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Day: July 22, 2015

In the meeting on climate change and modern slavery, the Pope warns against the idolatry of technocracy

Vatican City, 22 July 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis greeted the participants in the meeting “Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of cities” and in the Symposium “Prosperity, people and planet: achieving sustainable development in our cities ”, held in the Vatican’s Casina Pio IV by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, whose chancellor is Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The events were attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various representatives of the United Nations. The Holy Father gave an impromptu address in which he reiterated that care for the environment meant, above all, adopting an attitude of human ecology and that “Laudato si’” was not simply a “green” but also a social document. He also considered the theme of the unfettered growth of cities due to the lack of work for rural populations, and invited the mayors to collaborate with international bodies in order to face the issues of exploitation and human trafficking caused by migratory phenomena. “I offer you my sincere and heartfelt thanks for what you have done”, said the Pope to the participants in the symposium. “It is true that everything revolves around … this culture of care for the environment. But this ‘green’ culture – and I say that in a positive sense – is much more than that. Caring for the environment means an attitude of human ecology. In other words, we cannot say: the person and Creation, the environment, are two separate entities. Ecology is total, it is human. This is what I wanted to express in the Encyclical ‘Laudato si”: that you cannot separate humanity from the rest; there is a relationship of mutual impact, and also the rebound effect when the environment is abused. Therefore … I say, ‘no, it is not a green encyclical, it is a social encyclical’. Because we cannot separate care for the environment from the social context, the social life of mankind. Furthermore, care for the environment is a social attitude”. “It seemed to me to be a very fruitful idea to invite the mayors cities both large and not so large, because one of the things that is most evident when the environment, Creation, is not cared for, is the unfettered growth of cities. It is a worldwide phenomenon … cities become larger but with growing bands of poverty and misery, where the people suffer the effects of environmental neglect. In this respect, the phenomenon of migration is involved. Why do people come to large cities, to the outskirts of large cities, to the slums, shanty towns and favelas? … It is simply because the rural world does not offer them opportunities. And one issue mentioned in the Encyclical … is the idolatry of technocracy. Technocracy leads to the loss of work, it creates unemployment, which leads to migration and the need to seek new horizons. The great number of unemployed is a warning. I do not have the statistics to hand, but in some countries in Europe, youth unemployment – effecting those aged 25 and younger – surpasses 40 per cent and in some cases even 50 per cent. … What prospects can the future offer to today’s unemployed youth? Addiction, boredom, not knowing what to do with life – a life without meaning, which is very tough – or indeed suicide. The statistics on youth suicide are not fully published. Or indeed the search for other horizons, even in guerrilla projects that present an ideal of life”. “Health is also at stake”, emphasised the Pope. “The increasing incidence of ‘rare’ diseases, which often come from elements used to fertilise the fields, or … from an excess of technification. One of the most important problems relates to oxygen and water. That is, the desertification of large areas as a result of deforestation. Here beside me is the cardinal archbishop representing the Brazilian Amazon: he can tell us what deforestation means today in the Amazon, one of the world’s great lungs. The Congo and the Amazon are the world’s great lungs. … What happens when all these phenomena of excessive technification, of environmental neglect, as well as natural phenomena, affect migration? It leads to unemployment and human trafficking. Illegal work, without contracts, is increasingly common … and means that people do not earn enough to live. This can give rise to criminal behaviour and other problems typical of large cities as a result of migration due to technification. I refer in particular to human trafficking in the mining sector; slavery in mining remains a major issue. Mining also involves the use of certain elements in the purifying of minerals, such as arsenic and cyanide, causing diseases in the population. In this we have a great responsibility. … Everything has a rebound effect … This can include human trafficking for the purposes of slave labour or prostitution”. “Finally, I would say that this requires the involvement of the United Nations. I hope that the Paris Summit in November will lead to a basic agreement. I have high hopes, and believe that the United Nations must take a greater interest in this phenomenon, especially human trafficking caused by environmental issues, and the exploitation of people. A couple of months ago I received in audience a delegation of women from the United Nations, who were occupied with the issue of the sexual exploitation of children in countries at war. … Wars are another element contributing to environmental imbalance”. “I wish to end with a reflection that is not mine, but is instead from the theologian and philosopher Romano Guardini”, Francis said. “He speaks about two forms of ignorance: the ignorance that God gives us to be transformed into culture, giving us the mandate to care for, nurture and dominate the earth; and the second form of ignorance, when man does not respect this relationship with the earth, and does not look after it. .. When he does not care for Creation, man falls prey to this second type of ignorance and starts to abuse it. … Atomic energy is good and can be helpful, but up to a certain point – think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Disaster and destruction can be caused. It is the second form of ignorance that destroys humanity. A medieval rabbi, from around the time of St. Thomas Aquinas … explained the problem of the tower of Babel to his faithful in the synagogue, and said that in order to build the tower a good deal of time and work was needed, especially in making the bricks. … Each brick was worth a lot. … When a brick fell it was a very serious matter and the culprit who neglected it and let it fall was punished. However, when a worker who was building the tower fell, nothing happened. This is the problem of the second form of ignorance, of the man as the creator of ignorance and not of culture. Man as the creator of ignorance because he does not care for the environment”. “And so, why did the Pontifical Academy of Sciences convoke mayors and city governors? Because are aware of how to carry out this important and profound work, from the centre to the periphery, and from the periphery to the centre. They are aware of the reality of humanity. The Holy See may make a good speech before the United Nations, but if the work does not come from the periphery to the centre, it will have no effect; hence the responsibility of mayors and city governors. I therefore thank you for bringing clarification of the condition of many peripheries gravely affected by these problems, which you have to govern and resolve. I thank you and I ask the Lord to grant us the grace of being aware of the problem of the destruction that we ourselves have wrought by failing to care for human ecology, … so we might transform ignorance into culture, and not the contrary”….

