With the theme on human sensitivity and justice, solidarity, and open vision, the 3rd Asosiasi Perguruan Tinggi Katolik (APTIK) International Conference on Environment and Poverty on 8 to 9 September 2023 at the Universitas Sanata Dharma in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, aims to provide a discussion venue for those disturbed by the problems of environment and poverty and to share ideas on how an open vision can be enabled in responding to the socioecological crises. Conference participants come from higher education institutions, civil society organizations, research institutions, and faith-based organizations, among others.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the deep-seated structural inequalities and as Father General Arturo Sosa shared in The Preferences in a time of uncertainty and COVID-19, social injustice is still the greater virus. The destruction of the environment and ignorant deeds about poverty are the phenomena, culturally and not naturally, and the struggles to overcome these are obviously compulsory. Individuals and groups who hold the power must absolutely understand that these phenomena are due to the exercises of uncontrolled injustice.
What is needed therefore is a greater sensitivity and care for justice, solidarity, and open vision in improving the quality of life and human dignity.
Pedro Walpole SJ, Global Coordinator of Ecojesuit, delivers a keynote address at the conference in response to the key question on what open vision must be worked with in breaking the nexus of environmental degradation and social poverty. With this, the different global tensions – ecological, social, and political – need to be highlighted in the shared mission of justice, peace, and accompaniment of youth and the most vulnerable.
As the world prepares for the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) convened by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on 30 November to 12 December in Dubai, UAE, there is a genuine challenge to form a national lobby, to uplift the social voices, and to critically confront the urgencies in the Global South.
Any serious “mitigation” or realignment of the injustices of social and environmental vulnerability is not a simple act, but a complex and collective decision that must radically convert the economic model as one that serves people’s needs and not simply profit. At the same time, this economic model cannot be one that is based on the principle of sustained growth as resources are now reaching their limits. Global society needs to face reduced consumption if it is to respond with the urgency needed. Furthermore, the political polarization of the present times has to transform into collective processes that engage the political will in seeking the common good.
Fr Walpole is coming from the context of coordinating the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network on Ecology or Ecojesuit, an international network of social institutions that increasingly engages with educational institutions. He is also a member of the Task Force on Economic and Environment Justice of the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) that tackles the key elements in his presentation.
If ecological sustainability and inclusion of the poor are sought, it is imperative that there is an integral and sustainable relation in this global biome.
Ecojesuit continues to learn and redefine its role as an Ignatian advocacy network in the context of such tensions and dynamics. This is a challenge that has a deep faith in people’s openness and willingness to change personal and social practices, and to commit to the transformation necessary.
There is a simple question raised in the recent De Statu Societatis (The State of the Society of Jesus) by Fr Sosa that serves as a critical guide: “How far is it possible to identify with the poor in their struggle for justice, which inevitably involves political structures?”