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UK Hindus plan for major environmental action - including a Hindu eco labelling scheme

July 31, 2009:

The Hindu Nine Year Plan ideas have the potential to reach every Hindu living in the UK - and a strong potential outreach to Hindu communities in India

Oxford, UK: National Hindu leaders have pledged to work together to create long-term plans for environmental protection, action and education which have the potential to reach every Hindu living in the UK - and with a potential outreach to Hindu communities around the world and specially in India.

Ideas include: introducing a Hindu benchmark for a range of products and services including energy; endorsing ethically sourced food; advocating sustainable lifestyles. These plans will be developed and implemented over the next 9 years - a timeframe chosen to encourage long-term planning - and are part of the ARC/UNDP Seven Year Plan initiative.

There are some 750,000 Hindus in the UK; of the 1000 richest people in the UK, some 4 percent percent are Hindu (with a Hindu-run company at the top of the list); most Hindu temples and organisations in the UK have strong networks with India; many have outreach to India's key media organisations.

The UK Hindu leaders met July 16th in Oxford as part of an international initiative led by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS) and backed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). ARC is helping religious organisations and leaders from 11 world faiths to develop long-term plans for environmental protection, according to their own beliefs.

There are some 750,000 Hindus in the UK; of the 1000 richest people in the UK, some 4 percent percent are Hindu (with a Hindu-run company at the top of the list); most Hindu temples and organisations in the UK have strong networks with India; many have outreach to India's key media organisations.
Ranchor Prime, author of Hinduism and Ecology, said: “Food has always been at the heart of the Hindu way of life. Now with food, and especially the environmental cost of meat, right at the top of the global climate change agenda, Hindus feel they have something to say. One of their key concerns is to change public perceptions of the cow as simply a source of food.”

Facilitated by the OCHS, the meeting had more than 20 representatives from various Hindu temples and organisations in the UK, coming together with the support of ARC and the UN. This was the first time in history that UK Hindu leaders had come together to address issues concerning the environment on a common platform.

The participants unanimously agreed to the initiative. They also pledged to work closely together, sharing knowledge and resources. This work will be done under the banner of “Bhumi: Protecting the living planet - Hindu plans for generational change”.

“There are over 300 Hindu temples and organisations in the UK," said Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the OCHS. "If they can work together to inspire their congregations to make changes, we can make a real contribution to the environmental goals of this country. This meeting was historical because the larger Hindu temples in the UK have agreed to work together as never before, which is very encouraging and a very good example.”

"There was a real feeling of working on something much larger than our own individual temples or organisations. It felt as though we were making history sitting around that table."

"The way in which everyone agreed to help each other was very inspiring. It has been a long time coming, but seeing the Hindu community united for such a noble cause is something to take note of."

As each temple now works to produce its 9 year plan, work is underway to bring onboard and link up with Hindu temples and organisations from America and India.

Martin Palmer, Secretary General of ARC, said: “The ideas, commitments and willingness to work together seen here today is extraordinary and marks a major step forward for both the environment and Hinduism in this country. Our challenge now is to take this inspiring and practical model out from the UK to the USA and back to India itself. India is one of the three countries which will decide the environmental future of the world.”

"Now with food, and especially the environmental cost of meat, right at the top of the global climate change agenda, Hindus feel they have something to say. One of their key concerns is to change public perceptions of the cow as simply a source of food
The Hindu Nine Year Plan

The creation of a 9 year plan will cover 7 key areas of action, outreach and thought: 1. Assets: A look into current assets owned by temples and organizations and how best to manage them in an environmentally friendly manner.

2. Education: Inclusion of environmental matters alongside, or integrated with, education on Hindu beliefs and practices. Starting environmental projects in Hindu schools for young people to become actively involved in environmental issues. The Hindu-Avanti Primary School which opened in London in September 2008 is a prime model for an environmentally conceived education facility.

3. Pastoral Care: Help make living environmentally friendly a part of the daily lives of Hindus.

4. Lifestyles: Look at how the Hindu faith as a whole can make environmentally friendly choices, for example, bulk buying bio-degradable cutlery for temples, cardbon-offsetting pilgrimages to India.

5. Media and Advocacy: Reach out to Government and other faiths, explaining what the Hindu faith is doing and asking them to support us. Promote environmental issues in Hindu media.

6. Partnerships and eco-twinning: Link with other groups who are also working on similar plans.

7. Celebration: Consciously recognise the role of nature in Hindu festivals. Raise awareness through a renewed appreciation in the natural beauty of the world.

More Information

For more information from the OCHS please contact Gateen Patel: gateen@ochs.org.uk Tel: +44 7958 807 506.

ARC is at info@.arcworld.org Tel: +44 1225 758 004.

Background

Handbook to creating a 7 Year Plan (Note this is a 2MB file).

Background to the Plans

Latest news about the Plans

Links

What Does Hinduism teach us about Ecology?

Spiritual Leaders in India go green.

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Hindu Statement on Ecology
A formal statement on Hindu beliefs about the environment. "God’s creation is sacred. Humanity does not have the right to destroy what it cannot create."
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