Hindu leaders have launched an action plan for long-term environmental change following a meeting with His Royal Highness The Prince Philip and His Excellency Ban-ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Bhumi Project (Sanskrit for ‘Mother Earth’) was launched as part of this week’s Many Heavens, One Earth summit at Windsor Castle, attended by over 200 faith leaders from nine major world religions. The meeting was called by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), a secular body founded by HRH The Prince Philip in 1995 to help world religions develop their own environmental programmes.
Over the next nine years, The Bhumi Project will implement a series of initiatives to help Hindus engage in environmental action to better care for the planet. Specific proposals include educating members of their own communities on best environmental practice; developing a Hindu labeling scheme for a range of products and services; helping all Hindu places of worship employ the highest standards of environmental practice; and partnering with conservation projects in India, such as those involved in cleaning the River Ganges.
A number of UK Hindu organisations have worked with ARC on the Bhumi Project, one reason why it will focus first on working with British Hindu communities. Partnerships will then be developed in America and eventually introduced to India, one of the three key countries that have the power to decide the environmental future of the world.
Shaunaka Rishi Das, the Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies was one of those who helped formulate the Project. “Hindu tradition and history is replete with stories and references to Bhumi, to Mother Earth,” he said, “and we want to help Hindus re-learn these sacred teachings and find new relevance for them in the modern world. “
One of the Hindu delegates at the Windsor Castle faith leaders’ summit was Neal Raithatha of the UK National Hindu Students Forum. He commented: -
“Because there are 900 million Hindus worldwide, the environmental choices we make will have a significant impact on our climate. We must work in India in particular to ensure increasing urbanization and affluence does not put undue strain on the country’s natural beauty and cultural heritage sites. We must make sure environmental destruction is not the price we pay for India’s economic growth.”