New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said climate change is a “pressing global challenge” that calls for “collective human action and a comprehensive response”.
Addressing a gathering of spiritual leaders, scholars and leaders from several countries at a conference on conflict avoidance and environment consciousness, the prime minister said it was the poor people of the world who were most directly hit due to climate change.
“In my view, the most adversely affected by climate change are the poor and the downtrodden. When a natural disaster strikes, they are hit the hardest.
“When there are floods, they are rendered homeless. During a quake, their homes are destroyed. During droughts, they are affected. And during extreme cold too, the homeless suffer the most,” he said.
“We can’t let climate change keep affecting people in this manner. Which is why I believe the discourse must shift focus from climate change to climate justice.”
Talking about Buddhism, the prime minister said Buddhist tradition, in all its historical and cultural manifestations, encouraged greater identification with the natural world because from a Buddhist perspective nothing has a separate existence.
Stating that the impurities in the environment affect the mind, and the impurities of mind also pollute the environment, he said: “In order to purify the environment, we have to purify the mind.”
Modi said the eco crisis was a reflection of imbalance of mind. Lord Buddha, therefore, accorded importance to the need for preserving natural resources, and created tools related to water conservation and forbid the monks from polluting water resources.
The nature, forests, trees and the well-being of all beings play a great role in the teachings of Lord Buddha, he said.
“Personally, it is my reading of Vedic literature that educated me about the strong bond between humans and mother nature. We are all aware of Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrine of trusteeship.”
“In this context, the present generation has the responsibility to act as a trustee of the rich natural wealth for the future generations.”
He said the issue was not merely about climate change. “It is about climate justice.”
Modi said the teachings of Gautama Buddha resonate clearly with the major themes chosen for the symposium – avoiding conflicts, moving towards environmental consciousness and free and frank dialogue.
“Without proper dialogue, neither of the two themes of conflict avoidance is possible or workable.”