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Sadhguru at UN on World Water Day – Water for Sustainable Development

Sadhguru at UN on World Water Day – Water for Sustainable Development


Speaker: Excellency’s, distinguished participants,
ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start by thanking the president of the general assembly
His Excellency Mr. Miroslav Laichik for the invitation to moderate the panel on contribution of the water decade
to the implementation of water related STG. Addressing challenges and seizing opportunities
through strengthening corporation and partnerships. I now invite our chief speaker Mr. Sadhguru-
a yogi, mystic and visionary to deliver his remarks. Mr. Sadhguru is one of India’s fifty most
influential people, established Isha Foundation- a non-profit volunteer run organization
operating worldwide. Mr. Sadhguru has initiated several projects
for social revitalization- education and environment through which millions of people have been
given the means to overcome poverty, improve their quality of life and achieve community
based sustainable development. In the fall of 2017, Mr. Sadhguru initiated
Rally for Rivers, a nation-wide campaign aiming to implement sustainable and long-term policy
changes to revitalize India’s severely depleted rivers, which found great support amongst
India’s leadership and the people. You have the floor Mr. Sadhguru, please.
Sadhguru: Good afternoon everybody. The first and foremost is to make everybody on this
planet to understand that water is not a commodity, it’s the life making material. It’s the stuff we are made of.
Over two-thirds of the planet is water, two thirds of our body is water. But where is the water gone?
Actually water has not gone anywhere. Whatever water we had on this planet a million
years ago, we still have the same amount, it’s not gone out of the atmospheric space
but it’s just not where we need it. We are not able to service the people with
the needed water and what are the reasons, why is it happening to us like this?
I would limit myself to the situation in India. And in many ways, this situation is relevant
to all tropical regions of this planet. India has been always referred to as “land
of seven rivers” but we have over seven hundred rivers. It’s a very richly veined land in terms of rivers. But in the
last fifty years, the depletion of rivers on an average has been nearly sixty percent of depletion of water has
happened in the rivers. Why is this so, what are the causes? There are many things to do but
fundamentally we must understand, there are two types of rivers glacier fed rivers and forest fed
rivers. In India only four percent of the river water is glacier fed, rest, fortunately is forest fed.In the rest of
the world, seventy-two percent of the rivers are forest fed, so that is also a fortune. Why I am saying
it’s fortunate is because we can put back the forest, we can put back the vegetation but we cannot just bring
down snow whenever we feel like it. It’s important that we need to understand like a country
like India, we have an average of forty-five to fifty days of rain or precipitation.What comes down in forty-five
days, we are required to hold it in the land for three-hundred-and-sixty-five days. If this has to
happen, it doesn’t matter, who says what and thousand different opinions but fundamentally you can hold the
water in the land only if the soil has the necessary organic content and there is vegetation. Generally, it is
understood that to call soil as soil, a minimum of two percent organic content should be there but today
nearly twenty-five percent of India, the organic content is 0.05 percent.
That means we are converting rich soil into sands. That means desertification is happening at a rapid
pace.I am not an environmentalist, I am not a scientist nor am I a policy maker but my engagement with life
around me has been from a very early childhood. My involvement with forests, mountains and
rivers has been very active right through my life and with great concern I have been
watching particularly in the last twenty-five years, how the rivers that I have known since
my childhood, how they have depleted. Particularly in the last seven years the depletion
is so sharp and alarming, that we invested a certain amount of time and effort and energies
to study these things and see how to revive this and made a policy document,
a recommendation, policy recommendation. Seven-hundred-and-sixty page recommendation
to the federal government in India. It is heartening to see that there is a… a broad
understanding about this, in state governments and in the central government. When we presented the
policy document to the Prime Minister, at 6:15 in the evening, last October 2nd, next day
morning 11:30 we got a call from the Prime Minister’s office, saying that they want a soft copy
because Prime Minister has formed a special group to look into the policy. So, obviously the enormity and
the urgency of what it needs to be done is definitely gotten into the minds of policy makers in at least
in India. I am sure it is on… cons… with the concern with which everybody is speaking from various nations,
this urgency and enormity of the situation has sunk into all of us.So we know what is the problem.
We generally know what is the solution, it may be little more specific to each nation and each geographical
location but generally we know what is the solution. Now the problem is implementation.The problem
is getting everybody’s cooperation. The problem is the size of the solution (Laughs).
How do we put it on the ground? This is a big problem.So one thing is definitely every
nation in collaboration should form because ecology is not something that respects national or political
boundaries.Rivers don’t have boundaries, whether of states or nations. So to be able to form a… an
international policy, may be region wise – tropical region and sub-tropical regions and temperate climates
like this we could make but a comprehensive policy that everybody will agree to and start
implementing because a time has come that in the next – it’s really a fantastic day
