now we need to walk the walk. We must work together with trust to shape our common future.

Golo, Susanne, Lotta and Sonja attended the events on the first day of the conference.

Second day was the side event in association with the UN conference at the BK center in Stockholm : How can a shift in mindset contribute to a sustainable planet? This side event was organised together with “Inner Development Goals”. Sonja interviewed Michael Wernstedt and Golo about their vision for future developments. They shared personal stories on the inner capacity needed to deal with our increasingly complex environmental challenges.

Lotta representing both Brahma Kumaris Sweden and Spirit of Humanity Forum, concluded the evening with a beautiful meditation, embracing the inner and outer environment

Faith plans: Turning commitment into action. This program on 2 June in the SIDA office was held by Faith Invest, FaithPlans and Läkarmissionen and attended by Moa. As almost all of the participants felt low in energy due to unusual cold and heavy rainfalls, Trish from FaithPlan led the group into a calming tai chi exercise. Then followed an introduction to the Faith plan and its broad and rich framework. Faith plan supports communities in developing long term faith plans around assets, education etc.

Stockholm+50 concluded in the Swedish capital on 3rd June. Some 3,000 participants descended on Stockholmsmassan from 2 to 3 June to take part in the Leadership Dialogues, plenary sessions, Action Hub and side events. Many more joined the associated events held in Stockholm and around the world.

Co-hosts Sweden and Kenya presented 10 key recommendations drawn from the meeting sessions. All outcomes, including the Report of the International Meeting, will be published on the website soon.

Faith Plans Renewing People and Planet: The last program for the BK delegation was an interfaith celebration hosted by FaithPlans, Brahma Kumaris and The Focolare. The networking event took place in the Catholic Cathedral Community Hall in the middle of town. Catherine Devit from Faithplan welcomed the participants to a delicious vegan dinner. Gopal Patel from Bhumi moderated the panel and asked the participants to share their inner motivation, which helps them deal with the environment in a crisis. Dr Lorna Gold from FaithInvest shared that she had to discover her faith wisdom in dealing with a crisis to lead her community. Golo reassured the audience about a future world in harmony and the great chance that we all can connect to the divine. Lidia Fioravanti from Focolare presented People, Planet and the Ecological Conversion as the focus of care for 2021- 22.

Before leaving for Oslo, Golo and Sonja shared with the morning class their insights and experiences from the conference. Sonja thanked everybody for their help and cooperation. Golo shared news from Madhuban and India. He also spoke about the various signals of time and the unique role everyone will play in creating a new world. Stockholm family expressed their special thanks to Sonja and Golo for their visit and input.

The BK’s in Stockholm and Oslo organized the outdoor meditation on 5th June dedicated to World Meditation Day.


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