International Green Vision Conference

A Workshop on the Green Rehabilitation, Rejuvenation and Resilience of Uttarakhand

Eminent environmentalists, scientists, revered spiritual-religious leaders, dedicated members of the civil society and affected members of local population and esteemed members of administration came together in a conference organized by Ganga Action Parivar, Parmarth Niketan, GIWA-India and Navdanya, to share their experience, expertise and vision to pave the path to a Green Uttarakhand. The focus of the discussions was how to transform the recent tragic Himalayan Tsunami into an opportunity to develop sustainable, eco-friendly ways of growing in concert with the environment, thereby transforming a bane into a boon for the sacred and beautiful land of the Himalayas.

The event was initiated, led, guided and blessed by H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan and Founder of GIWA-India and Ganga Action Parivar. Amongst the numerous leaders, dignitaries, scientists and key institutes present in this important conference were:

· His Excellency the Governor of Uttarakhand, Dr. Aziz Qureshi
· Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Vijay Bahuguna
· Pujya M.M. Swami Avdheshanand Giri, Head Acharya of the Juna Akhara
· Pujya M.M. Swami Asanganand Saraswati
· Hon’ble Former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’
· Renowned scientist and environmentalist and Founder of Navdanya, Dr. Vandana Shiva
· Bollywood actor and Humanitarian, Shri Vivek Oberoi and his wife Smt. Priyanka Alva Oberoi
· Pujya Prem Baba, Brazil
· Hon’ble DGP of Uttarakhand Police, Shri BS Sidhu
· Former Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand, Shri Raghuanand Tolia
· Former Member of Planning Commission, Shri Kamal Taori
· Director of ISRO, Dr. YN Krishnamurthy
· Himalayan Environmentalist and Forest Conservator, Shri Jagat Singh ‘Jangali’
· Founder and President of Himalaya Vahini, Shri Vijaypal Baghel
· Senior Geologist from GSI, Dr. SK Tripathi
· Professor of Wildlife Institute of India, Dr. VP Uniyal
· Former Senior Engineer of Central Water Commission, Er. Rajender Khanna
· Representatives of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, HNB Garhwal University, Plan-India, WASH-India, United Religions Initiative (URI), Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and many others organizations.

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, inaugurating the conference urged the participants: “Let us take this opportunity to transform a bane into a boon. Let us take this ultimatum from Mother Ganga and vow to live in harmony with nature. In this way we can make our birthdays, our holidays, our New Years and every moment more green. Here, we all say “Har Har Gange!” But we also have to now say: “Herbal Gange!” where the land of Mother Ganga becomes herbal, organic, natural and free of all chemicals, toxins and pollution. We also need to say “Har bal Gange!” where everyone puts his/her strength (bal) together to serve this great, divine Mother Ganga, Mother Nature and Mother Earth who provide us our life.”

All those present shared their perspective of the necessity for a rejuvenated vision for development and construction in this mountainous state, a vision which takes into consideration the fragile Himalayan ecosystem, the precious and life-giving waters of Ganga, and the ancient culture/sanskriti of this land.

The conference included detailed discussions on topics ranging from conservation of river and water, climate change and disaster management, green pilgrimage and tourism, protecting forest, agriculture and food as well as many other important topics of discussion. Many ideas were presented and shared with the Honourable Chief Minister including Carbon Credit Centres or Carbon Credit Corporations where carbon credits are provided as financial incentives and rewards to those operating in a green, eco-friendly, sustainable way. Many positive, beneficial ideas for the reconstruction effort were also detailed and shared.

During the event people from more than 20 countries and all around the nation participated in the discussions and activities and submitted their suggestions and ideas for a Green and more sustainable Uttarakhand.

The delegates unanimously pledged and signed a Green Vision Declaration and committed themselves to a Green New Year’s Resolution to live in harmony with Mother Earth, Mother Nature and Mother Ganga. The Declaration was presented to Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Vijay Bahuguna and His Excellency the Governor of Uttarakhand, Dr. Aziz Qureshi, who graciously accepted it. . The declaration included points about green development and green construction, enforcing existing environmental legislation, implementing sustainable energy and green eco-tourism programs, improvinggreen land and water management, improved efforts toward WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) as well improving safety and security of schools and construction.

Following the conference, the participants expressed their deepest gratitude to the Mother River Ganga in a very special Ganga Aarti ceremony graced by the presence of His Excellency the Governor Dr. Aziz Qureshiji. The evening ceremony was led by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji in which the tireless work of the Army, BSF, BRO, and all dedicated volunteers were appreciated and lauded and which included a special prayer for all those families who lost loved ones in the tragic floods.

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