today that we are talking about a decade of action. Not decade of talktik… talking, a decade
of action which is a very good terminology and very good intention. Now we have to get into action. Obviously United Nations does not have geographical presence, it is the nations on the ground which need to
act. So whatever the advisories, whatever the decisions made must become policies in every nation. There are
variety of situations in this which are culturally linked. And we have to be sensitive to this otherwise
it won’t work on the ground. So one thing we are doing in India is one
simple solution we offered is- in the riverine land in India, twenty-five to twenty-seven
percent is still owned by the government. So, we are talking about all the government
owned lands except for allocations for next fifty years of development.Except for that, everything
else must be converted into forests. The remaining nearly seventy percent of the
land is farm land, you cannot ask a poor farmer, who is fighting for his survival to save the
river or ecology or the world. So, we have an economic plan with significant
ecological impact, that is, a minimum of one kilometer on either side of the river should
become tree based agriculture. We have in small models proven that by moving
from crop based agriculture to tree based agriculture, the farmer’s income can go
up anywhere between three to eight times. And, this is an economic plan but significant
ecological impact will happen. There are encroachments, there are sand mining’s
and there are various other things, for all these things we have a policy recommendation.
These recommendations are very implementable and practical which is relevant to every tropical nation as I
said earlier. But the important thing is we need to understand these are two types of rivers we have
forest fed and glacier-fed. Glacier-fed rivers we just have to look up
and pray (Laughs) that something right happens. But forest-fed rivers we can revive. Fortunately it’s more
than seventy percent of the world’s rivers and over ninety percent of Indian rivers are forest-fed.
So, getting them back is not such a big challenge if there is a committed approach to this. May be we will
not be able to put back forests but we can definitely put back tree cover in the form of tree based agriculture.
For example, India is right now, importing nearly seven billion dollars’ worth of timber. So we are trying to get a
policy across that there was a… a colonial policy that if you cut a tree on your land you can’t transport
it, you need permission to do it. We are trying to take away these old rules
so that people will be encouraged to plant forest trees on their land because it will
be an economic proposition. Without making ecology… Without marrying ecology and
economy there is really no solution – because if there is no economic benefit, getting the masses involved
is not going to happen. A dynamic policy is needed. But very important thing is a mass involvement of
people. Without peoples’ participation this is not going to happen and peoples’ participation will not come
unless there is economic benefit attached to it. So talking about saving the world, we can
give any ma… number of lectures, it won’t work. The reason why India responded the way it responded
to Rally for Rivers because it was an economic plan. Hundred-and-sixty-two million people participated
in a one month long rally across the country. Probably this is the largest ever for any
ecological movement because ecology means “it is the concern of a handful of people
who are worried about the future, we are worried about the present”, that is the attitude. If you want to
describe these two dimensions, people understand economy as today’s issue, ecology as next generation’s
issue. No, ecology is this generation’s issue. This has to be made an urgent possibility
and whatever we do, unless we make ecology into a… a lucrative process for the large number of
people involved in it, large masses of people will never involve themselves in making this happen.When we
look at the water depletion that’s happened, just to… I mean, we live in Southern India and the
kind of depletion happened… today it’s in news that Bengaluru city which is known
as Bangalore in the rest of the world, when… when I was a child, there were over thousand-and-twenty
ponds and lakes in Bangalore city and three perennial rivers. I am talking about perennial water
bodies. Today there is no trace of these rivers. We don’t even know where they are anymore. Everything
is built upon and only eighty-two lakes and ponds existing. Out of this, forty-four of them are just sewage
water.Only about thirty-six to thirty-seven perennial water bodies have actual water, rest is all sewage.
This is happened in forty years’ time. This is what we are doing. This is the pressure of
population. Human footprint has become so broad that there is no room for anything else to happen on this
planet. We have to understand when we say life, we are not talking about just us but every other life
because if insects, worms, birds, animals and trees disappear, this plano… planet cannot exist, there
will be no life on this planet. But if you and me disappear the planet will
flourish wonderfully well. So we need to understand that in the scale
of significance, their significance on this planet is far more than us, though we may be a
dominant force right now. We are a recent happening. We may also have a very near ending if we don’t handle
ourselves right. This is not that planet is in peril. Planet is not in peril. It is only human life which is in
peril. Planet will recover, if we disappear, if all of us go to sleep for twenty-five years, everything will be back
and everything will be wonderful. So we are also wonderful but we are just little too many.
We need to understand this, in 2000 (Laughs)… at the beginning of twentieth century we were just
1.4 billion people, today, we are 7.3 billion people, in 2050 United Nations is projecting we could be
9.6 billion people. Why are we making predictions like astrologers? Why don’t we have a plan by 2050 what
population we want to have – because this planet can only sustain that many. But we don’t have a plan.