Pope and mayors sign declaration on climate and trafficking

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and mayors from cities across the globe have signed a common declaration of intent to combat environmental damage and human trafficking.
The signing of the document followed a meeting Tuesday afternoon in the Vatican between the Pope and the mayors who are attending a two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organized by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences.
Please find below the full text of the common declaration:
We the undersigned have assembled at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences to address two inter-connected dramatic emergencies: human-induced climate change, and social exdusion in the extreme forms of radical poverty, modern slavery and human trafficking, We join together from many cultures and walks of life, reflecting humanity’s shared yearning for prosperity, justice and environmental sustainability peace, happiness.
On the basis of the encyclical Laudato si’, we have considered the over-whelming scientific evidence regarding human-induced climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the vulnerability of the poor to economic, social and environmental disasters.
In the face of the emergencies attributable to human-induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare the following:
Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.
In this core moral space, cities play a very vital role. All of our cultural traditions uphold the inherent dignity and social responsibility of every individual and the related common good of all humanity. They affirm the beauty, wonder and inherent goodness of the natural world, and appreciate that it is a precious gift entrusted to our common care, making it our moral duty to steward rather than ravage the garden that is our “common home”.
In spite of having a minimal role in the disruption of the climate, the poor and excluded face dire threats from human-induced climate change, including the increased frequency of droughts, extreme storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels. Today humanity has the technological instruments, the financial resources and the know-how to reverse climate change while also ending extreme poverty, through the application of sustainable development solutions, including the adoption of low-carbon energy systems supported by information and communications technologies.
The financing of sustainable development, including the effective control of human-induced climate change, should be bolstered through new incentives for the transition towards low-carbon and renewable energy, and through the relentless pursuit of peace, which also will enable a shift of public financing from military spending to urgent investments for sustainable development.
The world should take note that the climate summit in Paris later this year (COP21) may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2°C, and aim to stay well below 2°C for safety, yet the current trajectory may well reach a devastating 4°C or higher. Political leaders of all UN member States have a special responsibility to agree at COP21 to a bold climate agreement that confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity, while protecting the poor and the vulnerable from ongoing climate change that gravely endangers their lives. The high-income countries should help to finance the costs of climate-change mitigation in low-income countries as the high-income countries have promised to do.
Climate-change mitigation will require a rapid transformation to a world powered by renewable and other low-carbon energy and the sustainable management of ecosystems. These transformations should be carried out in the context of globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, consistent with ending extreme poverty; ensuring universal access to healthcare, quality education, safe water, and sustainable energy; and cooperating to end human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery.
As mayors we commit ourselves to building, in our cities and urban settlements, the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reducing their exposure to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, which foster human trafficking and dangerous forced migration.
At the same time, we commit ourselves to ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of modern slavery, which are crimes against humanity, including forced labor and prostitution, organ trafficking, and domestic servitude; and to developing national resettle ment and reintegration programs that avoid the involuntary repatriation of trafficked persons (cf. PASS’s revision of UN Sustainable Development Goals, n. 16.2).
We want our cities and urban settlements to become ever more socially inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (cf. UN Sustainable Development Goals, n. 11). All sectors and stakeholders must do their part, a pledge that we fully commit ourselves to in our capacities as mayors and individuals.
(from Vatican Radio)…

