Buddhist group calls for strengthening youth leadership and education
From November 1 to 7, the first week of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, the SGI (Soka Gakkai International), SGI-UK and the Centre for Applied Buddhism (CfAB) provided a platform for dialogues among key stakeholders from faith leaders to youth activists under the theme “Sowing Seeds of Hope – Action for Climate Justice.” Watch a short video of diverse voices from the week’s events.
“We are not voiceless, but we are unheard,” stated Shreya KC of Nepalese Youth for Climate Action, at a November 3 event at Websters Theatre in Glasgow titled “Beyond Rhetoric – Youth Leadership for Climate Action” that saw youth leaders from the Global South from countries including Nigeria and Pakistan passionately articulate their visions for climate justice.
At a November 4 panel titled “Global Justice – Climate Justice,” Shanon Shah, director of Faith for the Climate, clarified that the climate crisis is a social and political issue because the most vulnerable, who have done least to cause the climate emergency, are suffering the most.
Several events highlighted the power of human stories to make people care. Netherlands-based indigenous activist Raki Ap stated “story change can create system change.”
On November 1, the exhibition “Seeds of Hope & Action,” created by the SGI in collaboration with the Earth Charter International, was launched at Websters, bringing a message of hope and empowerment to tackle the despair caused by the climate crisis. Elizabeth Wathuti, Founder of the Green Generation Initiative of Kenya and Global South Co-chair of the COP26 Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council, spoke at the launch. Watch full recordings of all the events.
Soka Gakkai organizations around the world have been active in the lead-up to COP26. SGI-UK and the Centre for Applied Buddhism held a year-long series of monthly webinars sharing Buddhist perspectives from individual SGI-UK members and other climate activists. Groups in India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore have also initiated grassroots awareness-raising programs on the climate crisis.
On the first day of the conference, October 31, the SGI announced a statement at a press conference at COP26, calling for genuine global solidarity of action to address the climate emergency. It states: “As well as accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gases, it is crucial that the outcomes of COP26 leave no one behind, strengthen education, give increased leadership opportunities to young people and empower us all to sow seeds of hope and action.”
The Soka Gakkai is a global community-based Buddhist organization promoting peace, culture and education with 12 million members around the world. The SGI is an NGO in consultative status with the UN ECOSOC since 1983. The Centre for Applied Buddhism (CfAB) is a UK-based hub of research, dialogue and study.
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