Soka Amazon Institute Affiliates with Earth Charter International in Inspiring Ceremony on World Environment Day

On 5 June, World Environment Day, a special ceremony was held in Manaus, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, called “Conscience and Action: Reconnecting to Life, Caring for the Planet,” during which the Soka Amazon Institute signed an agreement of affiliation with Earth Charter International (ECI). The agreement was signed by Luciano Nascimento, Director of the Institute, and Mirian Vilela, Executive Director of Earth Charter International. The event was organized with the aim of generating reflection and practical actions with a focus on the importance of actions each individual can do. This agreement builds on a relationship that has existed for more than two decades with Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and reinforces the desire to continue collaborating, now more specifically, with the Soka Amazon Institute through its work in environmental education and protection of nature.  

The Soka Amazon Institute is located in Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas, Brazil, within a Private Natural Heritage Reserve (RPPN) on the banks of where two major rivers, the Negro River and Solimões River, meet to form the Amazon River. 

The event counted with the participation of a special delegation from Japan led by Dr. Minoru Harada, President of Soka Gakkai International, in addition to seven other members, including Mr. Shinji Shimizu, Vice President and Ms. Yumiko Kasanuki, SGI Coordinator of Women’s Efforts, who came to Brazil to learn about the work of Institute Soka and visit Manaus. The event also featured Dr. Miguel Shiratori, President of Soka Gakkai International Brazil (BSGI) and representatives of universities, civil society organizations, companies, and the City of Manaus education department and BSGI volunteers. Dr. Mirian Vilela, ECI Executive Director, was accompanied by Cristina Moreno, Rose Inojosa and Waverli Neuberger, ECI Advisors.  

On Saturday, 3 June, an informal event was held involving various educational and experiential learning activities such as a walk in the forest, birdwatching and tree planting. The event featured the Seeds of Hope and Action exhibition, which is a joint project between SGI and ECI, to highlight the importance of agency and each individual action.  

On 5 June, a ceremony dedicated to World Environment Day was held. On that occasion, the Institute’s affiliation with ECI was signed, followed by a special tree planting ceremony.  

On 6 June, the “Conscience and Action Seminar: Reconnecting to Life, Caring for the Planet” took place, with expert panels from Institute Soka, the National Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA, by its acronym in Portuguese) and from the Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM, by its acronym in Portuguese), as well as a round table with Mirian Vilela, Cristina Moreno, Rose Inojosa and Waverli Neuberger, ECI Advisors, where they shared their experiences using the Earth Charter in different areas.  

ECI took this opportunity to pay homage to Soka Gakkai International for over two decades of collaboration and to its founder Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, for his leadership for over six decades and contributions to a more sustainable and peaceful world. In the words of Dr. Ikeda, founder of Soka Institute and Soka Gakkai International, sent for this specific occasion, he stated:  

“In the preamble of the Earth Charter there is an inspiring passage that says: “Human development is primarily about being more, not having more”.  

I think that “being more” means demonstrating, in a grand way, with a spirit of compassion and courage, the ideals of peace and coexistence, and the wisdom of creating value. In the Buddhist writings of the East, it says: “Then both the person and others will feel the joy of possessing wisdom and compassion” (OTT, p. 146).  

The movement driven by the Earth Charter and our movement for human revolution grounded in Buddhism are spiritually linked by common principles. In this context, I place my expectation and I am fully convinced that both institutions, together, addressing different themes and promoting educational activity with a focus on the younger generation, will expand the coexistence of nature and human beings, human coexistence, and joy in live with a magnanimous heart.”  

On this occasion, the director of the Soka Amazon Institute, Luciano Nascimento, shared the following reflection:  

“Allow me to make an analogy between the Soka Amazon Institute and the Sumaúma tree. As many here know, this tree is considered the giant of the Amazon, reaching 70 meters in height (equivalent to a 24-story building). Its top serves as shelter and protection for countless birds and insects. Its roots obtain water from the depths of the Amazonian soil and supply not only for itself, but to a whole range of other species around it. This unique feature makes it the “mother” of the forest, as the precious liquid of water is vital for the survival of every living being. In specific periods, when the roots reach a certain level of humidity, the tree releases this excess of water and irrigates its surroundings. We can say that Dr. Ikeda, in love with the Amazon, planted a Sumaúma seed called Soka Amazon Institute, overlooking the place of the confluence of the waters. This seed has been cultivated through the dedication and efforts of all of us who share the same ideal…”  

Picture credits: Brasil Seikyo Publishers