Paris for the People and the Planet: Faith Agencies Event

logo-cop21 Deal with it! People, Rights, Justice is the title of the Side Event to be presented at the Paris Climate Change Event on Monday, 7 December. Presenters include Caritas International, Friends of the Earth International and the German Catholic Bishops Development Agency. Pope Francis’ encylical Laudato Si is a foundational document for this session.


Deal with it! People, Rights, Justice

A bad deal in Paris will worsen inequality and affect peoples’ rights to dignified and sustainable lives. Echoing Pope Francis’ call to respect Earth’s natural boundaries and protect ecosystems, speakers will present lessons learnt and assess how far the deal will reflect climate justice principles.

Speakers: CIDSE, Caritas Internationalis, Misereor and Friends of the Earth International representatives; plus other civil society organizations;

Paris for the People and the Planet

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This publication by CIDSE – an international alliance of 17 Catholic development agencies – sets what we want to see from the Paris agreement as the first step to strong global action. This is based on the evidence from our partners and poor communities of how a changing climate is impacting on them. It is based on an ethical approach, inspired by Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on Care for Our Common Home.1 This calls on governments to consider the moral dimension of political decision, placing the poorest communities who are suffering the most from climate change impacts at the centre of the debate. This report outlines CIDSE’s vision for what the Encyclical means for the Paris agreement.

The Papal Encyclical calls on governments to integrate all political decisions within a moral and ethical dimension putting at the centre the poorest communities who are suffering the most from climate change impacts. CIDSE is calling to move towards a just, equitable and sustainable use and distribution of global resources by citizens of the world. Addressing the global over-exploitation of finite natural resources requires limits to overall consumption. Economic paradigms need reshaping in order to uphold human creativity, social inclusion, gender equality and democratic political culture. New models of development would ensure access to clean and safe energy, food, water, healthcare and education.

As Pope Francis says: we are one human family, sharing all of Creation, globally interdependent and “faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” (139)

We need to combine our calls towards policy makers with a change coming from individuals. This call for a paradigm shift is reflected in the CIDSE campaign, Change for the Planet – Care for the People, whose aim is to spark and enable a radical change in people’s lifestyles towards living simply by reducing overall energy consumption and making environmentally friendly food choices. People-led initiatives are blossoming world-wide and demonstrate that people are willing to make the changes that politicians are still afraid to call for. Download link is below.

Caring for Our Common Home

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Our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us … This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. – LAUDATO SI’, PARAS 1-2.

Two of the strongest cyclones to hit Oceania in recorded history struck this year, while heavy and unseasonable rainfall created havoc in other parts of our region. Beyond the headlines of such disasters, numerous small communities throughout our region continue to cope with the impact of changing weather, as well as disruptive changes to coast lines caused by rising seas and larger storm surges.

Incremental changes to food supplies and production have not yet caused large scale hunger, but food security in the Pacific is vulnerable to sudden shocks, and in many cases subsistence living is being replaced with dependence on imported foods.

While the world becomes more aware of the need to urgently reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, the seabed under the Pacific ocean is becoming the latest mining frontier.

And as climate-change-related aid becomes a billion dollar industry, and a range of projects are undertaken in the Pacific, Caritas continues to see that many vulnerable Pacific communities are untouched by this activity, and are left to battle by themselves on the front lines of rising sea levels. In August 2015, the Federation of Catholic Bishops of Oceania expressed deep concern about rising sea levels, ocean acidification and unusual rainfall patterns. “These are affecting many of our communities in a harmful way. In some cases, entire regions and nations are under threat from the indisputable fact of rising sea levels,” they said. You may download “Caring for our Common Home from the link below.

Small, yet Strong

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Kuilani Fa’asolo of Caritas Tonga in Kolonga, Tongatapu. CARITAS Kuilani Fa’asolo of Caritas Tonga in Kolonga, Tongatapu. CARITAS islands and atolls, to bush-clad mountainous countries such as Papua New Guinea, to the large and complex economies of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

However, what communities have in common across the region is experience of widespread environmental changes – observable on a daily basis over large parts of the Oceania landscape. But the peoples of Oceania are not sitting back as passive observers. They are exercising their traditional kaitiakitanga or guardianship of their lands, waters and resources, as best they can and often under very difficult circumstances.

As a Catholic agency, Caritas understands the environment as God’s gift, to be treasured and protected for the sake of the poorest and most vulnerable, both today and for future generations. God entrusted all of creation to human responsibility, charging us to care for its harmony and development. This includes appropriate use of science and technology, in such a way that respects men and women, and all other living creatures.

The Bishops of Oceania have a long record of speaking out on environmental issues, asking us to practise responsible and loving stewardship of God’s creation. Pope John Paul II represented this concern in his letter to the Church of Oceania Ecclesia in Oceania, reminding us of our special responsibility as guardians of the Pacific Ocean on behalf of all humanity. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the Catholic Bishops have reminded us that those most affected by environmental issues such as climate change are often those who have contributed the least to it. In his inaugural homily last year, Pope Francis called on us all to “be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment”. You can download Small yet Strong at the link below.

Flyer [910 kb]
CIDSE COP21 policy positions [1 Mb]
Report on Climate Change in Oceania [3 Mb]
Report – Voices from Oceania on the Environment – 2014 [2 Mb]

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Christchurch Blakenhall, St Francis of Assisi by Aidan McRae Thomson & Noel Sinclair May 2010.
St Francis is Patron Saint of the Environment

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