Worldviews of Nature Project

African women and children

Following the publication of a book by UNESCO entitled Universalism and Ethical Values for the Environment, which was co-authored in partnership with the Sikh Human Rights Group (SHRG) and the Eubios Ethics Institute, it was decided by the SHRG and the Eubios Ethics Institute to create an online platform that would seek to encourage different worldviews of nature and to integrate the differing perspectives, philosophies and ideas into the United Nations work on sustainable development, which is now collectively referred to as the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, the world views of nature project seeks to explore and integrate indigenous and traditional knowledge, wisdoms, ideas, philosophies and practices that have stood the test of time into the UN SDGs in order to influence people from different cultures to adopt more ecologically sound and environmentally friendly practices into their daily routines.

The SHRG facilitates the worldviews of nature project by providing access to the vast UN system and integrating the project with the work of the UNs, which in this instance is the UN SDGs. We also create partnerships for Eubios with our international affiliates such as the Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems in South Africa.

For more information on our worldviews of nature project please click on the following web addresses:

https://www.eubios.info/networks/repository_of_ethical_world_views_of_nature

https://www.eubios.info/sdg_curriculum_resources

The Eubios Ethics Institute

Man carrying greenery

The Eubios Ethics Institute is a non-profit organisation that aims to stimulate the international discussion of ethical issues, and how we may use technology in ways consistent with a ‘good life’ (equ-bios). It aims at integrated and cross-cultural approaches to bioethics and has a global network of members and partners.

The Eubios Ethics Institute was founded by Dr Darryl Macer (who currently sits on the SHRGs board of directors) in 1990 in Christchurch, New Zealand and in Tsukuba Science City, Japan. It was one of the first bioethics centres to be founded in Asia in 1990. In 2005 Bangkok (Thailand) was added as a third location.

Since 1990 the Eubios Ethics Institute has cooperated with many individuals and groups, including UNESCO and UNU, Asian Bioethics Association, AUSN, youth networks, in its ongoing endeavour to empower people to be free thinkers when it comes to changing the world, motivating the youth to be leaders, and honing the skills of human rights and environmental professionals.

The Eubios Ethics Institute is determined to encourage practical activities built upon the results of research to implement policy, consistent with the goals and needs of various communities around the world. Their web site was created in conjunction with the SHRG to disseminate information and now contains thousands of files. Since 1990 they have also hosted the websites of other independent environmental entities and reports.

They are open to collaboration and consultation on the full range of topics in peace and understanding, applied ethics, youth empowerment, bioethics research, environmental ethics, and in the past have been involved in contracted research for a wide variety of areas including bioethics education across more than twenty countries of the world, community engagement for genetically modified organisms, community engagement for the Haplotype Mapping (HapMap) project in human genetics, informed consent, and public attitudes towards life, science and technology. Although most activities have been conducted in Asia and the Pacific, projects have also been undertaken in every continent.

To learn more about the Eubios Ethics Institute and the invaluable that they are doing please click on the following web address:

https://www.eubios.info/home

Environment

Looking at view

All human beings depend on the environment in which we life. Therefore, a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is integral to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including our right to life, health, food, water and sanitation.

Without a healthy environment we would be unable to fulfil our aspirations. In other words, we would be unable to access even the most fundamental standards that are synonymous with human dignity.

Therefore and as can clearly be seen from the above, the environment is far too important to be left just to international bodies such as the United Nations to find inspirational solutions. However, don’t worry most civilisations, religions, cultures and belief systems have concepts, positions or views on how we as humans interact with the environment and how we can solve the global environmental crisis. However, it is important to bear in mind that their concepts, positions and views may not be the same and their intentions may also not be the same. Nevertheless, the Sikh Human Rights Group is committed to promoting the wide variety of cultural and traditional perspectives that will help us to solve global environmental issues at a national, international and at a truly global level.

Nevertheless, ethical principles are derived from theories, revelations and inspirations. Which in turn give rise to values and practices. Consequently, our behaviour towards the environment and sustainability is very much influenced by our civilisation or native belief system.

Therefore, in recent years the recognition of the links between human rights and the environment has greatly increased around the globe. The number and scope of international and domestic laws, judicial decisions and academic studies on the relationship between human rights and the environment are growing rapidly. Which in turn are broadly theorised in order to answer the same set of leading questions.

Leading Environmental Questions

Evolutionary perspective

What is the status of the human in the complexities of evolution? Is it as the ultimate perfection of divine creation, a sudden and independent emergence upon earth, or was it a gradual evolution through species or another theory/hypothesis/revelation?

