By Bhaskar Goswami, co-founder of daana
In COP22 UN Climate Change Summit, we learnt that there are three entities responsible for meaningfully addressing the rapidly deteriorating condition of our planet: Global Culture, Global Innovations and Global Policies. They are like three legs of a tripod. Each need to be equal in size and equal in strength if we are to avoid a global climate crisis.
The Heart | Global culture is the will of the people, communal collaboration and our collective inherited wisdom. We met Stella and Tara Joy from Active Remedy in the UK. This mother and daughter duo are like a two-person army, deeply concerned about the decline and pollution of drinkable water. They are self-taught and self-financed by Tara’s art. From meeting with leading climate scientist to HH the Dalai Lama, they have travelled the world for over thirteen years to understand and inform. Stella explains, “Imagine that our current water condition is like a house, and the snow-capped mountains are our roof. We are losing this roof at an alarming rate. Once the roof goes, the inhabitants of the house will not survive”.
We met Niti Dandekar from the international organization Sustaining All Life, that see this will of the people arising is silos around the world. Many of them feel overwhelmed and frustrated with the crippling
challenges. Niti’s organization bring these ‘eco warriors’ together, offering community, resources, group counselling, re-evaluation and conflict resolution.
We had the honor to live and share our space with the incredible women of Dynamique Femmes, who promote women’s rights through various associations in Morocco. Like flowers in the Sahara deserts, they blossom despite generations of social and political oppression. With eloquent wisdom in the form of poetry, theatre and discourse, they bring light to the root cause of this crisis; greed. They embody the Jimi Hendrix quote “when the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”. Being a man, it is embarrassing to admit that literally all the violence on earth and the suffering of its inhabitants are caused by greedy men. The time has come for the voice of love and wisdom to be listened to carefully.
The Head | Global Innovations is the brilliance of humanity, both individual and industrial, inherited and modern. We saw traditional refrigeration methods from Kenya made of two earthen pots, one inside the other with wet sand in between. This can keep food cool for fifteen days! We saw space-age motorcycles running on water, solar powered sports cars, self-sustaining portable water purification systems in cargo containers, and on and on. The ingenuity of humankind was in full display. There were also eco-conscious financial systems supporting such initiatives.
There were academics and researchers like Marco Calderoni from Politecnico Di Milano in Italy, studying ancient systems of heating and cooling of large civilian areas, and bringing them into our modern context. Government organizations like Dr. Nadia Bezad from the Ministry of Environment, Kingdom of Morocco, showcasing how Morocco has managed to keep such a low eco footprint, maintain its culture while embracing innovation, and creating a growing eco-tourism industry.
The Bottom Line | Global Policies are the third leg of this tripod. It is unique in that its primary role is to create the fertile environment for the other two to flourish. It is in service of Culture and Innovations, just like a gardener is in service of the plants to thrive. Yet, something peculiar is happening at COP22, and in fact at all the Climate Change Summits that have preceded this for the last 22 years. The policy makers are front and center, while the other two can easily be mistaken as side entertainment.
Personally, my school was entirely powered by solar panels 40 years ago. The technology for electric cars has been around for longer than that. Why is it taking so long for all this to become mainstream? For the policy makers, there seems to be a tension between the needs of the powerful interested parties that they represent, and the needs of the planet. This is the desperately slowing down progress and making international policies inefficient to say the least. Rules, regulations, legalities, legislative policies, counter-policies, accords, treaties, negotiations, amendments have resulted in so little change over 22 years of COP.
It reminds me of this anecdote. On a dark night, the captain of a powerful navel ship commands to the light in the distance, “Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision”. The response comes “Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.” The captain replies “This is the captain of a naval ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.” The response insists, “No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.” The captain gets furious and shouts, “We are the second largest ship in the Atlantic fleet! We are accompanied by three destroyers. I demand that you change your course or counter measures will be taken!”. After a moment of silence, the response quietly comes, “Sir, we are a lighthouse”. Climate change is the lighthouse.
It became clear to us that the UN Climate Change Summit should change its course and have Culture and Innovations in the forefront. Let us collectively focus on the best solutions and then create policies to make them thrive. Otherwise, as Einstein said, “Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting
When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice
In aircraft tutorial videos prior to take off, parents are encouraged to put on their oxygen mask before putting it on their child. Similarly, before any efforts in saving the planet, we must first take care of our personal health. When you squeeze an orange, you can only get orange juice, not grape juice or apple juice. As we get ‘squeezed’ in life, both personally and as a collective humanity, it is only what is inside of us that can come out. If what we have is superficial thinking, anxiety, frustration and greed, then this is what will come out. If instead we have creativity, compassion, cooperation and equanimity, then this is what will come out.
Mind matters most. This is what decides which policies to follow, where to invest, what research to engage in, and what not to engage with. Likewise, if the body is feeling miserable, the mind cannot be in a good condition. Therefore, having access to wellness activities to look after our body and mind needs to be a basic human right, and the foundation for meaningful good in the world.
As co-founders of daana, we were invited to COP22 to give three conferences on how wellness relates to addressing climate change. We also guided yoga and meditation classes in the mornings and evenings at the event. daana is an award-winning non-profit from Montreal, creating anonymous voluntary contribution based wellness activities in neighborhoods around the world, in readily available spaces. The meaning of daana in the ancient language of Sanskrit is ‘cultivating the virtue of generosity by giving’. We recycle spaces to make wellness practices available to all, and create a new global economy based on generosity.
daana’s message at COP22 is that Global Culture, Global Innovations and Global Policies can best flourish with a foundation of inner wellbeing. Our mission is to provide this at a global level.
For more information, please visit globaldaana.org (iOS + Android app: daana)
About the author:
From Assam, India, Bhaskar Goswami was born into the yogic tradition. He comes from the lineage of Vasishtha, who is one of the founding fathers of this ancient practice. With a Masters in Electronic Engineering from Nottingham University, Bhaskar’s 10-year international engineering career provides him with a strong understanding of the benefits and methods of mindful living in an urban environment. In 2007 he founded the multiple award winning organization, BODHI, dedicated to offering genuine wellbeing to people in workplaces. In 2014 he co-founded daana a non-profit organization offering give-it-forward wellness worldwide. [email protected]