On January 20 this year, I was back in Davos after a decade for the World Economic Forum 2020, to conduct a half-day meditation retreat and to participate in the launch of the "Champions for 1 Trillion Trees" platform.
A decade ago, when I first came to Davos, some people were almost resentful. One of them, the CEO of a major computer manufacturer, asked me, "What is a mystic doing in a business meet?" I replied, "Whether you make computers or a spacecraft or a safety pin, whatever you may be making, the basic business is human well-being. And that's my business too." Everyone's business is human well-being. It is just being handled at different levels.
Today, it is incredible to see heads of nations talking about yoga and the inner well-being of the human being. This means that humanity is beginning to look at well-being as a science, not as faith or something that happens to you by accident. We are looking towards a scientific process of creating well-being consciously.
In the World Economic Forum, a business place, half a day was dedicated to the meditation retreat. This is because they understand that without creating quality human beings, there is no quality world. It is most important for all, and particularly for leaders whose decisions affect millions of lives, to embrace conscious and inclusive leadership. Creating a Conscious Planet is possible only by raising human consciousness.
We are at an inflection point in the history of our planet, and this is the time to script an economic and ecological destiny that is conscious and inclusive. The Champions for 1 Trillion Trees platform that was launched at Davos is a crucial step towards this.
It is exciting to see that the world is beginning to look at trees as a major part of restoring ecological balance. This platform will change the ecological trajectory of our planet and combat climate change. One important aspect of reaching this one trillion tree goal is to ensure that planting trees becomes an economic process for people. If ecology and economy are not together, economy will win hands down and ecology will go for a toss. If ecology has to win, we have to marry ecology and economy.
This is what we are doing in southern India with Cauvery Calling, a project to involve five million farmers who will grow 2.42 billion trees on their lands through agroforestry in the Cauvery river basin. Agroforestry is tree cultivation with crops in-between. With trees on the land, the nutritional values and yields of the crops get better, soil fertility recovers, water tables come up, and above all, timber is a very lucrative item. A farmer's income can go up 300-800% in five to seven years by shifting to agroforestry.
Right now, unfortunately, most of the timber on the planet is illegal. People need timber but the forests on the planet cannot take any more exploitation. This means we can no longer look at timber as forest produce. Timber has to become agricultural produce.
Unless we make timber an agricultural produce, we will lose our ability to grow food in this country in the next twenty-five years. In the last 20 years, faced with dying soil and no water, over three lakh farmers across the country have committed suicide. We have conducted a few informal surveys and found that less than five percent of the farmers in Tamil Nadu want their children to go into farming. We are losing the next generation of farmers. With India's population expected to be more than 1.5 billion by 2050, we are definitely heading for a major food crisis. If we want to prevent this, ensuring that timber becomes an agricultural produce, which the farmer can grow, fell, transport and sell wherever he wants is extremely important.
In collaboration with the Trillion Trees platform, we can very easily scale up the 2.42 billion trees in the Cauvery Calling project to fifty billion trees across India's river basins - all on private lands. This will enhance the farmer's economic condition and also ensure at least a 90% survival rate for saplings because this is the farmer's commerce - he will naturally take good care of it. This is the best way to marry ecology and economy.
At the historic fiftieth World Economic Forum, economy and ecology have been placed at par together. May we all unite to shape a more conscious destiny for the planet.
(Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and a New York Times bestselling author. Sadhguru was conferred the "Padma Vibhushan" by the Government of India in 2017, one of the highest civilian awards, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service. Three decades ago, Sadhguru founded Isha Foundation, a non-profit human-service organization, with human well-being as its core commitment. Sadhguru has initiated powerful yoga programs for human transformation as well as various outreach projects to uplift under-served communities in rural India.)
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