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Reaffirming the urgent call to renew dialogue on building our planet’s future

30 November 2017
On their way to COP23, leaders from the Pacific island states met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Photo credit: spc.int

On their way to COP23, leaders from the Pacific island states met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Photo credit: spc.int

Ecojesuit shares the letter of Pope Francis to Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama  who officially hosted the UNFCCC COP23 in Bonn, Germany from 6 to 17 November.

Excellency,

Nearly two years ago, the international community gathered within this UNFCCC forum, with most of its highest government representatives, and after a long and complex debate arrived at the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement.  It saw the achievement of consensus on the need to launch a shared strategy to counteract one of the most worrying phenomena our humanity is experiencing: climate change.

The will to follow this consensus was highlighted by the speed with which the Paris Agreement entered into force, less than a year after its adoption.

The Agreement indicates a clear path of transition to a low- or zero-carbon model of economic development, encouraging solidarity and leveraging the strong links between combating climate change and poverty.  This transition is further solicited by the climatic urgency that requires greater commitment from the countries, some of which must endeavour to take a leading role in this transition, bearing in mind the needs of the most vulnerable populations.

These days you are gathered in Bonn to carry out another important phase of the Paris Agreement: the process of defining and constructing guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms so that it may be truly effective and capable of contributing to the achievement of the complex objectives it proposes.  In such a path, it is necessary to maintain a high level of cooperation.

From this perspective, I would like to reaffirm my urgent call to renew dialogue on how we are building the future of the planet.  We need an exchange that unites us all, because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all.  […] Unfortunately, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis are often frustrated for various reasons ranging from denial of the problem to indifference, comfortable resignation, or blind trust in technical solutions. (LS 14)

We should avoid falling into the trap of these four perverse attitudes, which certainly do not help honest research or sincere and productive dialogue on building the future of our planet: denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions.

Moreover, we cannot limit ourselves only to the economic and technological dimension: technical solutions are necessary but not sufficient; it is essential and desirable to carefully consider the ethical and social impacts and impacts of the new paradigm of development and progress in the short, medium and long term.

From this perspective, it is increasingly necessary to pay attention to education and lifestyles based on an integral ecology, capable of taking on a vision of honest research and open dialogue where the various dimensions of the Paris Agreement are intertwined.  It is useful to remember that the Agreement recalls the “grave … ethical and moral responsibility to act without delay, in a manner as free as possible from political and economic pressures, setting aside particular interests and behavior.” (from the Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to His Excellency Mr Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister For Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom Of Morocco and President of the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change (COP22), Marrakech, 7 to 18 November 2016)

This means, in effect, propagating a “responsible awareness” towards our common home (LS 202, 231) through the contribution of all, in explaining the different forms of action and partnership between the various stakeholders, some of whom do not lack to highlight the ingenuity of the human being in favour of the common good.

While I send my greetings to you, Mr President, and to all the participants in this Conference, I hope that, with your authoritative guidance and that of the Fiji Islands, the work of these days will be inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP21.  This will enable an acceleration of awareness-raising and consolidate the will to make effective decisions to counteract the phenomenon of climate change while at the same time fighting poverty and promoting true human development as a whole.  This commitment is supported by the wise providence of God Most High.

In a related event, a delegation of leaders from the Pacific Island states and 46 members of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat met with Pope Francis on their way to COP23 in Bonn and shared their climate concerns .  Pope Francis, in his address to the delegation, envisioned an “earth without borders that calls for the need for a global outlook, international cooperation and solidarity, and a shared strategy, to address environmental problems.”

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