Minister Jairam Ramesh Inaugurates Karmapa's environmental conference (Phayul)

Phayul[Saturday, November 09, 2013 12:14]

New Delhi, November 8: Shri Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for Rural Development and former Union Minister for Environment and Forests, inaugurated the 5th Khoryug Conference on Environmental Protection for Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and Nunneries at the India International Centre today. 

Chaired by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the five-day conference aims to educate Buddhist monks and nuns to take a leading role in their local communities in conserving freshwater resources across the Himalayas. With many glaciers retreating across the Tibetan plateau, the future of freshwater on the planet’s third pole will have great impact on water security across the Himalayan region and Indian subcontinent.

Jairam Ramesh, union minister for rural development,
at the opening ceremony of the conference

Under the auspices of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Khoryug is a network of over 50 Buddhist monasteries and centers working together on environmental protection of the Himalayan region, with the aim of practically applying the values of compassion and interdependence towards the Earth and all living beings that dwell in the region. In association with WWF Sacred Earth, which provides technical expertise and support, Khoryugpartners with local organizations to inspire and educate local communities to protect all forms of life on Earth now and for the future. 

In his inaugural address, Shri Jairam Ramesh commended the regional approach taken byKhoryug, noting that glacial areas and waterways cross national boundaries and thus an international approach is necessary to protects them. “You are poised to play a very important role in disseminating the knowledge of the environmental threats,” he told the assembled monks and nuns. 

Ramesh remarked that Buddhist teachings themselves are an important source of inspiration for environmental activism in India. “Much of the veneration that Indians have for nature comes from our long and glorious Buddhist heritage. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that both Buddhism and even Jainism have contributed to our consciousness on preservation of nature, respect for biodiversity, respect for conservation and respect for life in all its forms.” He lauded the Khoryug Guidelines as offering a blueprint for how monasteries can actually become demonstrated life examples of sustainable development.

Shri Jairam Ramesh’s opening discourse was followed by reports from Tenzin Norbu, Director of the Environment and Development Desk within the Central Tibetan Administration, and Dipankar Ghose, director at WWF-India and Dr. Suresh Rohilla, head of the sustainable water management area at the Centre of Science and Environment. The 17th Karmapa later addressed the gathering and will chair the conference through the next few days. 

The young head of the Kagyu tradition of the Tibetan Buddhism said, “I am delighted to be able to hold this conference, especially since I think that everyone who participates should be left with a very clear understanding not only of the tremendous importance of the environment but also of the environmental emergency in which we find ourselves. I hope that over these fives days of lengthy and frank discussions, we will all leave with a better idea of the best practices we can all follow to contribute to the conservation of our water resources — as individuals in our day-to-day life, as monasteries and as a human community.”

The conference is facilitated by WWF Sacred Earth, which has advised and coordinatedKhoryug activities in the last few years. Dekila Chungyalpa, program director of WWF Sacred Earth, said, “Today, more than 50 senior Buddhist monks and nuns from across the Himalayas have come together to determine how they can protect freshwater resources in their regions. It is voices like theirs that we most need to make freshwater conservation a universal issue.”


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