BERLIN | TOKYO (IDN) – In run-up to the Rio+20 conference, an eminent Buddhist leader and philosopher – who has been persistently campaigning for abolition of all nukes and other weapons of mass annihilation for the last five decades – is urging the international community to halt the plunder of planet earth’s vital resources and agree on a paradigm shift from the pursuit of material wealth to sustainability.
So that Rio+20 does not end up in hollow declarations, Daisaku Ikeda – who presides over the lay Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai International (SGI), based in Tokyo – has tabled a set of proposals, one of which envisages the creation of a “global organization for sustainable development”.
In his ‘Environment Proposal 2012’, Ikeda says: “Every year, 53,000 square kilometres of forest are lost. In many countries, water tables continue to drop, provoking chronic water shortages, and almost 25 percent of the planet’s land area is being affected by the processes of desertification.”
While these are among the pressing issues Rio+20 must grapple with, says Ikeda, the conference title “future we want” also represents “an effort to develop a clear vision of a more ideal relationship between humankind and Earth.”
Ikeda pleads for a new set of sustainable development goals as a successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which should be “a catalyst promoting positive change among people toward the construction of a global society.”
The eight MDGs were agreed at the turn of the millennium (in 2000), when 189 nations pledged to liberate people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations by 2015.
The Buddhist leader further exhorts world leaders attending the Rio+20 conference from June 20 to June 22, 2012 to recommend to the UN General Assembly the creation of “an educational framework promoting sustainability” and raising awareness among individuals and enabling people to “move from empowerment to leadership within their respective communities”.
Rio+20 – officially known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) – is being held two decades after the Earth Summit, the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in the Brazilian city in June 1992.
A major achievement of UNCED was Agenda 21, a thorough and broad-ranging programme of actions demanding “new ways of investing in our future to reach global sustainable development in the 21st century.” Its recommendations ranged from new ways to educate, to new ways to care for natural resources, and new ways to participate in designing a sustainable economy.
Stressing the educational component, Ikeda proposes an educational programme for “a sustainable global society” to start in 2015 as a follow-up on the work of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-14). “The successor framework to the Decade should be focused on fostering the capacities of large numbers of people who can be genuine change agents, spreading waves of transformation within our communities and societies,” he adds.
The SGI president’s Environment Proposal 2012 is a follow-up on his 23-page ‘peace proposal,’ titled ‘Human Security and Sustainability: Sharing Reverence for the Dignity of Life,’ published beginning of the year. It was the thirtieth since1983 on January 26, the day SGI was founded eight years earlier.
That proposal called for a nuclear-free world in which genuine human security, sustainable development and unwavering respect for the dignity of life do not only comprise an ideal but constitute an entrenched reality. [Read: ‘Respect Dignity of Life, Convoke Nuke Abolition Summit’]