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Global Buddhist monks call for tackling climate change

ANI, March 4, 2016

Ayutthaya, Thailand -- Buddhist monks from around the world gathered at Thailand's ancient Ayutthaya city on Thursday for the last day of the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) during which they laid emphasis on actions to tackle climate change.

The delegates from 320 organisations in 39 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Brazil, participated in the second gathering of the IBC.

"What is exciting is that we heard a lot of young voices coming up with their ideas on how we should spread the message. I think it's novel for us to hear that people are talking about Facebook, about internet, about tablets, iPads, new methods of communications, how to raise funds. Totally different from the traditional, you know, view point of Buddhist leaders who talked about sermons," said Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian diplomat and founder president of Kalinga Langka Foundation.

One of the key issues discussed were how the monks in different countries find ways to address the climate change.

Buntenh But, a Buddhist monk from Penom Penh, Cambodia, said he has initiated a movement in his home country to create awareness for people to preserve the forest.

He explained that he learned through the 2011 flood disaster in Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand and Cambodia, which faces severe flooding nationwide.

"Land is the life, forest is the backbone of our life. If we lost the land, we lost the life. We lost the forest, we lost our backbone. No one can live without backbone. Backbone is very important so I use this message, simple message to attract those people, those young people. That is why they joined me freely," he said.

As China faces health-damaging pollution problem, Beijing's fourth-quarter pollution woes were mirrored elsewhere in northern China, where concentrations of PM2.5 were significantly higher than in 2013 and 2014, Greenpeace said.

China has worked to toughen environmental protection laws in recent years. Amended legislation took effect this month giving authorities more power to punish firms and officials responsible for violations.

On the religion side, a temple in Boshan, east of China's Shandong Province, is pioneering to become an eco-friendly temple by installing solar power energy.

"We installed the 600 kilowatt solar system in our park and in our rooftop. So that we have enough electricity generated by solar, so we can really be 100 percent self sufficient. And that is very good example, right now, all of our fellows that devoted to our temple wanted the solar," said Ven. Miao Haiyan.

The meeting also realised the importance of concerning global issues including various conflicts around the world, said the IBC's Governing Council vice-president Jamie Creswell, where he believes that Buddhism can contribute to enhance the religion's wisdom and peace values to people in disturbed areas.

"We believe that Buddhism can help in many of those situations. For example, we're already very involved in the environmental issues, climate change, looking after animals properly, all the various things that goes along with environmental issues. And also, we're getting more and more involved in issues like gender issues and human rights, but also conflict problems," Creswell explained with regard to the significance of the IBC's forum.

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