024RINGO morning meeting
RINGO is the constituency Brahma Kumaris is affiliated with, it stands for Research and Independent NGO. Valeriane Bernard attended several RINGO meetings. On 29 November, all the participants informed about their activities in COP 18. Some of them followed meetings on mitigation, others on poverty or adaptation. Valeriane was invited to be part of the drafting committee for the RINGO High-level Statement to be read for the plenary next week. She stressed the importance of ethics and values in the process of the COP meetings, science can help in providing information but ultimately it is the ethical choice of the negotiators that will allow them to take the right directions and decisions.

COICA: Indigenous people of the Amazonas
The elders amongst the Indigenous people of the Amazonas were from Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Surinam and Bolivia. The aim of the meeting was to discuss about REDD+ Programme, which is the United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. They also discussed about the measurement systems promoted by the Programme. Indigenous are establishing their own project to protect the Amazonas forest, as they consider it is their responsibility to take care of their own forest and ecosystems since it is their habitat and culture. The representatives of the indigenous communities from the five countries came to present their appreciation of the REDD and their projects.

018Interfaith lunch
Valeriane Bernard attended an interreligious lunch gathering, with approximately twenty delegates coming from different faiths. It was an informal follow-up from the day before, about how faiths can influence the climate change conversation. On one hand, they shared what each one of them is doing already with regards to climate change. The participants to the meeting also stressed how important it is that the head of each religion is informed of the reality of Climate Change at the level of the negotiations as well as how the populations are affected and it was shared that if they take position it would make a difference. Only then, the whole community be informed and will assume commitments. One another hand, it would be good to maintain the conversation between the different faiths, which should continue in the next COP in Warsaw. It was noted that the first step is to maintain the connection.


UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres addressing the NGO's

In an extra side event Christiana Figueres met the NGO's. The hall was full and the questions were many. Christiana Figueres was again and again underlining that an attitude shift is needed - we need to set ourselves and also put things in a constructive mood. We can't continue confrontations, those who believe that confrontation is the method to move forward are fundamentally wrong. We have to build a platform of co-operation. We have to change from coming here with an attitude of doing minimal to an attitude of doing as much as possible.

Untitled1Climate change starts in the mind

Climate change is a result of our actions which, in turn, are the result of our thoughts. If we change our thoughts, the climate will also be influenced – this was the message of a presentation titled ‘Healthy Minds, Healthy Planet’ at the Qatar Sustainablility Expo on 29 November 2012.

Degradation in values is behind the degradation of the environment, said Golo Pilz, who has worked in the field of alternative energy in India for more than sixteen years. Noting that mankind’s current pattern of use of resources was unsustainable, he said man’s ecological footprint was equal to 1.6 times the Earth’s resources. “We need to rethink our consumerist pattern, reuse things, reduce consumption and recycle,” said Golo Pilz, underlining that all this can happen only if there is a change in thinking.

The first step of this change is to think good about oneself, then think good about others, and finally think good about the world, he said, adding that common understanding and a shared value system were keys to global action to combat climate change. Coming to practical actions to help the planet, Golo Pilz called for a thorough energy audit in the areas of power generation, transportation, industry and housing, particularly in countries like Qatar that have a large carbon footprint, to reduce waste and adopt more sustainable lifestyles.
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Solar energy can play a big role in this, he said. “The earth gets 1,000 times more solar radiation that our energy needs. Six hours of sunshine is enough to provide the world’s energy needs,” said Golo Pilz, who has implemented 150 photovoltaic systems and several large solar steam cooking systems in India, including one that cooks 35,000 meals a day. He is currently heading India One, a one-megawatt solar thermal power project that will use thermal storage to produce power round the clock.
COP 18 Rep 29 Nov 2012 Earlier, introducing the organisers of the event, the Brahma Kumaris, Anthony Phelips, who is a strategic consultant for multinational corporations, said it was a spiritual organisation that believed that thoughts create attitudes, which in turn create the atmosphere, and so change must begin with our thinking.

A practical example of such thinking was yogic farming, practised by a group of farmers in India, which has enabled them to “improve their produce without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides”, said Valeriane Bernard, who works with several NGOs and UN bodies. After they started to practice meditation, the farmers started seeing the world in a different light. They put the seeds they used in front of them, and also meditated on the land they were cultivating. That led to much better produce. This not only benefited the farmers economically, but also brought together farming communities that had been disintegrating due to economic difficulties.

Sonja Ohlsson, the coordinator of the Brahma Kumaris mission at COP 18, noted that changing thinking was difficult for negotiators and decision makers, and this was where meditation came in. “When our thoughts and our mind are in harmony, it sends harmonious signals to the body, and we are healthier. When we are healthier, we consume less, and that leads to more savings and sustainability,” she said. Comparisons of wealth, possessions lead to disharmony. Nature does not compare. “We can learn from that and cooperate with and complement each other”, she said. There has to be a shift in attitude from confrontation to cooperation. “If we learn to share, that would be a big help for the planet”, she added.
The event was successful. About one hundred people attended. There was interaction with the participants. Two Qatari entrepreneurs attended and were very impressed and expressed that it was an enlightening experience. Many of the attendees expressed their adherence to the message that we have to empower ourselves and then we become example and everything comes automatically.

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We are all here on this planet, as it were, as tourists. The most important thing is to be a good human being. Dalai Lama