The dialogue content began with opening statements on Europe’s environmental issues. This informed the group of the eco challenges in the region less publicized in general media. For example, Germany’s Rhine River has the highest level of microplastic (not detectable by the eye) pollution measured in any river globally. A special presentation from the Swiss participants, led by Teny Pirri-Simononian of Webster College in Geneva, offered an extensive account of the rapidly declining Alpine glaciers, which are among the most sensitive glaciers in the world impacted by global warming. This has imminent consequences for the 14 million inhabitants in urban and rural villages at the base of the mountain range spanning eight countries. A statement by the delegate from Croatia showed the insidious reach of environmental pollution even in remote, highly pristine islands in the Adriatic Sea. His personal volunteer project involved cleaning the refuse on these islands from the careless disposal of waste.
 
As articulated in the conversation and presentations, the global north is significantly impacted by changes in the climate and environmental landscapes. It is documented that Europe’s leading ecological threat is industrialization: the burning of fossil fuels from coal power and nuclear plants, factories, and automobiles, as well as changes to water composition due to pesticide use, the introduction of hazardous substances from municipal sources, urban development/agriculture production and bio waste from sewage.

The dialogue’s participants reflected the groundswell of concerned European citizens and young people who say that to deal with these challenges a new mindset rooted in spiritual, ancient Earth practices and indigenous values is greatly needed. The group emphasized that the Earth’s living systems must be central to plans for human development when envisioning the future. 

The gathering content focused on the problems that arise as a result of disconnection from nature and what it means to renew a relationship with the Earth. Addressing the topic of disconnection, the delegate from Germany shared his ecological awakening. After participating in a four thousand person environmental protest of a German coal mining pit, he felt a reverent energy from the collective taking action for the planet. Another youth participant, a permaculture specialist and deep ecologist from the Netherlands, offered that restorative work is needed to help awaken a reconnection with Mother Earth among society. Others spoke to the problem of dualistic thinking, which allows for humans to see themselves separate from the Earth, not as a whole. In this regard, spiritual mentor, Sraddhalu Ranade emphasized the importance of stopping, especially in moments of agitation of critical global issues, to allow for Mother Earth to tell you what is needed —a principle necessary to respond appropriately.

Other proposed directions for rebalancing humanity’s relationship with the Earth included: reconnecting with the source of universal love through self-love, plant communication, the integration of feminine wisdom, growing from eco-awareness to eco-embodiment, as well as deconstructing language that defines and codifies nature with a mindset of domination.  

PHOTO BELOW:
GPIW SIDE EVENT AT THE NGO FORUM OF COP 23,
HELD IN THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' PAVILION