The Vatican announced this week that it will host a one-day conference on climate change on April 28, featuring some of the world’s leading climate scientists. The conference is titled Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity and is subtitled “The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.”
The conference will highlight “the intrinsic connection between respect for the environment and respect for people—especially the poor, the excluded, victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, children and future generations,” states a Vatican announcement.
The purpose of the conference, according to the Vatican announcement, is to help build a global movement across all religions for sustainable development and climate change throughout 2015 and beyond.
Besides climate scientists, the one-day summit will include participants from major world religions. The aim here, says the Vatican, is to “elevate the debate on the moral dimensions of protecting the environment in advance of the papal encyclical.”
The Pope’s much-anticipated encyclical on the environment is expected in late June.
The April 28 conference is just the latest in what many are calling Pope Francis’s “green agenda.” The Holy Father has become an outspoken advocate on environmental issues, saying acting on climate change is “essential to faith” and has called the destruction of nature a modern sin.
In September, Pope Francis will visit the U.S. and address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Then he will address the U.S. Congress on a side visit to Washington, DC. No doubt it will be interesting to see what Pope Francis has to say to one of the most powerful governing bodies on Earth about the issue of climate change.
Following those visits, many will be watching to see if his encyclical will influence the international climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.
AGENDA for Conference Summit at the Vatican
Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity:
The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development
CASINA PIO IV • VATICAN CITY • 28 APRIL 2015
Organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, SDSN and Religions for Peace, the goals of this summit are to:
— Raise awareness and build a consensus that the values of sustainable development cohere with values of the leading religious traditions, with a special focus on the most vulnerable;
— Elevate the debate on the moral dimensions of protecting the environment in advance of the papal encyclical; and
— Help build a global movement across all religions for sustainable development and climate change throughout 2015 and beyond.
The desired outcome is a joint statement on the moral and religious imperative of sustainable development, highlighting the intrinsic connection between respect for the environment and respect for people – especially the poor, the excluded, victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, children, and future generations.
10:30 – 11:00
Welcome by H.E. Msgr. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo,
Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Opening addresses by:
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
Cardinal Peter Turkson, President, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
11:00 – 11:15
Brief statements by:
Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network
William Vendley, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace
President Margaret Archer, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences
Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Pontifical Academy of Sciences
11:20 Panel 1: Technical aspects (evidence on social exclusion and climate science)
12:50 Lunch at Casina Pio IV
2:00 Panel 2: Justice and Responsibility (leading representatives from the major religions)
3:30 Panel 3: Practical aspects from local to global (proposed solutions and follow up)
5:00 Panel 4: Eliminate human trafficking and resettle its victims (next steps towards sustainable development)
6:00 Discussion of Joint Statement
According to the conference planners, they hope the attendees can offer a joint statement highlighting the “intrinsic connection” between caring for the earth and caring for fellow human beings, “especially the poor, the excluded, victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, children, and future generations.”