April 20 2020

From Wonder to Environmental Action

Raising awareness: Wonder within reach

Our founder, Matthieu Ricard, has always considered nature to be an endless source of inspiration. He reflects on it and advocates for taking the time to observe and learn from it.

« The word ‘amazement’ popped into my mind  to express the state of rapture I felt in the presence of the wilderness. » ~ Matthieu Ricard, An Ode to Beauty

oday, enjoying beautiful landscapes and being able to interact with nature is no longer within everyone’s reach..Half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, so the ability to marvel at nature is becoming increasingly rare, especially since expanding cities are damaging the environment around them. Environmental preservation and rehabilitation is therefore considered essential at Karuna-Shechen.

Karuna-Shechen acts to take care of the Earth. Our GoGreen project plants trees in the cities of Bodhgaya and Jamshedpur, India. In 2019, we planted 1,914 trees with an environmental conservation message in Hindi and English. With a sustainable approach, we take care of the trees for the first two years by surrounding them with a protective fence. As part of GoGreen, we also visit elementary schools in order to raise awareness among the younger generation, who will be the future agents of positive change. Finally, we paint colorful murals in the community that catch the eye and spread the message to the widest possible audience.

Preservation: our fight against pollution in India

Environmental destruction has become one of the main causes of death worldwide. Air pollution is responsible for millions of preventable deaths, more than those caused by war or smoking. Water is also impacted, since it is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. These are just a few examples! Human-caused destruction is also harming the millions of other animal species that are our fellow inhabitants on Earth. It is therefore vital to rethink our way of life.

After wonder comes a need for action to protect the environment, all beings, and the lives of the most fragile populations.

India produces more than six million tons of plastic waste every year. The resulting pollution is immense because only 25% of this waste is recycled, and the rest is stored in landfills or dumped into the Indian Ocean. There is an urgent need to reduce plastic use and, above all, to educate people about the environmental damage caused by plastic.

Our Clean Environment project combines prevention and action. It consists of distributing reusable jute bags to reduce plastic bags, which are systematically supplied with each purchase.

Agriculture is one of India’s major economic sectors that employs 263 million people and represents 17% of the country’s total GDP. It creates two major environmental problems: an abusive use of pesticides to maximise yields and a dependence on monsoon rains to water the crops. In order to guarantee access to fresh vegetables to villages whose family agriculture has been lost, we are planting Kitchen garden. 

They are grown without the use of pesticides, and they have a high yield because the seeds are native to the region.We also train in the manufacture and use of pesticides and fertilizers made from natural ingredients. Encouraging better agricultural practices also means acting for better nutrition and health.

Above all, we want to encourage a return to practices that are in harmony with nature and to invest in the sustainable use of the land

Training: Technological innovations for a cleaner future

Whether it’s using clean energy or reducing our impact on the planet, it’s up to us to innovate today to give tomorrow’s generations a cleaner world. Combining technological and ecological progress is possible, and making these innovations accessible to all is one of the greatest challenges of this century. Karuna-Shechen facilitates access to these solutions and uses them as opportunities to empower women, who then become agents of change and role models for future generations.

Our electric rickshaw project has multiple purposes: to reduce air pollution and to provide opportunities for women to earn a living wage. We train women to drive electric rickshaws in the city of Bodhgaya, the place where the Buddha awakened 2600 years ago. Today, most tourists are transported on gas-powered rickshaws, which are very polluting and noisy. Our electric rickshaws are a sustainable and ecological solution.

Finally, in Nepal, we train women to install and maintain solar panels. This project provides electricity to remote villages while respecting nature. The use of solar panels, a clean and sustainable energy source, makes it possible to replace the very dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps commonly used for indoor light. Overall, 600 households benefited from this innovative program in 2019!

Continuing to develop resilience and self-reliance in rural areas in India and Nepal is one of our primary missions.

Our actions are carried out in harmony with the environment, with respect for the natural habitats of the rural populations we support. Our strategy combines raising awareness and inspiring action to inform and empower people with sustainable tools. Our environmental programs therefore follow an integrated and inclusive approach: education, preservation, and training.