Greener habits for up to 24 million Sikhs

Jul 4, 2009

Religions promote ‘green’ values, attitudes and habits thanks to an ambitious global project

New Delhi –Sikh religious leaders representing thousands of gurdwaras, or temples around India and the world met today in New Delhi to discuss the greening of their houses of worship and schooling. The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are advising these Sikh leaders on how to lower their carbon footprint and protect the natural environment.

As a result, the leaders, among whom both the apex body Shiromani Gurdawara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) and the powerful Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) were fundamental to the agreement, adopted at the conference a five year greening plan., which includes a long-term commitment to transform their temples into ecologically sound buildings in terms of energy use, the types of building materials used and their means of transportation.  The leaders will also incorporate environmental education into Sikh education curricula. Already, the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, co-organiser of the conference, has created an organization, called ‘EcoSikh,’ to disseminate ‘green knowledge’ throughout communities.

“Throughout history religions have helped people and civilizations interpret and understand events around them and to respond to new challenges in light of their spiritual heritage and moral compass,” said Olav Kjorven, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP’s Director of Development Policy, in New Delhi for the conference. “Now, when we’re facing the challenge of securing a liveable planet for our children and safeguarding creation as we know it, the leadership of religions is indispensable."

The symbol of Sikhism is a sword which stands for the Sikh commitment to defend the weak, particularly widows and orphans. At the end of their three hundred year cycle dedicated to protecting the vulnerable, there are 24 million Sikhs around the world. Among other activities, they provide food to 30 million people a day through free kitchens in their temples. The new three hundred year cycle (starting from 1999) is committed to protecting Nature, and its impact on the vulnerable environment over the next generations may be equally impressive.

Immediately following the Sikh gathering, a group of Muslim leaders from around the world will convene in Istanbul, Turkey on 6-7 July. ARC and UNDP will be also there assisting with finding ways how they can contribute to greening the future.

“The Sikhs have always been unique in their combination of deep spirituality and immensely practical action. The 5Year Plan embodies all that is best in those two strands that make Sikhism the powerful force that it is and will be for the future,” said Martin Palmer, secretary general of ARC.

Contact Information

Alliance of Religions and Conservation: : Victoria Finlay on mobile +44 7960 111587 or
UNDP: Surekha Subarwal at or mobile +919810153924 or Stanislav Saling, +1 212 906 5296 or 
EcoSikh: RAJWANT SINGH/CHRIS BYRNES at Tel: +91 9015061225

UNDP Around the world