We are going on making predictions. It’s time this, a decade of action must seriously consider
population because that is the big elephant in the room. We don’t have an ecological crisis, we have
a population crisis. We are just too many people. If we don’t plan for a sensible population
in the future, if we do not consciously bring it to some kind of solution, nature will do
it in a very cruel way, that’s all you are seeing. What you are seeing as water crisis, is nature’s
way of controlling our population and this could become very severe. And from what I see, India
and some of the African nations will take the first beating on the way. They will get the first beating – in fact
the most severe impact will be on India and African nations. So, this is a… a very deep concern. This
is not like I am trying to paint a doomsday picture. But if we go on business as usual, we are
getting there. There is no question about it. And as we have seen in India, many villages
are completely empty now, people have moved away from the village because there is no
water anywhere. Whole villages are gone. So this essentially means as water crisis progresses,
more and more people will try to migrate to the city. If too many people migrate to the city where there is…
necessary infrastructure is missing, we will… we are looking at a very severe civil strife. We really fear,
what kind of civil strife can happen in the next twenty to twenty-five years in a country like India
unless we take corrective action today. And, I am glad today we are starting a decade of action.
As I said, fortunately our rivers and water bodies are largely forest-fed that means we can put back the
vegetation and revive these water bodies quite effortlessly. We have seen and demonstrated this
happening. But now we are looking at large scale demonstrations in some of the states in collaboration
with the state governments. Many states are going into a… a huge plantation
drives, like never thought of before. They are talking about tens of millions of
trees being put on the river banks and in the catchment areas.This is the only way
you can take care of river fed… I mean forest-fed rivers. Ice-fed rivers… Glacier-fed rivers are a different matter,
that is not going to change just like that. That has to go through a whole lot of process. Above all,
today I would like to appeal to every one of you, as I said if not an entire globe at least region wise
cooperation and common policies are a must for the future well-being of generations to come.
Thank you very much (Applause). Speaker: I thank Mr. Sadhguru for his very interesting
remarks. There is no doubt that your great experience and initiatives will raise awareness across the world
regarding deteriorating conditions of rivers and encourage people to take actions. Your remarks
have certainly enriched our discussions. Excellency’s, dear participants, I now open the floor for
comments and questions. First one of… on my list is Mr. Peter NG, chief executive of public utilities board,
Head of the Singapore National Water Agency. Please, the floor is yours. Peter NG: Excellency’s, do you
agree with me that portable reuse should be made a priority for the world if we are serious about achieving
STG 6 and if you do then surely the UN has to play a leading role in this. It has to become and advocate
for the endless reuse of water. And it has to deploy its influence to encourage
and to persuade member countries to adopt the portable reuse of water. As Singapore has
considerable experience and expertise in this area, we stand ready to advice and to help. Thank you.
Speaker: I thank Mr. Peter NG, distinguished participants, the floor for comments and
questions is open. Please if you want to make any comments, please press your microphones.
Sadhguru: Excuse me, can I say something? Sadhguru: Recycling and reusing water is no more an
optional thing. It’s something that we have to do because of concentrated populations in cities. But
one most important thing which generally not been addressed in most nations is as we know over
seventy percent of water consumption is agriculture. In India it is eighty-four percent is agriculture.
Shifting from flood irrigation to micro irrigation would make a huge difference. But micro irrigation has it
problems when land holdings are very small. So aggregating the irrigation process is an important
part of this. Only if we do that, water consumption could come down in a way that it’s significant and noticeable.
Reuse of city water, whatever domestic water we use is definitely has to be done, there is no question about
that.But micro irrigation, moving into micro irrigation, aggregating irrigation process is a very important step
that nations need to take. Speaker: Mr. Sadhguru, please, the floor is yours.
Sadhguru: It’s truly commendable that… we have heard that the Prime Minister of Singapore
consumes recycled water to make the point how safe it is, that’s wonderful. But that level of
purification, there are economic issues for countries like India and many other nations. So what we are
looking at is our daily sewage volume in the top two hundred cities and towns in India amounts to
thirty-six billion liters per day. This can easily irrigate anywhere between three to nine
million hectares of land with micro irrigation. And we’ve always found when we bring micro
irrigation, naturally woman get into the act because (Laughs) micro irrigation needs a certain level
of patience and generally we find men want to rip it off because it doesn’t work. It’s the women who have
the patience to go to every (Laughs) point and fix it. So naturally their role in agriculture and
fruit production would be greatly, greatly enhanced. If we move into micro irrigation and we can
bring down the water consumption in agricultural sector by at least forty percent. This we have
demonstrated in many places, at least by forty percent. And that would be the level of recycling we need.
We don’t have to necessarily recycle it to a point for human consumption but for agriculture it’s much
easier to do it and economically it’s more relevant to us.