Our relationship with other life forms

What is the status of the human to other life forms? Are we the masters of all other species or are we simply another species in the scheme of life? The only species with a conscience or simply another transient species in evolution?

Human relations to the environment

What forms the basis of the human relationship with our environment? For instance, is it one of a guardian, a custodian, a symbiotic dependency, a dependent upon the earth and the environment, a species for which all has been created, a species with a divine or inherent right to exploit all that exists for its own individual or collective advantage, an instrumentalist relation or a species without any significance?

Human emotional interactions with the environment

Is the interaction of the human to the environment one of fear, love, aware or a relationship without any tangible emotion?

Is the earth living?

Is the earth and the environment living entities with a conscious ability to protect itself against human led destruction or is the earth an inert entity without and ability to survive destruction? Whilst you may think this is simple question in your eyes it is extremely important to remember that other cultures and civilisations may have a different perspective.

Doomsday, living and punishing earth theory

Is there a language of doomsday (end of word, scorch earth theory) or a theory of for instance that earth will punish humans, or a rationalist argument such as the environment will become unsustainable and therefore humans will die of need, scarcity etc…?

This may seem like an unsustainable argument, but it is important to remember that the way we life our lives or our modern civilisations have not been around since the dawn of time. The world is every changing and progressing but if history tell us anything it is not to take our current standard of living for granted as it may all be gone in an instance. Whether its caused by an asteroid hitting the earth or an environmental impact such as a tsunami or flood which has been caused by global warming.

Pollution
Ring formation

(Isle of Skye, UK, Credit: Robert Lukeman)

7 Ways in which the United Nations is making a difference

(1) Seeking solutions to climate change

Climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution. The United Nations has been at the forefront in assessing the science and forging a political solution. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which brings together 2,000 leading climate change scientists, issues comprehensive scientific assessments every five or six years: in 2007, it concluded with certainty that climate change was occurring and that human activities were a primary cause. The 196 members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are negotiating agreements to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change and help countries adapt to its effects. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and other UN agencies have been at the forefront in raising awareness.

(2) Helping countries to cope with climate change

The UN helps developing countries to respond to the challenges of global climate change. Thirty-nine UN bodies have formed a partnership to deal comprehensively with the problem. For instance, the Global Environment Facility, which brings together 10 UN agencies, funds projects in developing countries. As the financial mechanism of the Climate Convention, it allocates about $550 million per year in projects on new technologies, energy efficiency, renewable energies and sustainable transportation.

(3) Protecting the environment

The United Nations is working to solve global environmental problems. As an international forum for building consensus and negotiating agreements, the UN is tackling global problems such as ozone layer depletion, toxic waste, loss of forests and species, and air and water pollution. Unless these problems are addressed, markets and economies will not be sustainable in the long term, as environmental losses are depleting the natural capital on which growth and human survival are based.

(4) Protecting the Ozone later

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have been instrumental in highlighting the damage caused to Earth’s ozone layer. As a result of a treaty known as the Montreal Protocol, countries have been phasing out chemicals that cause the depletion of the ozone layer and replacing them with safer alternatives. This will spare millions of people from contracting skin cancer because of exposure to increased ultraviolet radiation.

(5) Providing safe drinking water

During the first UN decade on water (1981-1990), more than a billion people gained access to safe drinking water for the first time in their lives. By 2002, another 1.1 billion people had clean water. In 2003, the International Year of Freshwater raised awareness of the importance of protecting this precious resource. The second international water decade (2005-2015) aims to reduce by half the number of people without a source of clean drinking water.

(6) Tackling fish stock depletion

Ninety per cent of major marine commercial fish stocks are exploited to their sustainable limits or beyond. FAO monitors global fisheries production and the status of wild fish stocks and works with countries to improve the management of fisheries, stamp out illegal fishing, promote responsible international fish trade and protect fragile species and environments.

(7) Banning toxic chemicals

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants seeks to rid the world of some of the most dangerous chemicals ever created. Ratified by 179 countries, the Convention targets 23 hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals that can kill people, damage the nervous and immune systems, cause cancer and reproductive disorders and interfere with child development. Other UN conventions and action plans help to preserve biodiversity, protect endangered species, combat desertification, clean up seas and curb cross-border movements of hazardous wastes.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development

What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development is the idea that human societies must live and meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The official definition of sustainable development was developed for the first time in the Brundtland Report in 1987. In other words, sustainable development is a way of organisation today’s society so that it can exist in the long term. This means taking into account both the imperatives of the present and those of the future, such as the preservation of the environment and natural resources or social and economic equity.

