Protect our soil to save the planet, says Indian climate guru Sadhguru at Cop28

Yogi says UAE climate conference has shifted the focus to green farming but more needs to be done

Sadhguru, an Indian spiritual leader, has called for more soil preservation to tackle the climate crisis at Cop28 in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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An Indian climate guru says the preservation of the Earth's soil is key to tackling the climate crisis.

Jaggi Vasudev, or Sadhguru as he is better known, said his key message at the Cop28 climate summit is that protecting the soil is imperative to saving the planet.

He said there is an urgent need to slow down forced migration and igniting mass awareness on soil nutrition will place it on the policy agenda of all governments.

Soil degradation causes millions to migrate every year and the UN has warned of a dangerous decline in food production over the next 30 years with Earth’s top soil at risk by 2050.

Saving the soil has to become people’s priority only then administrations will take it up
Sadhguru, an Indian spiritual leader on strengthening the soil

Sadhguru has a mass following with a billion views on YouTube and more than 11 million followers on Instagram where his talks often merge spirituality and climate action.

At Cop28, being held in Dubai, he aims to whip up attention on soil regeneration at public events and panel discussions.

“Our messages are being tweeted daily by a few thousand people, this needs to become millions,” Sadhguru told The National.

“This is when political leaders will see this and it will become policy.

“We must understand that every extra green leaf we put on this planet means that we have taken one step towards climate mitigation.”

Green farming pledge

Despite many criticising the UAE – an oil rich country – hosting Cop28, Sadhguru said he thought the host was appropriate since it would encourage more solutions from the climate summit.

He acknowledged the recent landmark agriculture and food security declaration – Emirates Declaration – that has been signed by 134 countries including the UAE, the US and China, that aims to protect the lives and livelihoods of farmers on the front lines of climate change.

It also aims to transform 160 million hectares into regenerative agriculture by 2030, and engaging 3.6 million farmers worldwide.

“For the first time here in the UAE in Cop28, there is a shift from fossil fuels to soil and agriculture, this is happening, this is a big shift,” he said.

“At least the world’s focus has shifted in the right direction.

The agricultural declaration is a big thing – such investments in agriculture and soil generation are huge.

“We are talking about regenerating the world’s agricultural soils – this is what we must transform.”

Sadhguru said consumption patterns needed to change and called for people, activists and governments to work together on conservation and sustainable farming solutions.

“There is a lot of criticism about this Cop, particularly because it's happening in the UAE which is essentially a hydrocarbon country.

“But hydrocarbons are being exploited not because the UAE population is drinking it. It's because the rest of the world is thirsty for it.

“Instead of reducing the thirst, you want to reduce the production – that's not the answer.”

Large-scale change

Wearing a Save Soil T-shirt over his orange robes, Sadhguru wants to spread the message that the organic content in soil must be replenished with leaves, vegetation and animal waste.

The 65-year-old launched the Save Soil movement last year, riding 30,000 kilometres over 100 days on a motorbike from London to South India to inspire mass awareness on soil nutrition.

He met students, activists, politicians and world leaders on the ride that was backed by the United Nations Environment Programme.

“I’m working at a large-scale movement,” he said.

“When I travel, I wear a Save Soil T-shirt, this is like a banner.

“I’m doing this because saving the soil has to become people’s priority only then administrations will take it up.

Our business is to make sure that soil appeals to people, so they will stand up and say, 'Yes this matters to us, our children’s future matters to us.'”

Conscious Planet, Sadhuru's movement, is also working with UAE groups to exchange knowledge by connecting them with organisations in western India where the soil is also rich in salt to exchange information on how to revitalise the land.

“The soil is not one more resource like oil or coal,” he said,

“If there is no soil there is no life on this planet. We need to preserve our soil for the next generations to come.”

Cop28 – in pictures

Updated: December 10, 2023, 5:24 AM