“Sokka Gakkai is a Buddhist grassroots network. I’m specifically working on climate change, the environment, and biodiversity. That’s why I had a specific interest in the workshop today,” she said in an interview with the WCC.
Gooesens-Ishii moderated a session at the 15 April meeting titled “Caring for the Earth, Transforming Lives: Linking Faith & Natural Regeneration” hosted by the WCC and other partner organizations.
“The workshop aligns very much also with our values and vision, along with ecosystem restoration,” Goosens-Ishii said after the interfaith gathering that discussed the technique called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, or FMNR.
It is no coincidence that Soka Gakkai International has offices at the Ecumenical Centre, and interfaith work is deeply woven into its agenda.
Geneva Interfaith Forum
“We are also part of the Geneva Interfaith Forum in which there is the WCC Lutheran World Federation, Franciscans International, the Dominicans Brahmakumaris, and others,” said Goosens-Ishii.
“The workshop was a deep dive into FMNR. And I found that really enriching and interesting,” she noted.
As a representative for a faith-based organization, she valued the connections made by many speakers between the techniques precisely and how they were implemented at the local level with the faith communities.
“It went even more profoundly with their concrete examples to engage in mindset change. I so appreciated that it was interfaith.”
Re-greening the earth
At the session moderated by Goosens-Ishii, Ole von Uexkull, executive director of Right Livelihood, said he was on a quest to create a global movement to re-green the earth.
“What will it take to create a global movement to re-green the earth?” said von Uexkull, addressing the participants towards the end of the meeting in which he said his organization wants to work with change-makers like the WCC.
Goosens-Ishii said Soka Gakkai International wants to be part of that.
“In the future, I’m thinking of really expanding the discussion in other regions, like maybe, say, Asia, Southeast Asia, and have more representatives as well from there who are interested in implementing in the future,” she said.
The Soka Gakkai International representative said what was expressed at the workshop differed from the dominant view.
“But I think there is increasing awareness, looking at really going back to Indigenous people and local communities in ways of dealing with the Earth and the soil and agricultural practices in a way that can respond to the climate effects they are seeing,” said Goosens-Ishii.
During the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022, Soka Gakkai International promoted youth participation and reforestation, and amplified the call for climate justice by faith leaders.
Speaking at a side event there, she said, “Although the loss and damage due to climate change are finally higher on the agenda, deep divisions remain on how to address them.
“I believe faith communities have a unique moral voice in calling on world leaders to take the decisions needed to move to a just transition for all humanity while also embodying a resilient spirit, providing community support and moving towards a just transition at the local level.”
Photo gallery of the seminar “Caring for the Earth, Transforming Lives: Linking Faith & Natural Regeneration”
Image Credit: Ivars Kupcis/WCC, Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC, Ivars Kupcis/WCC