A. Context in preparation for the day: The proposal for a green economy and its serious risks and challenges
One of the basic premises underlying the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, is the concept of a “green economy.” Most reflections, contributions, and areas of work of this international event revolve around this concept. However, we must accept that the concept of a green economy merely underpinned by the free market and sustaining and reproducing the current model of development, clearly demonstrated its limitations and led to increased poverty and injustice in relation to the distribution of resources and goods. Our perspective as believers should be based on the approach of the Social Doctrine of the Church that speaks of searching for another model. It is equally important to anticipate the already noticeable areas of discussion around Rio+20; the green economy is spoken of as a new model, but it is integrated into the vision of the free market that has proved a useless tool in the reduction of poverty and inequality, since its purpose is to generate profit, regardless of the social consequences.
B. Key phrase: “Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts” (Gaudium et Spes n.1).
C. Core text for pastoral reflection:
“Nature, especially in our time, is so integrated into the dynamics of society and culture that by now it hardly constitutes an independent variable… The hoarding of resources, especially water, can generate serious conflicts among the peoples involved… In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical, and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity… to guarantee the protection of the environment” (CIV 51 and 67).
“The supremacy of technology tends to prevent people from recognizing anything that cannot be explained in terms of matter alone. Yet everyone experiences the many immaterial and spiritual dimensions of life… In every truth there is something more than we would have expected, in the love that we receive there is always an element that surprises us” (CIV 77).
D. Reflection guide
- What are the underlying causes of this situation?
- How do we contribute with our lifestyles, decisions or omissions to this situation?
- What significant examples of environmental defence or promotion do we see in our surroundings? What strikes us most? What can we learn from them?
- Is the concept of the green economy really a new model? What are the limitations and dangers associated with it? And what alternatives can we propose?
E. Closing prayer: All praise be yours, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs. The second death can do them no harm. Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks and serve him with great humility. (St Francis of Assisi)
F. Support material: Baraka (3/7)