66 comments on “Sadhguru at UN on World Water Day – Water for Sustainable Development

  1. We need more positive conversation like this to solve the problems of our country and the world.
    Stop Cynicism and Start Realism.

  2. Appreciate the selfless efforts of Sadhguru πŸ™ may the god enlighten the people that they realise the damage they're doing to the planet earth

  3. It was funny seeing moderator address him as Mr. Sadhguru πŸ™‚ but it's so nice to see India getting such a recognition on global platform. Sadhguru as usual in his emphatic style explains how to implement emphatic water policy throughout the world, urging for countries to work together. After all, as he said, ecology is not in risk but humans are!

  4. Charansparsh, Sadhguru!
    I dont know if you are reading this or not but out of many things that i want to convey to you, all i can say right now is that I LOVE YOU SADHGURU. <3
    Long Live Sadhguru!
    Om Namah Shivaya! πŸ™‚

  5. Sadhguru you open a single door to many many possibilities. Your knowledge is like a rain pouring with sensibilities and those who know how to get drenched into your rain of knowledge is very fortunate and a blessed one. Thank you and thank you Sadhguru G. πŸ™πŸ»

  6. I feel blessed to be born in era of Sri Sadhguru ji !!!!πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™ Always pleasure to hear Sri Sadhguru ji !!!Pranam !!!πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

  7. Why there is no ecological imaginary border (ecotones) across nations concerned with ecology and ecocentrism, governed by eco-warriors…???

  8. Often seems like Sadhguru is the only person in the room that is talking sense. But great that the UN is listening and people are ready to act. Thank you πŸ™

  9. WoW; sadhu guru VasuDevan just Praised the Singaporeans & the Singapore Government on the New Water's scientific methods.

  10. being part of Thamizh Culture, i'm Very Proud of this Event & Very Proud of Sadhu Guru VasuDevan sir.

  11. Mr. Sadhguru …what is your opinion on the use of water in the fossil fuel industry and how the water is left contaminated? Do you support alternative fuels? If yes, what are the ones you most aspire to use?

  12. Sustainable Development Goal # 6 (water) = Govt take over of all water, world wide,,,Citizens will no longer be water self sufficient. I pay $2.51 per month for my water right now. After the new govt forced water pipe line is put in I get to pay $66. a month. I can no long afford to buy water. Thanks U.N. for trying to taking over all water in the world. Own the water = CONTROL.

  13. Sadhguru you are accumulation of Intelligence as my mind perceived.

    Without seeing any prewritten note , such a great talk.

    You are billionth of billion.

  14. I think you should have stopped with the first and foremost cause I dont think even these got it. What a blessing to be on this planet of idiots!

  15. Sadguru ji ,
    I personally like your value points and remarks that you have stated in the conference but
    The world is not india but it is a conglomeration. You should be a little more vivid regarding the problems faced by people living in different continents of the world . That is what UN conference is meant for, It is a conference that discusses problems happening in United Nations. You shouldn t limit your self to india . People should need visionaries like you. This is the only limitation that i have noticed in this speech. The rest is pragmatic and articulate.

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