August 3, 2015
Chandigarh, Punjab — US-based EcoSikh announced the environmental action plan in tandem with the United Nations next major climate conference, COP21, to be held in Paris this year. EcoSikh has prepared a plan to fight the effects of climate change and this plan was recently presented at a conference organized by the French Government in Paris. EcoSikh’s plan includes organizing youth environmental leadership training workshops; training parcharaks/granthis (preachers) to become educators on climate change issues; releasing and implementing EcoSikh’s Green Gurdwara Guide to make the gurdwaras eco-friendly; and organizing a water dialogue to create public awareness about water conservation.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, President of EcoSikh, met French President Francois Hollande during a dinner hosted by the head of state in Paris at the Presidential palace on the eve of an environmental conference organized by the French Government, and informed him of Sikh activism on environmental issues. This meeting, the “Summit of Conscience” in Paris featured faith leaders, international development bodies, environmental activists and UN representatives. Dr. Singh bestowed a siropa, symbolic of a Sikh blessing, to President Hollande as an appreciation for bringing a diverse set of people together on the critical issue facing humanity.
French President Hollande has appointed a special envoy to work with various faith communities and their leadership to engage them in a climate change action plan. France is hosting the UN Climate Change Summit in December which will be attended by 195 heads of state and is hopeful that faith can play an important role in swaying the opinion of elected leaders to pass a binding agreement in Paris.
Dr. Singh, said, “The Sikh community is committed to join the world community to combat the threat of climate change. As Sikhs, we are inspired by Guru Nanak who clearly pointed us to view Earth as our mother and water as our father. This message is part of the daily prayers of Sikhs and it is important that this ethical teaching is implemented by Sikh farmers, educators, preachers and students in their workings and in their lives.”
EcoSikh will engage the Sikh community worldwide to take specific environmental action in the gurdwaras and its surroundings. In addition, it will partner with various Sikh bodies including the SGPC and Baba Sewa Singh of Khadur Sahib particularly focusing on training for preachers. EcoSikh is also planning to present the Sikh plan at the United Nations-sponsored meeting in Bristol, UK in September, which is titled “Faiths and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” This will be attended by representatives of the World Bank, European Union, UNDP and various international bodies who are looking to engage with various faith based initiatives on environmental issues and worldwide efforts to eliminate poverty.
Ravneet Singh, Project Manager of EcoSikh in India said, “We are excited that Sikh youth is showing enthusiasm to be part of this movement. During the recent activities, many young people were willing to take meaningful action to show their serious commitment towards preservation of the environment. The future degradation of earth’s natural resources will affect the coming generations and it is our moral duty to act appropriately.”
Dr. Singh also discussed the French prohibition of religious articles in public spaces, including the Sikh turban, with French ministers. They responded positively and have promised to have a dialogue on this issue.