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Engaging with a global process towards a new and universal solidarity: An Ecojesuit gathering at COP23-Fiji in Bonn

31 October 2017

2017-10-30-Site-Logo-HiresEcojesuit gathers 30 Jesuits and partners in Bonn, Germany from 6 to 17 November to actively participate, join, engage with, and learn from a global process that is trying to sustain with the nations of the world the commitments of the Paris Agreement, the first global pact to respond to global warming.

This global process is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP23 which is the 23rd annual UN climate change conference, a round of negotiations that takes place between nations of the world.  The presidency of COP23 is the state of Fiji, but the summit will take place in Bonn. The focus of discussions are the small island states and to advance the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement builds upon the UNFCCC-COP21 “and for the first time brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.  As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort.  The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.” (UNFCC, Paris Agreement, 2015)

Ecojesuit actively participated in COP21 in Paris and a group of Jesuits and lay partners came together and engaged with other groups and individuals, the Jesuit community, and sought to explore new and broader ways to collaborate and network.  With Laudato Si’ released a few months earlier, Ecojesuit obtained an affirmation and firmer basis to collaborate and network with Jesuits in the global call for change, sharing and contributing to efforts to respond to social and environmental concerns in our own communities, institutions, and in our lifestyles.  This was also the year when Pope Francis addressed the UN during the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Thus, Laudato Si’ and the SDGs are important global frameworks that Ecojesuit uses in developing and updating the ecological agenda, contributing to the “ecological citizenship” that Pope Francis asks us to acquire.

This year, while the UN talks are going on in the Bula Zone, the main Ecojesuit event will be a dialogue conference on 13 November entitled Laudato Si’ – Environment is Relationship hosted by Aloisiuskolleg, a well-known Jesuit school in Bonn.

Open to all COP23 delegates, non-government and civil society organizations, students and academic staff, and members of the public, the event will gather speakers from the various Jesuit Conferences, including Micronesia, the Philippines in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Central Africa, South Asia, the US and Canada, and Europe.  The speakers will reflect and exchange on the challenges in caring for our Common Home and topics include food security and resource exploitation.

On the same day, Ecojesuit will host a Laudato Si’ Fair at which representatives from various Jesuit institutions, Conferences and ecology-related initiatives will showcase their activities.  Other events during COP23 include a meeting of the ecology cluster of the Jesuits in Europe, the Higher Education for Social Transformation (HEST) group.

The inspiration for Ecojesuit’s presence at COP23 is Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si’ for “a new and universal solidarity.”  Also relevant is last year’s Jesuit General Congregation 36 call for greater “collaboration among Jesuits and Jesuit apostolates through networks.”

Commenting on the initiative, Ecojesuit Europe representative Henry Longbottom SJ said “COP23 gives us a fantastic platform to get to know and learn from others in the Society and elsewhere involved in sustainability.  We also hope to communicate to the world something about an Ignatian approach to the challenges of climate change”.

As a global network of Jesuits and partners collaborating with others in research, education, and advocacy to promote sustainability and reconciliation with creation, Ecojesuit believes that COP23 is a context where the Society of Jesus can promote its call for reconciliation between creation and people.

The Ecojesuit team supports greater commitment, solidarity and action.  We encourage stronger leadership in the Society’s commitment to the principles of Laudato Si’.  This process will strengthen our contribution to the Society’s discernment of apostolic priorities.

Ecojesuit online will run special issues while in Bonn and will post daily reports.  Please follow us at EcojesuitCOP23 and on Twitter with #EcojesuitCOP23

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