The Holy See on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

(Vatican Radio) The Holy See delegation to the United Nations says it believes the draft outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda “moves the international community further in the right direction, toward achieving a universal, ambitious and transformative agenda that sets out to end poverty and to achieve sustainable development for humanity and the planet.”
The full text of the Intervention of the Holy See can be found below:
Intervention of the Holy See
Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda
General Statement on the Final Draft, Post-2015 Development Agenda
New York, 20 July 2015
Distinguished Co-facilitators,
My delegation would like to thank you for your efforts in producing the most recent version of the draft outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
We believe that this draft moves the international community further in the right direction, toward achieving a universal, ambitious, and transformative agenda that sets out to end poverty and to achieve sustainable development for humanity and the planet.
On the preamble and declaration, my delegation welcomes the recognition that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge and that it is resolved to free humanity from the tyranny of poverty in all of its forms. We are also pleased that both the preamble and the declaration make clear that one of the critical measures of success will be that nobody will be left behind, for indeed, this agenda will not be achieved unless it addresses the needs of all nations and people s, and in particular the poor and most vulnerable.
However, my delegation is of the view that both the preamble and declaration could speak more directly on the importance of the integration and the indivisibility of the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. One pillar certainly cannot be addressed in isolation from another.
For example, preference for the protection of the environment or economic growth, without first considering the dignity of the human person and the common good of society as a whole, would be contrary to the very nature of the agenda.
As Pope Francis pointed out in his recent encyclical Laudato si’ , “strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” The holistic approach taken by the agenda is an important step forward from an eventual siloed approach.
Distinguished Co-facilitators,
Regarding the SDGs and targets, my delegation is of the view that it should include the Chapeau to the Report and reservations. It is also important to clarify the question of reservations, in order to understand properly how they will be reflected in the text.
On means of implementation, my delegation is supportive of strong and focused MOI section, recognizing that it is foundational for the fulfilment of the agenda. We encourage the mobilization of both financial and non-financial resources through all channels, including capacity building and science, technology, and innovation assistance, especially for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Small Island Development States (SIDS), countries in conflict and post-conflict situations and all countries in special situations.
Finally, on follow-up and review, my delegation supports the draft’s establishment of a robust, effective, inclusive, and transparent framework, as well as its acknowledgment that it will be based on mutual trust with a goal of mutual learning. Nonetheless, similar to other delegations, we have specific concerns regarding the indicator framework, which we will share in greater detail later on this week.
(from Vatican Radio)…