Day One, 6th Khoryug Conference
6th Khoryug Conference
Day One Report
13 November 2015
Forty-five delegates gathered in the beautiful Norbulingka Institute today for the sixth Khoryug Conference. After a greeting from Gyaltsen Sonam of the Kun Kyong Charitable Trust, the conference facilitator Dekila Chungyalpa introduced the goals of the conference and agenda for the day. She explained that this conference is distinct from other conferences because rather than provide environmental and organizing training, these three days are dedicated to assessing lessons learned in the past five years and how Khoryug can improve organizationally in the next five years.
The agenda today focused on examining what has and has not worked over the last five years. Dekila gave a presentation on the progress of Khoryug as a whole, explaining how His Holiness’ commitment to the environment led to the development of environmental guidelines and later the first Khoryug conference, which evolved into the creation of Khoryug as a formal association of monasteries and nunneries. She further illustrated what an important role these institutions can play in managing the state of the environment in the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau, an area that provides the water for a quarter of the world’s population.
After Dekila’s presentation, representatives from five different regions presented on the successes in their region over the last five years. The representatives spoke about the work they have done to plant trees, revitalize habitats, farm organically, better manage waste and water and conserve electricity while seeking greener options. Representatives further discussed the obstacles they face in implementation and the difficulties they are working to overcome.
Delegates heard about the environmental efforts by Nalanda Monastery in South India, led by Karma Tulku Rinpoche, which have resulted in the revitalization of a nearby lake and wetland. Monks planted many indigenoustrees and plants in the area when they realized how the habitat around the lake had been devastated. After pursuing this project for several years, they have seen wildlife return and have noticed decreased flooding in the wetland due to reintroduced vegetation.
Similarly, monasteries in Nepal have found success in their organic farming initiatives, in which they have striven to both grow organic produce as well as offer education in their surrounding communities about organic practices. Many monasteries reported that their organic production was sufficient to provide a significant portion of monastics’ diets. The produce not only improves the nutrition of these monks and nuns, but also offers a valuable opportunity to spread awareness about health and environmental issues.
In the afternoon, monks and nuns met in regional groups to discuss what successes they had achieved in the last five years and what challenges they faced, both environmental and organizational. For many monasteries and nunneries, this was a valuable opportunity to hear about the experience of other institutions who operate in similar conditions and to share advice and strategies. The day concluded with a conference-wide debriefing session in which representatives from each region shared the outcome of their discussion, which revealed many overlapping experiences as well as distinct focuses based on regional conditions.