UNEP Chief discusses RfR with Sadhguru at Global Landscapes Forum

Rally for Rivers is being examined in earnest by the state and central governments in India. Meanwhile, it is also being seen by global leaders as a model of ecological movement.

Erik Solheim, Executive Director of United Nations Environment (UNEP) lauded the Rally for Rivers initiative in a conversation with Sadhguru at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), the world’s largest knowledge-led platform on sustainable land use, dedicated to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement. The Global Landscapes Forum is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), United Nations Environment, the World Bank and the Government of Germany. The GLF conference was held on 19 December 2017 at Bonn, Germany. The conversation explored the vision, objective and implementation of Rally for Rivers and its potential for becoming a solution for tropical regions that face similar challenges of drying rivers, depleting groundwater levels and land degradation. A 1000-member audience at the event consisted of heads of nations, environmentalists, ecologists, policy-makers and other nation-builders and influencers from around the world.

UNEP is the world’s leading environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda and promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development. The member nations of the Forum also lauded the Rally for Rivers initiative which received support from 162 million people in 30 days, making it one of the world’s biggest and most successful ecological campaigns.

GLF aspires to spark a movement of 1 billion people towards sustainable landscapes. It is no surprise then that they were keen to understand how a movement like Rally for Rivers was conceptualized and rolled-out on such a massive scale. One of the key points which Sadhguru brought forth was: “It’s very important that an environmental movement presents our concerns in a way that it’s beneficial for the people. They must understand that by engaging with it they will benefit in some way because they’re just fighting for their survival. You can’t tell them to go save the planet – it’s not going to work. So, this is the fundamental difference that I try to bring about.”

He also spoke about how those who the society trusts should be brought into the movement. This crucial trust-building exercise with the various stakeholders, including governments, public, industry and farmers are the reason for Rally for Rivers’ success, Sadhguru said. Sadhguru advised other nations to replicate this: “In your countries and in your societies, whoever is that voice, you must pick out that person and make sure that person speaks. It could be a sports star, it could be a film star, it could be a spiritual leader, it doesn’t matter who they are but it’s a trusted voice. Only then we can move the people.” Other points that Sadhguru brought up were about converting filth to wealth, so that wastewater is treated and utilized for irrigation. Sadhguru also stressed on the need to remove taxation on Farmer Producer Organizations, and how local communities should be allowed to participate and also protect the forests they depend on.

The discussion was very well-received by all present, who lauded the efforts of Rally for Rivers, which they hoped can be a model for a global ecological movement. The Director-General of CIFOR, Robert Nasi, sent a letter thanking Sadhguru for his participation in GLF and appreciating his insights. “The impact of your involvement cannot be understated,” said Mr. Nasi. A very succinct and appropriate encapsulation of Sadhguru’s and Rally for Rivers’ impact!

Featured image courtesy: GlobalLandscapesForum