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Third Daoist Ecology Forum opens in Jurong, Jiangsu - and this one is country-wide

October 27, 2008:

The Third Daoist Ecology Forum is being held in Jurong.

The third Daoist Ecology Forum opened this morning in the city of Jurong, near Nanjing in Jiansu Province, with 69 monks and nuns from all around the country participating, as well as 120 government officials - including senior members of the religious bureau - and also high level UN representation.

The conference is being held in Jurong because of its proximity to the sacred Daoist mountain of Maoshan, which has been one of the leaders in ecological development. The road to Maoshan is now lit by solar-powered lamps, in an arrangement between the Daoists and the local authority, and the temple itself has reforested the areas that come under its control. It is a pilot project for a new scheme by Daoists throughout China to recommend that the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who visit every year burn just three incense sticks each, to cut down pollution.

The monks are now looking to green every aspect of their work, including Daoist industries.

This conference builds on work that ARC has been doing with the Daoists since 1995, alongside our partners EMF and WWF, including building an ecological temple at Tai Bai Shan, and organising the first two conferences, as well as co-sponsoring and co-organising this event.

Tomorrow the monks and nuns at the conference will announce their own version of the ARC/UNDP Seven Year Plan - which will be an Eight Year Plan in line with the auspicious numbers under Daoist beliefs.

They will also launch the Mao Shan Declaration on Daoism and the Environment, with its statement that:

"What is climate change in its most simplistic scientific sense? It is all about the balance of carbon – a very important component in our natural system which makes life possible as we know it. It is about the balance of the carbon that exists in the air, in the clouds, in the atmosphere that surrounds us on the one hand and the carbon in the earth on the other, including in living things. And what we have been busily doing as humanity is to disrupt that balance, that yin and yang, and to move a lot of carbon out of the earth and into the clouds."
Based on Taoist principles, we hold Lao Zi as our God of Ecology. We advocate a better use of land, forest and water resources, and we call for all the faithful to make the landscape in and around Taoist temples greener and more beautiful. We will also put in place proper facilities that will help protect our water resources and deal with pollution, build systematic plans and regulations that will help to promote environment protection programs, and education, and use energy saving technology and materials in order to build a benign ecological link between living areas and the natural environment.

Many of the ideas and action plans in both the Mao Shan Declaration and the Daoist Eight Year Plans will be an inspiration to other Daoists and people of other religions around the world, who are looking to create their own Seven or Eight Year Plans for generational changes.

"The production of the eight year plans were the highlight of the process," said head of ARC's China programme, Dr He Xiaoxin. "At the end of this they will present the Eight Year Plan to the China Daoist Association along with a series of recommendations about Daoism and the Environment. The Daoists want to carry on with these forums into the future," she added.

One of the outcomes is that for the first time Daoists have the definition of what constitutes a "Daoist Ecological Temple" including what standards it has to achieve in terms of construction, action, programmes, outreach and education. This means that there is a chance of having more Ecological Temples around China, and that these will fulfil a real rather than nominal function.

"The United Nations is 60 years old – and Daoism is thousands of years old. And I think there is a lot that can be learned from the Daoist tradition that would help us in the work of the United Nations today," said Dr Olav Kjorven, Deputy Director of UNDP, who has been a leading presence in the support of this programme within the UN and who attended the Daoist Forum.

"Because of the way we utilize energy and organize our economies around the world we are in danger of severely disrupting the balance of the climate, which conditions everything around us.

"But what is climate change in its most simplistic scientific sense? It is all about the balance of carbon – a very important component in our natural system which makes life possible as we know it. It is about the balance of the carbon that exists in the air, in the clouds, in the atmosphere that surrounds us on the one hand and the carbon in the earth on the other, including in living things.

"And what we have been busily doing as humanity – particularly in the rich countries, but also increasingly in other countries around the world including China – is to disrupt that balance and move a lot of carbon out of the earth and into the clouds. This is familiar to you, I think because if this is anything at all it is the disruption of the balance between the yin and the yang.

"And I think that your tradition as Daoists in China – your expression of the yin and the yang and how it relates to our existence as human beings – expresses better than any other religious tradition that I know of the challenge that we are facing when it comes to environmental degradation and climate change."



Links

***Link here for details of the Mao Shan Declaration - in Chinese and English.

*** Link here for details of Martin Palmer's introductory talk at the Daoist Ecology Forum in Jurong.

*** Link here for details of Martin Palmer's response to the Daoist Ecology Forum in Jurong.

*** Link here for details of UN's representative, Olav Kjorven's speech at the Third Daoist Ecology Forum in Jurong.

*** And link here to read an article on Daoism and climate change written by Olav Kjorven.

*** Link here for details of Chinese Daoists' Ecology Protection Eight Year Plan.

*** Link here for more Daoist eco-news.

***Link here for news of the motion for "International Recognition of Sacred Sites" at the recent IUCN Congress in Barcelona.



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November 6 2008:
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