Dubai: The mood was electric and the message was inspiring as thousands of UAE residents listened intently and pledged to support Indian spiritual guru and environmental advocate Sadhguru’s global Save Soil movement– at Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday.
Sadhguru, who spoke for over an hour at the event organised by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) and the Conscious Planet Movement to Save Soil (Conscious Planet), was both foreboding and re-assuring. He said, according to experts, the world only has 40 to 50 years of agricultural topsoil left, threatening food production as early as 2045, when the world may experience food production decrease by 45 per cent while it is expected to feed 9.3 billion people.
On a positive and encouraging note, Sadhguru underlined the situation can still be reversed if people around the world will act now. He said people and governments must work to ensure that topsoil – the first 10 to 15 inches of the soil – must contain enough organic content. Sadhguru told the audience – who represent various nationalities – to call upon leaders and experts to take strong action for soil conservation. He underlined: “We need to leave rich soil for our children and the future generations.”
Joining Sadhguru at the event were Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence; Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Indian Ambassador Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Consul General Dr Aman Puri, and other dignitaries.
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‘Make it happen now’
Using time as a metaphor, Sadhguru said everyone is chasing time. And this pursuit of time must be “profound, pleasant, and impactful.”
“Don’t wait for tomorrow, make it (soil conservation) happen now,” Sadhguru underlined, adding: “Every human being has limited time and we have to use it for things that really matter – to make it profound, pleasant and impactful.
Sadhguru noted one positive indication is what the UAE government is doing. He explained: “When you add organic content to sand it becomes soil, but if you remove organic content from soil, it becomes sand. What the UAE is doing is adding organic content to soil – converting the desert into arable land.”
He challenged the estimated 10,000 people in the audience to contribute in their own conscious way “to save our soil and the planet”.
“Save Soil is not the sole mission of Sadhguru. It is your mission too. Save soil – let’s make it happen. This is not only a one-day commitment. We have covered 60 days of the 100-day campaign, the UAE is the 74th nation that has signed the commitment – make the world talk about soil then we can reach four billion people and no government will not ignore to save soil,” he underlined.
Sadhguru also praised the MOCCAE and the UAE for take leadership in the environmental preservation in the region.
Love of nature
The Dubai event kicked off with an opening address by Sheikh Al Nahyan, who said: “Our observation of the alarming soil erosion around the world, and our desire to understand what we see, reminds me of the UAE’s most prominent environmentalist, our nation’s founder, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He had a deep love of nature. After Sheikh Zayed’s passing, our country’s concern for the environment continued to intensify so that now the UAE, led by the President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has established many environmental initiatives and organizations.”
“In the spirit of the love of nature, we must all continue to explore ways to improve how we plan, protect, manage, and use our natural resources. I also believe there is a strong connection between our spiritual values and how we care for the environment. Our spiritual values provide the moral imperative to ensure that all people in all countries can enhance their standard of living without acting in ways that will leave their future generations living and working in a barren environment,” Sheikh Al Nahyan underlined.
'Let’s all work together'
Before Sadhguru went up the stage, Almheiri gave a keynote speech. The MoCCAE minister noted: “In the UAE, we have developed several strategies and policies that aim not only to enhance food security but also to implement sustainable soil management systems. These include the National Food Security Strategy, the National Strategy to Combat Desertification, and the UAE General Environmental Policy. We also support the outcomes of COP26 that consider soil a vital component of sustainable farming systems.”
Almheiri underscored: “Let’s all work together to preserve our soil for the next generations. Because how we act today will determine what the whole world will eat tomorrow.”
‘We will make it happen’
Guinness World Record holder and Filipino sand artist Nathaniel Alapide was among the rapt audience who intently listened to Sadhguru. He told Gulf News: “As a sand artist, I’m inspired by his advocacy and movement to save the soil. I’m moved by Sadhguru’s commitment to use his influence to inspire people to commit to the environment. His challenge was clear: ‘The time to act is now’. For my part, I’m keen on reflecting his teachings in my arts.
Dubai resident Poonam Bajaj, who attended the event with her entire family, said they too will commit themselves to take heed of Sadhguru’s teachings. “After hearing personally Sadhguru speak, we are sincerely going to commit for this environment action.”