Environment Refugees’ Unclear Legal Status: New Approaches Urgently Needed, Study Says

The phenomenon is well known since long, but concrete numbers are rare: more and more people are forced to relocate permanently from their homes, due to environmental degradation and ecosystem losses.

Projections for 2050, released by the International Organization of Migration in 2008, range from 25 million to one billion people displaced by the consequences only of climate change. Their livelihoods are threatened in many ways: farmers lose arable land due to droughts and other extreme weather events whereas islands and coastal areas are affected by devastating storm tides. As a result, people migrate from environments which no longer guarantee food stability and which no longer are hospitable for human civilization.

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European Bishops Ecology Pilgrimage

Around fifty delegates from more than fifteen countries of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe set out on 1st September 2010 from the Basilica of Esztergom, Hungary on a pilgrimage of hope for all creation to the Shrine of Mariazell in Austria, passing through Slovakia where we were welcomed by the Archbishop of Bratislava, Stanislav Zvolenský. The initiative was inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for the World Day of Peace in 2010 entitled If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.

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‘Green’ Bishop Receives Alternative Nobel Prize

A leading figure in Brazil’s environment movement, Erwin Kräutler, is one of the four winners of the Right Livelihood Award 2010, known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’. The 71-year-old Catholic Bishop of Xingu in the Amazon region is honoured for “a lifetime of work for the human and environmental rights of indigenous peoples and for his tireless efforts to save the Amazon forest from destruction”, the prize committee in Stockholm said.

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Corporate Social Responsibility in the Congolese mining companies

Two events have prompted a field mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of the project “Relational Peace Advocacy Network” (RPAN) of OCIPE in June 2010.

First, the CEPAS, our partner in the Congo in the triangulation Brussels – Kinshasa and Washington, organized two workshops on social responsibility of extracting companies; and second, a team of three researchers collected the information necessary for academic research on practices of mining companies in Katanga.

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MDG achievement in 2015 needs to include employment targets

Social investments in MDG achievement must include job and livelihood generation as financing MDG will increasingly depend on public and private investments and not on official development handouts.

With the country’s unemployment rate reaching 8 percent last April, among the highest in Southeast Asia, around 3.1 million of an estimated labor force of 38.5 million were classified as unemployed in April. In January, the unemployment rate stood at 7.3 percent, with 2.8 million of an estimated 38.8 million jobless.

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Amazonia under threat

Today, the predation and violence against indigenous and traditional peoples of the Amazonia continues with the outrageous activity of construction of infrastructures and transport facilities, especially with large projects as the IIRSA (Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America).

The IIRSA emerged at a meeting of Latin American Heads of State held in Brasilia in 2000. They agreed to create a process of political, social and economic development of transport infrastructure, energy and communication across the continent, creating new export routes to reduce transport costs and thus achieve greater competitiveness in world markets. The estimated cost in 2009 was US $ 74,500 million, financed by several regional and international institutions as the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank.

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For whom the bell tolls

Lack of political will and exaggerated expectations could explain the failure to achieve a fair, binding and ambitious agreement at the Copenhagen Conference.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu began the concluding prayer at the ecumenical service on Sunday December the 13th, Copenhagen Cathedral bells started to ring, 350 times. Simultaneously, hundreds of Churches in Denmark joined the Cathedral bells – also ringing 350 times. 350 is a symbolic number for environment campaigners: 350 parts per million is deemed the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so as to avoid runaway climate change.

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Faith and the Environment: European Parliament Conference on Caritas in Veritate

Frank Turner participated in the conference in the European Parliament about the Encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” jointly organized by the European Popular Group and the Commission of the Bishops of European Union (COMECE).

Taking up a point that has been raised indirectly today, but not discussed directly, I want to add a preliminary note about ‘Catholic Social Teaching’ (henceforth ‘CST’) as a genre: about documents such as Caritas in Veritate, and how we best read them. Such documents have a key role in the Church – and have some inherent limitations, just as to choose any mode of writing is to accept certain opportunities and certain limitations. In particular, an encyclical is neither a work of political analysis, nor a work of theology as such: it is precisely teaching.

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Making aid efficient and coherent

The European Court of Auditors recently published a series of reports analysing different schemes of aid and development cooperation, and demonstrating the need for modifications affecting the EU’s future commitments.

Such tragedies as that of the Haitian earthquake tend to stimulate massively generous impulses, but longer-term questioning about how efficient is the international response. Coincidentally the European Court of Auditors has recently released three reports that focus on different dimensions of the European commitment to aid and development.

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