Furthermore, the Brundtland Report, warned for the very first time of the negative environmental consequences of economic growth and globalisation and tried to find possible solutions to the problems caused by industrialisation and population growth.

How to achieve Sustainable Development?

Many of the pressing issues currently faced by mankind, such as climate change, water scarcity, inequality, hunger and food security, can only be resolved at a global community level. In other words, by promoting sustainable development: a commitment to social progress, environmental balance and economic growth.

Therefore, as part of the sustainable development roadmap, the United Nations approved the 2030 Agenda, which contains the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In other words, the SDGs are an international call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people living on the planet enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

The 17 SDGs are integrated – that is, they recognise that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development in any form must balance environmental, social and economic and sustainability.

The Sustainable Development Goals are important, world changing objectives that will require cooperation between State Governments, international organisations and world leaders. Therefore, it seems impossible that you as an average person can make an impact yes?

NO! Change can only happen if it starts with you. Seriously. Every human on earth – even the laziest or most indifferent person – is part of the solution. However, fortunately there are some extremely easy things that we can all adopt into our daily routines that, if we all do them together, will make a big difference to our future and the future of generations to come.

Love our planet

Things that you can do from the sofa:

  • Save electricity by turning off your lights or plugging appliances into a power strip and turning them off completely when not in use, including your TV and computer.
  • Stop paper bank statements and pay all of your bills online or via a mobile app.
  • Share don’t just like. For instance, if you see an interesting post on social media about racial inequality or climate change, share it so that other people in your network can see it too.
  • Speak up! Ask your local and national authorities to engage in initiatives that don’t harm people or the planet.
  • Report online bullies. For example, if you notice harassment online don’t just scroll past it thinking that somebody else will report it. Flag that person or group of people!
  • Stay informed. Follow your local news and search for civil society organisations and NGOs in your local area who are seeking to make a difference.

Things that you can do from home:

  • Let your clothes dry naturally instead of running a machine.
  • Take short showers instead of baths. Bathtubs require gallons more water than a 5 – 10 minute shower.
  • Freeze produce that is going out of date and your leftover food. You can do this with take- away or delivered food. This will not only save food but money too!
  • Prevent landfills from growing by recycling paper, plastics, glass and aluminium (food tins).
  • Try to buy minimally packaged goods.
  • Adjust your thermostat to the season.
  • Replace old appliances with energy efficient models.
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs.
  • If you have the option why not install solar panels in your garden or on the roof of your house. This will reduce your electricity bills and provide you with some interesting party conversation!
  • Get a rug. Carpets and rugs retain a lot of heat and therefore help to keep you house warm.

Things you can do on the move

  • Shop local. Supporting local businesses not only keeps people employed but it also means that lorries don’t have to travel long distances to get to you.
  • Shop smart – plan meals, use shopping lists and avoid impulse buys. Don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need, particularly for perishable items.
  • Buy funny fruit – many fruits and vegetables are thrown away because of their size, shape or colour or because they are otherwise ‘not right’. However, buying these perfectly goof funny fruits, at your local market or elsewhere, utilises food that might otherwise go to waste.
  • Bike, walk or take public transport. Save the car trips for when you’ve got a big group.
  • Use a refillable water bottle and coffee cup. This not only saves waste, but it may also save you some money.
  • Bring your own bags when you shop. Pass on the plastic bag and start carrying your own reusable bags for life or totes.
  • Take fewer napkins. You don’t need handfuls and handfuls of napkins when you eat your takeout so just take what you need.

Things you can do at work

  • Mentor young people. Its thoughtful, inspiring and a powerful way to guide someone towards a better more sustainable future.
  • Women earn 10 to 30 percent less than men for the same work. Pay inequality persists everywhere. Raise your voice and support equal pay for equal work.
  • Make sure your company or the company you work for uses energy efficient heating and cooling technology.
  • Stay informed! Read about workers in other countries and business practices. Talk to your colleagues about these issues.
  • Raise your voice against any type of discrimination in your office. Everyone is equal regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, social background or physical abilities.
  • Examine and change everyday decisions. Can you recycle at your workplace? Is your company buying from merchants engaging in harmful ecological practices?
  • Know your workplace rights to ensure that you and your colleagues have access to justice.

We don't have time

Intro

What are human rights?

