Sikhs add their voice in fight against Climate Change, UN Head calls a 'Moral issue'

  


World faith leaders with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon ( center) along with Prince Philip

London, November 5, 2009, : Sikh Environmental activists Baba Sewa Singh and Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal from Punjab were among 200 leaders from the world's major religious faiths including Hindus and Sikhs gathered at Windsor Castle, near London, for a three-day conference aimed at alerting the world's politicians of the need to put climate change at the top of the global agenda.

The U.N Secretary General Ban Ki Moon made a keynote speech there on 3 November, in which he will called on world leaders to take greater notice of what religious leaders have to say about climate change. The audience sitting in the Waterloo Chamber of the Windsor Castle had traveled from as far away as China , Ghana , India , Japan , Indonesia , US and Tanzania .

The world’s religions have a crucial role to play in the global fight against climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, characterizing the battle with global warming as a “moral” issue.

The gathering comes just weeks before world leaders are due to adopt plans to stop global warming at a major UN summit in Copenhagen in December.

The conference was organized by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

His message to faith leaders was that they should bring the weight of their moral authority to press politicians to work harder to ensure that a deal on climate change was reached at Copenhagen .

Acknowledging that the major religions are in a "unique" position to influence discussions on global warming,  Ban Ki Moon told delegates that they could encourage governments to "act more boldly" in protecting people and the planet . He implored that they can 'provoke, challenge and inspire political leaders'.



Baba Sewa Singh, Baba Balbir Singh, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Leon Chen, founder of suchenglobal.org

The 2-4 November conference was attended and hosted by Britain 's Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, and who is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education which drafted the EcoSikh plan and organised the Sikh participation in this conclave, said, “It is vital that we present to the world the wisdom of the Gurus to tackle this crisis facing the world.”

He introduced to the audience two Sikh ‘Eco warriors’. Baba Sewa Singh who has planted over 100,000 trees in three states in India and Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal who cleaned the 162 Km long Kali Bein, a river associated with Guru Nanak, were introduced to the audience by Dr. Singh.  All three joined one day to offer prayers during the conference seeking God’s blessings upon all world leaders.

Baba Sewa Singh said, “This challenging issue of global warming can be handled by changing individual behavior and adopting simpler living style.” Baba Seechewal told the audience that he was inspired by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism to act on environmental agenda.  He added, “We must treat earth as our mother as taught by Guru Nanak.” Both of them were well received by the attendees of the conference.

Kusum Vyas, a Hindu delegate from US, said that she is inspired by the Hindu philosophy to work on nature preservation.  Hindu plan was drafted in UK and work is underway to bring onboard and link up with Hindu temples and organizations from America and India .

Sikhs, Hindus and Jews announced collaborative action plan to work on climate change issues.

Long-term plans on the environment were announced by nine of the world's major faiths - Baha'ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hindu, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism and Sikhism.

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Goma'a, announced that Madinah, one of Islam's most important cities, is to become a model "green city"  and  measures  such as “greening the Haj,” under a Muslim seven-year action plan on the environment.



Sikhs with delegates from Japan exploring future collaborations in Punjab.

The Sikh plan urges all Sikh gurdwaras to recycle, compost, use green energy, use eco-stoves, start rainwater harvesting, purchase reusable plates and cups. The Jewish and Hindu plans call for new faith-based eco- labelling systems, for food, building materials and energy.

All religions set out plans to introduce extensive environmental education programs. With around half of the world’s schools associated with the faiths, the combined plans are targeting generational change on a global scale.

The Duke of Edinburgh, ARC founder, presented certificates to faith leaders alongside the UN Secretary-General. The UN assistant secretary-general Olav Kjorven said the timing of the Windsor gathering could not have been more fortuitous.



Baba Sewa Singh speaking at the conference. Dr. Rajwant Singh translated his comments.

During the interfaith prayer service at the Windsor Castle, Hindu dance of creation was presented by Beeja Dance company of UK and Sikh Kirtan was performed by Sehej Neet Kaur of Washington and Navleen Kaur of UK and Kamaljit Singh, a percussionist accompanied the Kirtan.



from left Dr. Rajwant Singh, Baba Sewa Singh, Baba Balbir Singh, Kusum Vyas, and other religious leaders in a procession at the Windsor Castle in London.



Dr. Rajwant Singh, Baba Balbir Singh and Baba Sewa Singh with Prince Philip and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon presenting the Sikh plan on environment.



Sikh kirtan being presented by Sehej Neet Kaur and Navleen Kaur. Percussinist Kamaljit Singh, an architect and also an owner of a music studio in London accompanying in the kirtan (left). Navleen Kaur, a teacher specializes in teaching Sikh values to youth through camps and workshops, also does work on interfaith issues and making curriculum for UK schools for teaching various religions including Sikhism. In addition she runs a Sikh radio program in London.



Sikhs presented a Phulkari to UN's Ban Ki Moon. Baba Seechewal, Dr. Rajwant Singh and Sehejneet Kaur. Phulkari is a speciality of Punjab literally means flower-embroidery – a form of craft over in a sparse and simple design covering the material entirely, it is called bagh (a garden of flowers). This particular Phulkari is made by the Delhi based Sikh owned business called '1469' which promotes environmental friendly hand made products.





Un Secretary General addressing the religious delegates at the Windsor Castle. He can seen through the two turbans of Sikh delegates.

Sikhs had introduced the EcoSikh plan in collaboration with United Nations and ARC in Delhi:

http://www.sikhcouncilusa.org/article.aspx?article=greenplan09

To get involved in the EcoSikh initiative: www.ecosikh.org

To support SCORE's initiatives to bring Sikhs in the forefront on an international stage in a positive manner:

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