Vatican calls for urgent action on climate change and hunger
Graziano Da Silva spoke at a dialogue event held ahead of the upcoming Paris COP21 conference on climate change (30 November–11 December). “If we don’t reach a deal there, all the Sustainable Development Goals will be at risk,” he said, referring to 17 pledges international leaders recently agreed to achieve by 2030.
Several high-ranking Vatican officials attended the meeting in Rome, , which focused on Laudato Sir, the encyclical letter released by Pope Francis last June.
The encyclical views the crisis of hunger and poverty and the environment as one single crisis and claims the solution requires strong cooperative action to protect the “common home” of humans and nature.
“There is a set of inalienable human rights that are violated every day and climate change will only exacerbate these injustices,” Graziano da Silva said, speaking about the 800 million people who continue to suffer from chronic hunger and the nearly 160 million children under the age 5 who are stunted.
Da Silva also noted that the world’s 50 poorest countries are expected to be among the most affected by climate change. “These countries have not created the problem. In fact, they are responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions”, he said.
Eradicating hunger, a moral imperative
Promising food for all is, for all religions, not a policy choice, noted Cardinal Pter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, President of the Pontificial Council for Justice and Peace and one of the Vatican’s leading experts on the encyclical. “Eradicating hunger is not a high priority but a moral imperative,” he said at the dialogue.
The cardinal emphasized that for most people food and agriculture have become de-linked, effectively raising the risk that humans inherit a garden ... [but]… bequeath a desert.”
Other participants at the event, organized by the Vatican Mission to the Rome-based UN agencies, included Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontificial Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Rome-based UN agencies.
Looking ahead to COP21, Mons. Chica said it was important to avoid “partial solutions” and adopt paths that included the points of view of all constituencies and sectors.