In the last month Karuna participated in Buddhist Action Month: (BAM!) which is an annual festival of Buddhist social action. It started in Britain in 2012 and has since spread out across Europe and beyond. Social action is one of the manifestations of METTA, the strong intention to create Loving Kindness for all, which is embodied in the desire to act for the benefit of the world. This year the focus was on climate change.
Here at Karuna we seized the opportunity to investigate how we could further reduce our impact on the world’s resources. A group of five staff members from different departments within Karuna have been meeting regularly over the month and has already had some success in having an environmental audit approved for later this year, and generally in raising the profile of environmental concerns within the organisation. We’ve engaged the Karuna team by sharing weekly videos on the impact of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable communities in South Asia, and held regular study inspired by eco-focussed Dharma.
For Karuna, whose aim is to create sustainable change for Dalit and marginalised communities in India and Nepal, climate change and the impact of natural disasters is particularly pertinant. Dalit communities often live in areas most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. In the last month we have seen some of the worst drought Maharashtra has ever faced, causing people to abandon their livestock and farmland which has become barron. A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that climate change “disproportionately affects disadvantaged and vulnerable populations through food insecurity, higher food prices, income losses, lost livelihood opportunities, adverse health impacts, and population displacements”. If we are to create real sustainable change within the communities we are working to support, we will have to increasingly consider how we can positively affect our impact on the environment.
BAM is nearly over for this year, and it has certainly got the ball rolling. We intend to keep pushing to raise awareness and establish better practices, and to follow up on the recommendations of our energy audit.