Human rights are rights that we possess simply because we exist as human beingsin the realms of political power. In other words, they are not granted by any State Government or any national or international institution. Therefore, these universal rights are inherent to us all, regardless of our nationality, sex, ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other personal attribute or status.

Human rights range from the most fundamental for example our right to life to those that make life worth living, such as a right to food, education, work or to earn a reasonable standard of living, health, liberty and our right to live in a healthy and sustainable environment. To name just a few.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1948 (just after the conclusion of World War 2), was the first legal document to ensure that our fundamental human rights were universally protected. The UDHR, which will turn 73 in 2021, continues be the foundation of all international human rights laws. Its 30 Articles provide the principles and the building blocks of current and future human rights Conventions, Treaties and other primary and secondary instruments of international law.

The UDHR, together with the 2 Covenants – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) – make up the International Bill of Rights.

What does the Sikh Human Rights Group do to protect your human rights?

Sikh Human Rights Group (SHRG) is an NGO with Special Consultative Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). ECOSOC is the principal organ that coordinates the economic, social, environmental and related work of the 14 United Nations specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions. It serves as the central forum for discussing international economic, and social and environmental issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system.

ECOSOC also remains the only primary UN body with a formal framework for NGO participation. This accreditation framework benefits both the United Nations and SHRG when are Human Rights Officers and affiliate organisations are working to uphold your most basic human rights. For instance, as stated by Resolution 1996/31 on the ‘Consultative relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organisations’:

‘Consultative arrangements are to be made, on the one hand, for the purpose of enabling the Council or one of its bodies to secure expert information or advice from organizations having special competence in the subjects for which consultative arrangements are made, and, on the other hand, to enable international, regional, sub-regional and national organizations that represent important elements of public opinion to express their views.’

Therefore, SHRG contributes to ECOSOCs essential mandate or work by:

• Providing expert analysis and opinions on human rights issues directly from the field. By promoting a pluralistic approach to issues at the United Nations;
• Serving as an early warning agent;
• Helping to implement international agreements;
• Helping to monitor international agreements;
• Helping to raise awareness of global human rights issues; and
• By playing a major role in advancing the United Nations goals and objectives.

However, on the other hand ECOSOC provides SHRG with the opportunity to be heard by a truly global audience and to contribute to its agenda. For instance, owing to our Special Consultative Status SHRG can:

• Attend UN international conferences and events;
• Participate in debates, interactive dialogues, panel discussions and informal meetings;
• Submit written and oral statements at these events;
• Organise side events which focus on our specialist areas of expertise;
• Enter UN premises; and
• Network and lobby with a wide variety of UN personnel, official government delegations, prominent international institutions and NGO representatives working in the same or a similar field.

SHRGs participation at the United Nations Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is the principal UN intergovernmental body responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights. It is composed of 47 Member States and meets for at least three sessions each year in Geneva.

Its role includes addressing violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, the promotion of respect for human rights for all, and effective coordination and mainstreaming of human rights within the UN system.

During a given session (regular sessions), the Council considers the activities of its subsidiary human rights procedures and mechanisms and may organize panel discussions and special events to enhance dialogue and mutual understanding on specific issues.

Outside its normal sessions, the Council may also hold special sessions related to country-specific or thematic issues.

Therefore, and despite the fact that the UNHRC is not a subsidiary of ECOSOC only NGOs with Consultative Status can be accredited to participate in the Human Rights Council’s sessions:

Therefore, SHRG can amongst various other matters:

• Attend and observe all proceedings of the Human Rights Council with the exception of the Council deliberations under the Complaints Procedure;
• Submit written statements to the Human Rights Council;
• Make oral interventions to the Human Rights Council;
• Participate in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 United Nations Member States once every four years;
• Participate in debates, interactive dialogues, panel discussions and informal meetings; and
• Organize ‘parallel events’ on issues relevant to the work of the Human Rights Council.

What does Sikh Human Rights Group believe?

The Sikh Human Rights Group (SHRG) promotes pluralism, environmental sustainability, diversity, human rights and responsibilities. It is based on Sikh philosophy. With emphasis on pluralism SHRG champions good intentions and diverse approaches in different civilisations, cultures and Peoples.

All human beings and communities co-existing with dignity and in harmony with each other and with nature and with the cosmos as taught by Sikhi.

Therefore, SHRG promotes the principles of Sikh philosophy in the fields of voluntary sector activities, research and human rights work through projects and by supporting, funding and working in partnership with other organisations and individuals regardless of their belief, religion, race or nationality.

What do we mean by pluralism?

