COIMBATORE: Leading voices from around the globe pitched strongly for unified action against climate change at the official briefing of Champions for 1 Trillion Trees, a major new initiative led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the World Economic Forum Summit in Davos today.
Sadhguru, Founder, Isha Foundation shared stage with business, political, environmental and cultural leaders who spoke in one voice for the ambitious campaign which aims to plant 1 trillion trees worldwide in 10 years. Sadhguru has launched pathbreaking ecological initiatives in India including award-winning projects such as Project GreenHands (PGH) and Rally for Rivers (RfR) – both of which promote tree plantation. While PGH is a grassroots movement that has enrolled 3 million people to plant 35 million trees, RfR promotes an economic model where farmers can earn by planting and harvesting high value trees on their farmlands.
Sadhguru said that unless 50 to 60% of the soil on the planet is put under shade, there is no way to maintain fertile soil rich in organic content. The alarming decline in soil quality has led to severe depletion in the nutritional value of food grown on land. “Nutritional value of food we eat has come down by 40%; trees have to come back if this has to change,” said Sadhguru. He also spoke about making planting an economic model so that farmers can prosper. “We never talk to the farmer about saving the planet,” said Sadhguru referring to the Cauvery Calling model which is promoting tree-based agriculture as an economic model among farmers in the Cauvery river basin in southern India. He added that unless farmers gain substantially from this activity, the model will not work.
Sadhguru also spoke about the illegal timber trade in the world. “Timber sold around the planet is largely illegal,” he said because timber is still treated as forest produce. “Timber is a lucrative item – it has to become an economic process,” said Sadhguru adding that the only way to stop the illegal trade is to make timber an agricultural produce and allow farmers to grow, fell and sell it for economic gain.
Sadhguru also touched briefly about migration and said how planting high-value, high-yield crop on the farmland is one way to hold the farmer to his land. It is expected that 220 million people will migrate to Indian cities in a decade and about 1.6 billion people will migrate worldwide. Developing rural communities by giving them an incentive to stay on the land is one of the ways to check uncontrolled migration for which no city is prepared, said Sadhguru.
Other speakers at the briefing included Iván Duque, President of Colombia; Marc Benioff, Founder and Chairman Salesforce.com; Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President, Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT); and renowned Scientists and Conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.