Thursday, November 16, 2017

Greetings to the COP-23 delegates

The Holy Father has sent a Message to His Excellency, Mister Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of the Fiji Islands, who is presiding over the 23rd session of the Conference of States who are participants in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-23) which is taking place in Bonn (Germany) from 6 to 17 November 2017.  The Holy Father's Message was read aloud yesterday during the working session.

Message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to participants taking part in the
COP-23 Climate Change Conference

To His Excellency, Mister Frank Bainimarama
Prime Minister of the Fiji Islands
President of the 23rd session of the Conference of States
participating in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-23)

Bonn, 6-17 November 2017

Your Excellency,

A little less than two years ago, the international community was gathered in the UNFCCC forum, with a great number of high-level governmental representatives, and following a long and complex debate, arrived at the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement.  This brought about a consensus concerning the necessity to adopt a common strategy in order to face one of the most preoccupying phenomena that humanity has ever experienced: climate change.

Willingness to follow up on this consensus was then made apparent by the rapidity with which the Paris Accord itself entered into effect, less than one year after its adoption.

The Agreement indicates a clear process of transition toward a model of low or no carbon economic development, encouraging solidarity and building on the close links between the fight for climate change and the fight against poverty.  This transition was then relaunched by the climate emergency, which called for a greater commitment on the part of all countries, some of which must seek to assume leadership roles to guide the transition, having the needs of the most vulnerable populations always close to heart.

These days, you are gathered in Bonn to continue another important phase of the Paris Agreement: the process of defining and constructing the lines of conduct, rules and institutional mechanisms, so that they may truly be effective and able to contribute to the pursuit of the complex objectives that have been set out.  In such a process, it is necessary that you maintain the willingness to collaborate.

From this perspective, I wish to remind you of my urgent invitation to a new dialogue concerning the way we build the future of the planet.  We need a conversion that will unite us all, since the environmental challenge that we are experiencing and its human roots, concern us and affect us all ...  Unfortunately, many efforts at seeking concrete solutions to the environmental crisis often fail (for various reasons that) range from negation of the problem to indifference, easy resignation, or blind trust in technical solutions (Encyclical, Laudato si', 14).

We will have to avoid falling into these four perverse attitudes, which certainly do not help honest research and sincere and fruitful dialogue concerning the building of the future of our planet; denial, indifference, resignation and unsuitable solutions.

Moreover, we cannot limit ourselves to merely economic or technological dimensions: technical solutions are needed but not enough; it is also essential and fair to attentively take into consideration the ethnic and social aspects and impacts of the new paradigm of development and the progress that is made in the short, medium and long terms.

In this perspective, it seems ever more necessary that we pay attention to education and to various lifestyles imbued with an integral ecology, able to assume a vision of honest research and open dialogues where different dimensions of the Paris Accord intertwine.  It is good to remember that this agreement recalls our grave responsibility ... to act without delay, in the freest way possible with respect to the political and economic pressures, by surpassing the expectations and behaviours of individuals (cf Message to the COP-22 gathering).  In concrete terms, it is a matter of propagating a responsible conscience toward our common home (cf Laudato si', 202, 231) through the contribution of all peoples, in an attempt to explain different forms of action and partnerships between various stakeholders, some of whom do not hesitate to point out the talents of human beings in favour of the common good.

While sending my greetings to you, Mister President, and to all the participants taking part in this Conference, I wish that, under your influential leadership and that of the Fiji Islands, the work of these days may be led by the same spirit of collaboration and proposal that was demonstrated during COP-21; this will accelerate awareness and strengthen the will to make truly effective decisions to combat climate change and, in this context, combat poverty and promote true integral human development.  May the wise providence of the Most High support you in this commitment!

From the Vatican
7 November 2017

(original text in French)

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