Nicole: Why does it feel like our sustainable practices are out of balance? For every beautiful step forward, I see three steps backward?
Sangeeta: The classic principles of sustainability from a practical, structural perspective have always been the three driving pillars of: economy, society, and the environment. These principles are also informally known as profit, people, and planet.
But It’s clear that another principle is pushing for these principles to be reassessed and re-evaluated, and that’s the principle of diversity! When we add diversity into the equation then it becomes apparent that the relationship between profit, people and planet needs to be rethought. Planet seems to be coming in last, which ultimately affects people and profit too! So the present application of sustainability principles is resulting in unsustainability for the whole!!
We also need to redefine Profit. Profits mean money of course, but money is basic. Profit also should incorporate education, experience, knowledge and impact.
Nicole: What inspired you to create Unified Human Foundation?
Sangeeta: Yes, we wanted to re-evaluate our perspective and understanding of these pillars so that we can begin to apply new and deeper understanding into practices which will rebalance, harmonize and unify planet, people and profits. Ultimately leading to greater prosperity for all parts of the whole.
Nicole: What are the guiding principles of UHF?-
Sangeeta: Introduction of Unified Human Foundation, its background, why it was founded. UHF’s principles and its three platforms.
Nicole: Sangeeta, for you, this isn’t just a theory, UHF has already started with projects that have successfully united people, planet and profit. What made those projects succeed?
Sangeeta: HRDS India is an NGO providing tribal communities with housing, in the southernmost state of India, Kerala. This state has many different tribal communities which were living in very basic housing conditions. So this wonderful ngo, which has been working for over 20 years, designed, builds and gives these families completely eco friendly housing. The houses are designed to be in harmony with the environment, climate and land they are built on. They have even been made elephant proof! These tribal communities own 5000 acres of land and the ngo has brought in skilled experts to help them cultivate medicinal plants. They will show them how to plant/cultivate and harvest these plants. And have already made agreements with companies to purchase the herbs, once they’ve been harvested, to be used in food/cosmetic/medicinal herbal products. This is a truly circular economic model in real-time application, not just conceptually!
This project ticks off all the boxes of the UHF criteria.
The UHF was founded on the universal principles given in the ancient Ayurveda model of leading a thriving and sustainable life. Ayurveda means the knowledge of life. Ayurveda is the most original, comprehensive, complete, ancient model of universal/ planetary and human life Sustainability. The model unifies art and science in nature and elevates it to the level of sacredness. Ayurveda’s multidimensional aspects clarify the scientifically validated connections between harvesting/farming/solar and lunar cycles, circadian rhythms, and their influences on earth elements and earth’s water bodies and oceans. When we learn to put nature first and work with her, to support her natural circadian rhythms and life flows, people also thrive and prosper.
Nicole: How would you relate these projects to our oceans?
The Ayurveda model examines the inter-relatedness of humans and nature, as well as incorporating evolution. Evolution in nature’s language means diversity. Nature loves and thrives on diversity. Both the planet and human bodies are made up of at least 70% water. Our bodies and lifestyles are a reflection of the earth’s systems, and now more than ever, we need to understand and apply systems which ensure that we are in harmony with the planet. The human earthly life is becoming more and more technologically driven. Why? What for? Do we really need more technology or do we create more, just because we can? Where do we draw a line, how do we temper ourselves?
What technology do we need to thrive and what is an overconsumption of resources, just because we can? And what is the cost of our creative hunger to produce more?
We can only answer these questions honestly when we reassess our relationship to our planet. And the more in harmony we are with the planet, the more the planet will support us back.
We need to reconnect with the planet. We need to align our rhythms with hers. We need close physical projects with her, to understand how she works and to begin a new relationship. I really believe we’re beginning a new chapter for how earth and human can relate with each other. And it’s the same with the indigenous tribes. They definitely know more about the planet and the way she functions and operates than most of us, and I’ve been privileged enough to witness that and learn from them personally through my cultural and community sustainability projects. But I also realise that there is an evolving world of new technologies that would be useful for indigenous people to learn and use to evolve their own communities. I really feel Our oceans beckon us, urging us to learn about them before they are forever changed.
We need to engage with communities who have, perhaps, developed with the oceans and learn from them how to live in harmony and respect with the oceans. Viewing these practices through the lens of Ayurveda, we support co-operatives with projects working directly with the oceans, using technologies which are designed taking into account how the ocean operates, rather than how we humans think the ocean should operate. Then we can cultivate, harvest her bounty- look at how to use some of her materials- algae/ seaweed/minerals etc in a way that doesn’t deplete her, that allows her to thrive, and allows us to create and thrive too. We should be looking at the natural materials that already exist and thinking of what we can do with them, rather than synthesising more!
The Oceans are still unknown territories for us, and now is the time we MUST be aware and conscious of how we treat them. We can learn not to make the same mistakes with our oceans as we have with our lands.
I believe firmly that we are guests on this planet. We don’t come here to stay, this planet earth does not belong to us. In order to have made a positive contribution to our stay here we have an obligation to leave her in a better state than when we arrived.