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Everything is Connected – Our Shared Future

Note: We want to share these blogs which have been adapted from “Our Common Home,” a joint initiative of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development along with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). This is the seventh blog in a series of eight.

Our Shared Future

“A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice.” (Laudato Si’, 49)

Social justice and human rights are woven through all of today’s most pressing environmental issues. Those who contribute least to environmental harm often suffer its worst effects.

Equity and fairness are also often at the heart of solutions. We cannot solve global warming, for example, without facing questions of who is most responsible for it.

And women’s rights must take a central place: When women are educated and empowered, we see better environmental outcomes.

Environment, Social Justice Cannot be Separated

The overuse of natural resources by industrialized nations means that poorer countries have paid a heavy price for the development of the richer world.

Climate change is a clear example: Richer countries are most responsible for it, but it is the poor and marginalized who are suffering the worst impacts.

Biodiversity and agriculture are also tied to justice and equality. As industry and intensive agriculture have advanced, the land rights of peoples who have long been stewards of our most biodiverse environments – small scale farmers and indigenous peoples – have often been ignored.

The Marginalized are Affected the Most

Climate impacts, such as sea-level rise, extreme weather and lower crop yields, will affect the poor the most.

By 2050, more than 140 million people in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia could be forced to migrate because of the climate crisis.

Everyone has the right to clean air and water, yet the poorest in rapidly growing cities are very often deprived of both and are most exposed to pollution.

And young people will have to live with the consequences of choices made today, so they need a greater role in decision-making now.

What needs to Change?

At the same time as eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, we must adapt to climate change impacts and build community resilience, especially for the most vulnerable.

We can restore and conserve ecosystems, build infrastructure to protect against storm surges and sea-level rise, and develop drought-resistant crops.

As we shift away from a fossil-fuel economy, we must also ensure a “just transition,” which offers security and opportunity to those who stand to lose from change.

And advocating strongly for ecological justice is vital for building a resilient, equitable world.

Let’s Take Action

• Pope Francis urges us to “hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (Laudato Si’, 49). What needs do the poor have in Indianapolis, California, West Terre Haute, Terre Haute, Indiana, Chicago and surrounding environs that cry out to our Providence Community for action?
• How can we help people, especially the young, face a challenging future with confidence, competence and hope? How can we ensure that marginalized groups have a strong voice?
• The climate emergency is an opportunity for us to come together as one. How can we help those affected by ecological crises? What programs or policies can address long-standing injustice? In the 2024 elections, how will our votes impact climate justice outcomes?
• How do social justice realities find a place in my prayer life as well as in my concrete actions and advocacy?

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Dicastery for Integral Human Development

Dicastery for Integral Human Development

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in collaboration with the Stockholm Environment Institute, created "Our Common Home."

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