Ecojesuit network in South Asia, local action plans connecting to the global

Ecojesuit network in South Asia, local action plans connecting to the global

SM John Kennedy SJ

A 2021 assessment report showed that 27 of 35 states and union territories in India are highly vulnerable to extreme hydrological and meteorological (hydro-met) disasters and their compounded impacts. India is estimated to have suffered losses of almost USD 80 billions due to extreme climate events in the last two decades. (Source: Mohanty, Abinash, and Shreya Wadhawan. 2021. Mapping India’s Climate Vulnerability – A District Level Assessment. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water.)

We have only one earth to live in, to care for and to share with our future generations. But we indulge in unrestrained exploitation and destruction of the rare resources of Mother Earth for quick profits. We live an unchecked life of luxury and consumerism, causing the emission of enormous chemical wastes and industrial toxins. In agriculture we resort to disproportionate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, unethical experiments to produce genetically modified vegetables.

As a result our earth and its environment are terribly polluted and contaminated. Air, water and food on which we depend for our sustenance and subsistence are all tampered with. The earth is dangerously deformed and becoming increasingly unfit for the sustenance and continuance of life.

The mode of development being followed or blindly enforced is at the heart of today’s ecological crisis. We use science and technology as instruments to dominate and exploit nature. A capitalist, consumerist economy, industry and social organization promoted by the affluent countries and the powerful elite in the Third World countries determine the quality of environment we create. This leads to a few accumulating wealth and the poor and the earth becoming helpless victims.

The global Ecojesuit network, the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN) on ecology, was evolved and is involved in addressing this huge challenge of ecological crisis and take up eco-restoration activities through networking with other groups with similar aims.

Ecojesuit network in JCSA – connecting to the global

In the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (JCSA), there is an appointed Conference coordinator for the global Ecojesuit network under the Conference Secretariat for Ecology and Justice (CSEJ). This was formerly Jesuits in Social Action (JESA) South Asia in 1973 then re-named as Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) South Asia in 2019, and further re-named in 2022 as CESJ.

Each Province in the Conference has one Province Ecojesuit Coordinator with a few Jesuits and others as Ecology Commission members.

The Conference Coordinator animates and guides in the evolution and implementation of the action plans of the Provinces and regularly connects and meet with the province coordinators to share and plan together. There are also four zonal coordinators appointed for the South Zone, Central Zone, West Zone, and North Zone.

Action plans of the JCSA Provinces

For 2023-2024, the JCSA Provinces shared their action plans and the following list presents a collated summary of the action plans under different categories:

A. Community, Institution, and Energy related

  1. Reduce consumption – practice the principles of refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle
  2. Efficient waste management
  3. Plastic and pollution free campus
  4. Adopt alternative and natural energy sources
  5. Simple, eco-friendly personal and community lifestyle
  6. Integrated natural resources management
  7. Courses on Environmental science
  8. Training eco-audit teams and executing eco auditing
  9. Resource team for eco-awareness and eco-spirituality
  10. Making our campus a biodiversity campus
  11. Promote sustainable development through regeneration of natural resources by mobilization, promotion of non-conventional energy and judicious use of natural resources especially water, forest and land
  12. Promote environment-friendly practices in all our institutions
  13. Build biogas cum toilets for rural families

B. Awareness/Motivation to students and people in various ministries

  1. Organize competitions and encourage creative presentations
  2. Reconnect to nature by exposure visits
  3. Promote tree plantation, protect the planted trees
  4. Promote gardening and horticulture
  5. Display relevant awareness materials in and around our campuses
  6. Organize cultural programs, debates, among others
  7. Produce and disseminate clippings, snippets, short videos, among others
  8. Propagate through the social media
  9. Promote indigenous food, medicines
  10. Organize eco-week celebrations
  11. Create awareness and conscientize communities for conservation and regeneration of natural resources, sustainable livelihoods and participation in the care of the common home
  12. Make use of existing eco-centres like Anglade Institute of Natural History at Shembaganur in Kodaikanal, Xavier Solar at Irudayakulam in Tirunelveli District, Tarumitra in Patna, Eco-watershed management training centre at Hivrekorda, among others
  13. Promote awareness on climate change and COP 28
  14. Forming and strengthening eco-clubs
  15. Conducting cultural activities, assemblies, exhibitions on COP28 and other themes
  16. Linking celebrations and festivals to have a COP28 theme and other themes
  17. Motivate farmers to take up organic/natural farming

C. Spirituality

  1. Promote meditation and Ignatian spirituality
  2. Organize eco-retreats, eco-liturgies, recollections
  3. Prepare, publish, and distribute resource materials
  4. Set eco-spirituality network to bring about a true in-depth ‘conversion’ and transformation in attitudes of individuals, communities and institutions regarding creation
  5. Use ecology as a platform for dialogue among religions and cultures

D. Agro-ecology

  1. Promote organic farming
  2. Support farmers and natives
  3. Organize organic farming workshops, farmer schools
  4. Promote environment inclusive agricultural development
  5. Ensure the efficient management of land and water resources
  6. Propagate of biodiversity centres at different spots

E. Networking

  1. Network with eco-activists, NGOs, and peoples’ movements
  2. Identify and attend to the local ecological issues
  3. Create eco-care centres
  4. Organize eco justice campaign, rally
  5. Involve in advocacy and policy level interventions
  6. Promote the best eco-practices

Why is this urgent?

Addressing ecological concerns is our livelihood issue. It is now or never. If we do not intervene and act now, we will not have a healthy life and sustainable environment. There will be no safe home for the future generation of humans. Hence, let us collectively get involved in the protection of our Mother Earth. We all flourish or perish together.

SM John Kennedy SJ is the JCSA Conference Coordinator for the global Ecojesuit network and can be reached through his email jkkenny@gmail.com.

This article is an excerpt from Ecojesuits of South Asia, published in the October-December 2023 issue of INI, an online magazine published every three months by the Madurai Province in Tamil Nadu, India. An Inigo Year Initiative, INI was launched on 31 July 2021, the feast day of Saint Ignatius during the Ignatian Year, the 500th anniversary of his conversion.

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