Ecojesuit started 2020 by building on the momentum gained from the 2019 Annual Meeting in India and COP25 in Madrid, where the network organized a merged session in the Capacity-Building Hub at COP25 with the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous People and Local Communities.
A Workbook on Effective Collaboration was released in January that highlights the learnings of Ecojesuit, capturing insights from the past year, and putting forward suggestions. The network continued to support the message of the Amazon Synod through its final document, Querida Amazonia.
In March, Ecojesuit engaged with Loyola University Chicago’s Climate Change Conference pre-event, a workshop for Jesuit-affiliated colleagues that focused on community-based participatory research. Case studies from India, Nicaragua, and the Philippines were presented that highlighted the importance of working with communities and approaches to locally-led sustainable development through agroecology, forest management, and natural resource conservation.
As lockdowns took effect in mid-March due to the global pandemic and planned engagements were cancelled, Ecojesuit took the opportunity to re-strategize and try different approaches. From May to June, the network organized a series of Conference-level dialogues for change. These were very helpful in understanding the local-regional contexts at a “time of great uncertainty” and in exploring collaborations for a better normal.
It was from these discussions that the six Lead Actions were identified as a basis for collaboration across the Conferences and to connect stories, practices, and emerging issues. These Lead Actions are: 1) Connecting agriculture and entrepreneurship; 2) Addressing social-economic-environmental integrity in the face of deepened poverty, business as usual, and environmental degradation; 3) Advocating for climate action, human rights and the contribution of Indigenous Peoples; 4) Tracking and explaining economic institutions emerging at the global level; 5) Strengthening the Laudato Si’ Universities Action Platform, other Action Platforms of Laudato Si’ Year, and Querida Amazonia; and 6) Promoting ecospirituality and the need for its awareness in basic education.
The Lead Actions also provided a good basis for planning and communicating with the Conferences. The Jesuit Conference of South Asia (JCSA) is finalizing its Action Plan with its Conference Ecoteam, and the developing Apostolic Plan of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific is taking some inspiration from the Lead Actions.
Ecojesuit also produced a 20-minute video, Urgent Action for the Oikos, released on 22 April, Earth Day. With the coronavirus pandemic, more people are learning that their daily household is part of the world household. In finding the balance between economy and ecology (that share the same word for home, oikos) in our common home, six actions and attitudes were identified that must be sought at the local, national, and global levels:
1. Local, national, and global programs of food, health, and livelihood are capacitated so that there is less vulnerability while implementing the Sustainable Development Goals
2. Social amelioration programs and debt cancellation in a circular economy
3. Local to global restoration of soil, land, water, oceans, biodiversity, and ecological services
4. Buy locally with basic food security for all and prioritize sources of water security while gaining global accountability of corporate engagement
5. Act for local clean air and cut greenhouse gases globally
6. Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration
And to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, Ecojesuit continued the art challenge Sketching4Change in May with the theme Drawing Laudato Si’ that drew interested sketchers to post photos of their artworks on social media. Daily prompts taken from Laudato Si’ were shared through the Ecojesuit FB page during May to encourage participants to share how its message is present in their daily life, and to draw inspiration in caring for our Common Home.
Online events were launched that focused on agroecology and food systems such as the Agroecology For Food System Change: A dialogue series on life, land, and livelihood held 19 November that shared North and Central American community experiences and actions.
This event built on a related event in 4 July, Protecting Earth – Caring for our Common Home: Reviving Agroecology, that was organized through the leadership of the JCSA, and drew a thousand registrants.
The network also engaged with the Economy of Francesco global process by organizing a three-part dialogue series with young people in collaboration with the Don Bosco Green Alliance and Living Laudato Si’ Philippines on 28 August, 11 and 25 September.
Ecojesuit continues to communicate stories online through its website and social media channels. From 34 stories shared in 2018, the output more than doubled to 81 in 2020.
Continuing to seek and promote collaboration with Conferences, communities, and networks in 2021
A priority area is the development of Ecojesuit’s online agriculture community platform and a beta website was developed, Farm for Care. Additional efforts are needed to encourage more engagement, as well as the continuation of the Agroecology for Food System Change dialogue series.
Another priority is building engagement towards COP26 in November. The network will continue the initial collaboration and planning that started at the beginning of 2020 before the global pandemic delayed COP26, such as participation in the UNFCCC Regional Climate Weeks and other events that contribute to the COP process. An Ecojesuit website dedicated to COP26 was launched and invites discussion and the sharing of materials in building engagement.
Close attention will be given to the Laudato Si’ Action Platforms, where Ecojesuit is currently collaborating with the International Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and partners at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the US in developing proposed guidelines and criteria for Laudato Si’ Universities. This is a multi-month process that will culminate in a formal announcement by the Vatican in 24 May.
The network will continue to engage with other global events and special observances such as Laudato Si’ Week on 16 to 24 May, the launch of the Ignatian Year on 20 May, and Season of Creation on 1 September to 4 October.
Ecojesuit continues to accompany young Jesuits and scholastics in ecological actions through regular dialogues that began in September 2020. This sharing of stories and ideas will be sustained to help deepen each other’s work, and connect and inspire broader Jesuit action.
The full Ecojesuit 2020 Annual Report is available here.