Inner Change and Local Action to Protect Our Planet

People viewing the “Seeds of Hope” exhibition
The “Seeds of Hope” exhibition being shown at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations headquarters, Rome, Italy (2018) [©Seikyo Shimbun]

Leading up to COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, in November, Soka Gakkai organizations around the world have been building awareness around environmental issues and climate change through events and educational resources.

In November 2021, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, with the Pre-COP Summit held in Milan, Italy. In the lead up to these important milestones in the fight to tackle climate change, Soka Gakkai organizations in the UK, Italy and Japan are carrying out activities that form part of a campaign called “Seeds of Hope & Action: Inner Change and Local Action for the SDGs.” Launched in January 2021, it promotes local-level action to address climate change and other environmental issues.

Group photo of children in front of an SDG sign
An SGI-UK event where children learn about the Sustainable Development Goals [©Seikyo Shimbun]

SGI-UK and the Centre for Applied Buddhism have been hosting a series of monthly webinars under the title “Bodhisattvas for the Earth.” This includes Soka Gakkai members sharing their personal stories of how inner-motivated change led them to take action in their communities. In the December 10 webinar, SGI-UK member Vieve Richardson, a marine naturalist and wildlife photographer, spoke about how through working closely with nature and deepening her appreciation for the natural world, her own personal efforts toward making a difference to climate change had also increased. “Together,” she says, “we can make a great change.” The series also includes webinars focusing on understanding the climate crisis from various faith and other perspectives in collaboration with other faith groups and scholars.

Soka Gakkai Italy has produced a film titled Cambio Io, Cambia il Mondo (If I change, the world will change) showcasing the efforts of three Soka Gakkai members contributing to their communities, including one man inspired by the SGI (Soka Gakkai International) and Earth Charter exhibition “Seeds of Change” to set up an NGO that teaches children about our interconnection with the natural world. Soka Gakkai Italy is also promoting a new exhibition that raises awareness and provides hopeful perspectives on climate change.

By generating a global solidarity of action to confront the challenge of climate change, we can and must effect this kind of paradigm shift, opening new horizons in human history.

Noriko Komatsu, chair of the Youth Women’s Conference on Peace and Culture of the Soka Gakkai in Japan, describes efforts to raise awareness of the climate crisis there: “Toward COP26 and beyond, we are determined to promote dialogue at the grassroots through educational tools including the Mapting app and the ‘Seeds of Hope & Action’ (SOHA) exhibition, spreading the message that each individual has immense potential to overcome feelings of powerlessness and make a great change.”

A short awareness-raising film on climate change was also recently created in Japan by the Soka Gakkai Peace Committee. In addition, the Soka Gakkai is collaborating with the Soka Institute of the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil, which promotes reforestation and environment education.

In his 2020 peace proposal, “Toward Our Shared Future: Constructing an Era of Human Solidarity,” Daisaku Ikeda, president of the SGI, writes: “Because climate change is an issue that will leave no one untouched, it has the potential to catalyze heretofore unseen global solidarity and action. Our success or failure in actualizing this potential is in fact the defining issue of our time . . . By generating a global solidarity of action to confront the challenge of climate change, we can and must effect this kind of paradigm shift, opening new horizons in human history.”

With this spirit, and embracing the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “leave no one behind,” the Soka Gakkai is committed to working toward transforming the crisis of climate change into an opportunity to reshape history for the benefit of all humanity.

[March 2021]