The 2022 Economy of Francesco Global Event kicks off – the harvest after two years.
More than a thousand young people from different parts of the world are in Assisi, Italy for the Economy of Francesco 2022 Global Event from 22 to 24 September, responding to Pope Francis’ call for young economists, entrepreneurs, practitioners, and other changemakers to “give a soul to the economy” and work towards an ecologically responsible economy that cares for all and leaves no one behind.
Day 1 was full of warmth and camaraderie with people connecting with each other in person and not through a computer screen. It was heartwarming to see young people from different contexts and countries welcome each other with open arms and wanting to contribute to a “new season of economic thought and practice.”
The air at the Lyrick Theater in Assisi was full of anticipation and excitement as the Economy of Francesco officially kicked off with a heartfelt opening session. Young people from different parts of the world shared powerful spoken word pieces, echoing the very essence of the Economy of Francesco: “We are the women and men of listening and dialogue, seeking to give soul to the economy.”
Following the opening session, several young people from various disciplines and cultures in the Global South took to the stage to share their stories and expectations for the Economy of Francesco community. Most of them work in finance and business, and it was encouraging to hear their resolve to find ways for an economy that cares for all. “The Economy of Francesco is a bridge that connects various disciplines, a bridge that connects the peripheries and the future, and a bridge that connects young people to a responsible economy,” they echoed.
Young people from conflict areas shared emotional testimonies and calls to combat an economy that fuels war by building trust and peace. Some of them are peace community activists coming from bioregions rich in natural resources and biodiversity that are threatened by extractive industries and megaprojects. Local communities continue to live in fear and uncertainty as many are displaced and even killed. Yet despite the violence and horror that have become their reality, the peace activists shared their stories in mobilizing their communities to defend their rights through peaceful activism and hope. It was a moving moment for all, and the Economy of Francesco community expressed their solidarity with a standing ovation and resounding applause.
Motivated and empowered by the encounter, the community proceeded to build bridges as ongoing projects were shared and ideas exchanged. Possible collaborative actions were sought to identify ways to transform towards an ecologically and socially responsible economy. The projects ranged from a mobile survival game that highlights the social realities in the Congo Basin, policy advocacy movements for the Rights of Nature, and courses on Integral Economics, among others.
As Day 1 ended, the community listened once more as the Economy of Francesco ambassadors shared their hopes and expectations for the young changemakers gathered with these empowering messages:
- Be able to distinguish an economy that cares from an economy of greed.
- The shape of well-being and progress is not linear but balanced.
- Learn to wrestle with uncertainty.
- Cling to the dream of hope and beauty, as beauty is what will save the world.
- We the people are the demand. We have the power to shape the economic system.
- Strengthen civil society alliances to foster structural change.
- Make the connection between faith and technological prowess.
Day 1 officially closed with a performance by the youth of the Seraphic Institute of Assisi. It was a day full of meaningful encounters, and it was truly an honor to listen to the stories, to learn about diverse initiatives and best practices, to connect with young people from other parts of the world, and to be part of a shared global commitment that seeks change.
Criselle Mejillano (lower right), arriving in Assisi, Italy on 21 September with other youth participants, is the Ecojesuit Networking Coordinator and joined The Global Event 2022 of The Economy of Francesco. Criselle is a young staff of the Environmental Science for Social Change, a Jesuit research and training organization in the Philippines. She can be reached through her email email@example.com.