9th Annual Environmental Conference held at Rumtek Monastery

Gangtok, 02 Apr:

Khoryug, an association of over 50 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries spread across the Himalayan region and South India to carry out environmental protection activities, hosted the 9th Annual Environmental Conference for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries at Rumtek Monastery [Dharmachakra Centre] in Gangtok today.

A press release informs that Khoryug was established by the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje in 2009 and is a non-sectarian community of eco-monasteries and nunneries leading projects ranging from environmental education, reforestation, river clean-up, spring-shed restoration, wildlife protection, and climate change adaptation.

The four-day conference being held at Rumtek is sponsored by the Kun Kyong Charitable Trust and has attendees from India, Nepal and Bhutan. The conference gives the monks and nuns the opportunity to learn more about building climate change resilience, to report back on their ongoing projects and to discuss and share lessons learned from their previous experiences.

The topic of the conference is “Climate Resiliency for Ourselves and Our Communities” and the workshop includes training from partners such as ATREE, ECOSS, WWF, UNDP and the Science and Technology Department of the Government of Sikkim.

The 17th Karmapa, sharing his thoughts via video with 90 monastic representatives from 34 monasteries and nunneries, said, “I am aware of how hard you have been working on environmental protection for the last nine years and very pleased with the success you have all achieved. Due to the importance of Tibet and the Himalayas as a source of water for billions of people downstream, I appeal to you all to also take up the responsibility of addressing climate change. We should see our actions of preserving nature and protecting the environment not only as ways of minimizing climate change impacts but also as part of our Buddhist practice because everything we do will benefit other sentient beings.”

Stating that climate change can seem very overwhelming on a personal level, the Karmapa who is a committed environmentalist and vegetarian, said, “We see our response to climate change as a spiritual one and link it to the development of our inner self. Ultimately, science and technology cannot bring about the needed change in people’s attitude and behavior. We need to combine dharma and science to do so successfully and I pray that Khoryug’s collective activity helps pave such a way forward.”