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Buddhists Create Space for Dialogue During COP26

From Nov. 1 to 7, the first week of COP26, the 26th annual U.N. Climate Change Conference, held in Glasgow, Scotland, the SGI, SGI-U.K. and the Centre for Applied Buddhism provided a platform for dialogue among key stakeholders—from faith leaders to youth activists—under the theme “Sowing Seeds of Hope— Action for Climate Justice.”

“We are not voiceless, but we are unheard,” said Shreya K.C. of the Nepalese Youth for Climate Action, at a Nov. 3 event titled “Beyond Rhetoric—Youth Leadership for Climate Action.” This event saw youth leaders from countries in the Global South including Nigeria and Pakistan passionately articulate their visions for climate justice.

At a Nov. 4 panel titled “Global Justice—Climate Justice,” Shanon Shah, director of Faith for the Climate, clarified that the climate crisis is a social and political issue because the most vulnerable, who have done the least to cause the climate emergency, are suffering the most.

Several events highlighted the power of human stories to inspire people to take action. Netherlands-based indigenous activist Raki Ap said, “Story change can create system change.”

On Nov. 1, the exhibition “Seeds of Hope & Action,” created by the SGI in collaboration with the Earth Charter International, was launched at Websters Theatre, bringing a message of hope and empowerment to tackle the despair caused by the climate crisis. Elizabeth Wathuti, founder of the Green Generation Initiative of Kenya and Global South co-chair of the COP26 Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council, spoke at the launch.

Soka Gakkai organizations around the world have been active in the lead-up to COP26. SGI-U.K. and the Centre for Applied Buddhism held a yearlong series of monthly webinars sharing Buddhist perspectives from individual SGI-U.K. members and other climate activists. Groups in India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore have also initiated grassroots awareness-raising programs on the climate crisis.

On the first day of the conference, Oct. 31, the SGI announced a statement at a COP26 press conference, calling for genuine global solidarity of action to address the climate emergency. It states: “As well as accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gases, it is crucial that the outcomes of COP26 leave no one behind, strengthen education, give increased leadership opportunities to young people and empower us all to sow seeds of hope and action.”

—Adapted from sokaglobal.org

The Soka Gakkai International is an NGO in consultative status with the U.N. ECOSOC since 1983. The Centre for Applied Buddhism is a U.K.-based hub of research, dialogue and study.

Watch a short video of diverse voices from the week’s events.

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