By Madhava Smullen for ISKCON News, April 2021
(From left to right) Bhumi Global co-founders SriVani Ganti, Gopal Lila Das (Gopal Patel), and Mat McDermott at the One Earth, One Family March in Rome in June 2015.
On Earth Day (April 22nd), as US President Joe Biden hosted a virtual summit of world leaders to address the global climate crisis, Bhumi Global, a new non-profit environmental organization based on Hindu principles of environmental care, was launched.
Bhumi Global builds on the work of the Bhumi Project. Launched in 2009 and housed at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies until August 2020, it became the leading global Hindu voice on the environment, mobilized tens of thousands of people for climate action, and ensured a Hindu presence in the international environmental movement. Over that time it was supported by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, GreenFaith and many other well-wishers and friends.
Bhumi Global Director Gopal-Lila Das (Gopal Patel) is also grateful for the support of Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. “Shaunaka Rishi Prabhu has been a mentor and a friend of mine for almost twenty years now, both personally and professionally,” he says. “And Bhumi Global wouldn’t exist without his kindness, generosity and support over the last twenty years.”
Gopal-Lila, who co-founded Bhumi Global with SriVani R. Yerramilli and Mat McDermott, adds, “I’m proud to serve as a Co-Founder and Director of this incredible organization that is close to my heart. Bhumi Global will honour the legacy of the Bhumi Project to engage, educate, and empower people and communities to address the triple environmental crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.”
Over the next few weeks and months, Bhumi Global will be announcing new board members and advisors, as well as details about the campaigns and projects it will be focusing on.
During the next year, the organization will also be reaching out to different Hindu organizations, partnering with them for various campaigns and projects.
“We look forward to working with ISKCON globally, as well as national ISKCON offices and individual temples,” Gopal-Lila says.
Bhumi Global’s website already lists several of the key initiatives it will be working on over the next twelve to eighteen months.
These include Bhumi Academy, a first-of-its-kind online learning portal where people can learn about Hindu environmental teachings and how to incorporate environmentally-friendly practices in their homes, temples and places of work.
Bhumi Global also aims to conduct the first-ever global survey on contemporary Hindu attitudes and approaches to environmental care. This data is crucial in order to develop effective messaging and campaigns to encourage increased Hindu environmental action.
Bhumi will also have a global Call to Action issued by the Hindu community on the importance of caring for Mother Earth. Endorsed by major Hindu leaders, organizations, communities and individuals, it will be the largest Hindu environmental petition ever issued.
Meanwhile Bhumi Global will continue its advocacy in international forums, such as the annual UN climate negotiations and as co-chair of the UN Multi-faith Advisory Council, to ensure Hindu views and perspectives are heard at the highest places in society.
Finally, Bhumi will set up Councils in countries with large Hindu populations to develop and coordinate grassroots environmental activism. The organization plans to initially work in Australia, Canada, India, the UK and US, with longer-term plans to expand to countries like Guyana, Nepal, Trinidad & Tobago, Mauritius, and South Africa.
“On Earth Day, the Biden administration made a very strong commitment to reducing emissions,” Gopal Lila says, referring to U.S. President Joe Biden’s commitment for the US to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% below its 2005 levels by 2030.
“I think the broader narrative is that in some ways, the momentum is moving in the right direction for global action on climate change,” Gopal continues. “Faith-based organizations are being asked to step up in very significant and meaningful ways. And Bhumi Global would love to work with ISKCON and other Hindu organizations to see how we can help support and facilitate their environmental leadership on a local, national and international level, to care for Mother Earth.”