From 11 May to 15 May, the 8th Conference of the United Nations Day of Vesak took place in Bangkok, Thailand. The Day of Vesak is an important holiday in the Buddhist tradition, and has been an opportunity over the past eight years to discuss the role of international Buddhism with regards to a number of important global issues, including sustainable development. This year, the theme focused on “Buddhist Virtues in Socio-Economic Development”, with workshops covering everything from “Buddhist Leadership and Social and Economic Development” to “Wisdom for Awakening Society”.
During one of these workshops, focused on “Environmental Preservation and Restoration”, Dr. Colin Soskolne, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada), presented a paper on “The Earth Charter for Sustainable Community Development from a Buddhist Virtues’ Perspective”. In this work, he demonstrates the connections between the virtues of Buddhism and the four principles of the Earth Charter. He also discusses the role that Buddhism has had in the development of the Earth Charter, and the need for more widespread adoption of the Charter as a response to the current crises of the world.
Dr. Soskolne’s paper, along with the others from the conference, can be accessed at http://www.icundv.com/vesak2011/en/panelist.php (Dr. Soskolne’s paper is listed under Panel 3). The Earth Charter was also mentioned in the closing remarks of Dr. Colin Butler, chief moderator for the workshop, in its role “… as an accessible set of principles for environmental preservation and restoration.”