In order for us to unearth the meaning and the significance of pluralism it is extremely important that we first turn our attentions to considering the ethical philosophy of universalism.

Universalism: Sikh Human Rights Group (SHRG) believes that there is tendency, amongst the international human rights community and prominent international organisations such as the United Nations, towards universalising ethical values and attempting to form Conventions, Treaties, Regulations and Agreements on the basis of assuming a universal set of collective values.

In other words, universalism is the idea that one size fits all or that one set of International Conventions, Treaties, Regulations and Agreements are directly applicable to all countries around the world and are the key to solving all of the human rights issues around the globe. However, SHRG believes that this model fails to consider the indisputable fact that different countries have different approaches to the political, economic, social, environmental and historical factors that influence their governance or societies.

Pluralism: Therefore, pluralism is the view that in liberal democracies power is (or should be) dispersed amongst a variety of economic and ideological pressure groups and is not (or should not be) held by a single elite group or group of elites.

In other words, pluralism assumes that diversity is beneficial to society and that autonomy should be enjoyed by disparate functional or cultural groups within society, including religious groups, trade unions, professional organisations, non-governments human rights organisations and ethnic minorities.

Therefore, SHRG does not demand that prominent international organisations such as the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies immediately adopts a pluralistic view of the world. However, we do urge relevant office holders to consider the benefits of adopting a pluralistic approach when it comes to the formulation, enactment and implementation of international human rights Conventions, Treaties, Regulations and Agreements around the globe.

To learn more about pluralism please see SHRG current work on the Environment or SHRG World Views of Nature Project.

Diversity Intro

What is Diversity?

Diversity means understanding that each individual person is unique and recognising, empowering, respecting and appreciating all our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

SHRG- Diversity and Pluralism

The Sikh Human Rights Group (SHRG) promotes pluralism, environmental sustainability, diversity, human rights and responsibilities. It is based on Sikh philosophy. With emphasis on pluralism SHRG champions good intentions and diverse approaches in different civilisations, cultures and Peoples.
All human beings and communities co-existing with dignity and in harmony with each other and with nature and with the cosmos as taught by Sikhi. Therefore, SHRG promotes the principles of Sikh philosophy in the fields of voluntary sector activities, research and human rights work through projects and by supporting, funding and working in partnership with other organisations and individuals regardless of their belief, religion, race or nationality.

For SHRG we put a lot of emphasis on the importance of Pluralism when looking at Diversity. Pluralism is the recognition and affirmation of diversity within an organisation, which is seen to permit the peaceful coexistence of different interests, convictions, and lifestyles. We at SHRG believe diversity extends further than tolerating one another’s differences but is living in peaceful co-existence with each other and celebrating what makes us different.

SHRG work on Diversity with the United Nations

All human beings and communities co-existing with dignity and in harmony with each other and with nature. SHRG strives to achieve Diversity by encouraging International bodies such as the UN to use language that is inclusive of all and inspires co-existence rather than mere tolerance. SHRG believes that there is tendency, amongst the international human rights community and prominent international organisations such as the United Nations, towards universalising ethical values and attempting to form Conventions, Treaties, Regulations and Agreements on the basis of assuming a universal set of collective values.

The SHRG is working on the United Nations Declaration on Diversity, this idea was formed during the run up to the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, 2001. SHRG started with the proposition that Racial Parity is pointless without Cultural Parity; this was then taken up by a number of countries. Cultural diversity became a big issue and major component of the Durban Declaration and Plan of action. The Declaration represents the commitments arising from the complex global dialogue which took place. It addresses past manifestations as well as contemporary forms of racial discrimination. The Programme of Action is a roadmap illustrating how the international community will follow up on these commitments. It indicates the steps to be taken to put an end to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and to prevent their future occurrence.

To promote the principles of Sikh philosophy in the fields of voluntary sector activities, research and human rights work through projects and by supporting, funding and working in partnership with other organisations and individuals regardless of their belief, religion, race or nationality.

To learn more about pluralism please see SHRG current work on the Environment or SHRG World Views of Nature Project.

The following are conventions and declarations that are of interest to Diversity

To access the UN conventions and Treaties on various forms of diversity click here, or have a look at a few that are listed below: are on this page and some sited below

•   Discrimination (Employment) Convention 1958
•   International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial discrimination
•   Declaration on Race and Racial prejudice
•   Convention Against Discrimination in Education
•   Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion and Belief
•   Report of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
•   UN Principles for Older People 
•   Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
•   Optional Protocol to the Convention on the elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women
•   UN Women