By Syed AkbarHyderabad: GYAN & Living Planet Foundation hosted a conference entitled, “A Green Yatra for Biodiversity” on margins of the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11).
The events are being organized in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, DiversEarth, Sacred Natural Sites Initiative, IUCN, WCPA Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas and Vikasa Tarangini.
Following the morning conference on October 14, the ceremonial launch of the “Green Kumbh Yatra” began at 2:30 pm with traditional solemnity and fervor amidst international delegates and spiritual leaders. The Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is expected to join the ceremony.
During the ceremony, a decorated Kumbh containing samples of fabric from various parts of the world were presented to the Executive Secretary followed by a cultural display representing India’s rich culture and biodiversity.
A Kumbh – which means a brass pitcher, or “kalash” as it is known in Sanskrit – is an integral part of all sacred activities in Hindu culture. In the context of COP 11, it is aptly named “The Green Kumbh” - a symbol of the “web of life” that includes all animals, humans, plants, microscopic creatures and their habitats on the planet.
The Green Kumbh Yatra will be an environmental pilgrimage on foot and non-motorized vehicles that will traverse 1125 kilometers through rural routes and culminate at Allahabad, the site of the Maha Kumbh in January 2013. After Allahabad, the Green Kumbh Yatra will continue to other parts of India before traveling across continents and countries and will ultimately arrive in South Korea for COP12 in 2014.
The Green Kumbh Yatra has no modern precedent and is being introduced by Living Planet Foundation at COP 11 as a launching point to emphasize the profound connection between the collective wisdom and resources of the faith traditions and their role in conserving biodiversity.
“Our aim is to establish the Green Kumbh Yatra as a powerful focal point around which people can demonstrate their commitment to save the environment and to building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come” says founder Kusum Vyas.
The main aim of the Green Kumbh Yatra is to mobilize the masses and raise awareness by mainstreaming biodiversity and highlighting its importance to human health and livelihoods. We hope to engage the hearts and minds of the local communities with the beauty and significance of the natural world by highlighting their essential role in protecting biodiversity and the critical habitat upon which they depend. The Green Kumbh Yatra has the potential to generate mass awareness in rural areas, where a great proportion of India’s remaining biological and cultural diversity is located.
The inspiration for a “Green” Kumbh Yatra is rooted in the Maha Kumbh Mela, which is held every 12 years in Allahabad. The Mela attracts as many as 70 million worshippers from around the world every year, which come to bathe in the intersection of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and have earned its fame as "the world's most massive act of faith.”
Inspired by the convergence of tens of millions of people of varied faiths and cultures at the 2001 Kumbh Mela, Kusum Vyas, founder of the Living Planet Foundation, realized that if one could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about the earth's ecological balance, it would not only impress environmental and biodiversity conservation onto the national agenda, but also convey these crucial issues to both local and international communities.
“Why not declare a sacred and massive event such as the Kumbh a “Green” event? With the prospect of greater numbers of congregants than ever at the 2013 Kumbh, a Green Kumbh would have the added value of bringing environment and biodiversity into the mainstream thinking of varied faith groups and putting ecological concerns front and center”.
To ensure the event’s success, GYAN and the Living Planet Foundation are collaborating with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, DiversEarth, IUCN, the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative, Vikasa Tarangini and the WCPA Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas.