Global Landscapes Forum: Renowned Yogi Sadhguru and UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim to discuss campaign to save India’s rivers as an example for global action

14 Dec 2017


Tuesday, December 19, 2017, from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m.
Part of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn 2017.

World Conference Center Bonn, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 2, 53113 Bonn, Germany
(Google Maps)

Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment.
Sadhguru, Founder, Isha Foundation, India.

Spiritual leader to speak on urgent efforts underway to save India’s rivers, critical to the country’s water supply

UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim in conversation with Sadhguru about #RallyforRivers campaign as an example for global action on landscapes

Rally for Rivers (#RallyforRivers) is a nationwide effort to save India’s rivers from depletion. The campaign was launched by Sadhguru, famed yogi and founder of the Isha Foundation, while driving across India last September. Since then, the initiative has mobilized 160 million people, making it one of the world’s biggest and most successful environmental movements.

Sadhguru has chosen to speak about his campaign with the Executive Director of UN Environment, Erik Solheim, at the 2017 Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany—the world’s largest gathering on sustainable land use.

India’s rivers are undergoing drastic changes, affecting people and crops. The Ganges is one of the most endangered rivers in the world. The Krishna and Narmada rivers have lost around 60% of their flow, while the Kaveri has lost 40% of its flow. The Godavari was dry along much of its length in 2016 and perennial rivers are becoming seasonal.

Rally for Rivers makes a comprehensive set of recommendations covering all aspects of river revitalization, including groundwater aquifer recharge and how to enhance the rapidly deteriorating organic content of soil. The initiative argues that the simplest, most effective solution to rejuvenating India’s rivers is maintaining a minimum of one kilometer tree cover on riversides beyond the active floodplain mark of the river. Moist soil will ensure rivers are fed throughout the year. Trees will reduce floods, drought and soil loss, and also significantly increase farmers’ incomes. The proposal, at the core of the initiative’s draft policy, is an economic plan for India’s farmers with a significant, positive ecological consequence.

The campaign saw an unprecedented coming together of political leaders, farmers, industrialists, businessmen, students, professionals, media and other groups, culminating in the handing over of draft policy recommendations for the revitalization of rivers to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Following this action, Prime Minister Modi set up an expert committee within India’s policy-making agency, NITI Aayog, to review proposals and implement related actions.

As the Global Landscapes Forum scales up its goal to accelerate action towards integrated sustainable landscapes, Sadhguru and Solheim will be discussing ways in which the mobilization success of the Rally for Rivers campaign could serve as a model for other environmental movements worldwide.

The pairing between Sadhguru and the Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim is no coincidence. UN Environment has increasingly been working on sustainable land use, stopping deforestation and restoring forests and landscapes—efforts that together could contribute over 30 per cent to the achievement of the Paris Agreement.

“How we manage our land has the largest untapped potential for climate action,” said Erik Solheim. “If we follow the Rally for Rivers lead and stop deforestation and restore degraded lands globally we can turn land use from a contributor to climate change to a climate solution. The fact that we are still losing forests of an area the size of Portugal each year is neither acceptable nor necessary.”

“We urgently need to shift from thinking of how to exploit our rivers to how to revitalize them. We have to make every human being aware that there is an express need for action to save the rivers. If we spread this awareness in the world, arrive at a common policy, and start the implementation, it will be the most successful step for the planet and for the wellbeing of generations to come,” said Sadhguru.

To attend the event as media, or to request interviews and press materials, please contact:
Susan Tonassi,,+49 160 9327 9327
Leona Liu,, +33 6 19 20 48 18

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is the world’s largest science-led, multi-sectoral platform for integrated land use, bringing together world leaders, development practitioners, climate change negotiators, scientists, private sector representatives, civil society and the media to accelerate action towards the creation of more resilient, equitable, profitable, productive and climate-friendly landscapes. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), UN Environment, and The World Bank launched the Forum in Warsaw in 2013, alongside the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP). Over 25,000 stakeholders from 3,000 organizations and 110 countries have since engaged with the GLF. With core funding provided by the German Government, the GLF is now entering its next 5-year phase that will put communities and local realities at the center of the conversation.

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Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, visionary and New York Times and Washington Post bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the ‘Padma Vibhushan’ by the Government of India in 2017, one of the highest civilian awards, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service. He has been a primary speaker at the United Nations headquarters and a regular at the World Economic Forum. He has also been invited to speak at leading educational institutions including Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton and MIT.

Three decades ago, Sadhguru founded the Isha Foundation, a non-profit human-service organization, with human well-being as its core commitment, supported by over nine million volunteers in over 250 centers worldwide.

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The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

Its mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

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