The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Archbishop Charles Balvo, told the United Nations Environment Assembly, that failure to curb pollution could prove catastrophic. “Humanity is at a turning point, a moment when it is confronted both with the enormous challenges as well as the opportunity of addressing air, water, soil and land pollution that threaten the existence of our planet”, said Archbishop Balvo, as he delivered the Holy See’s statement to the 3rd session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3).
‘Towards a pollution-free planet’, was the overarching theme of this year’s Assembly. The Holy See further appealed for a reduction in “carbon emissions, which pollute the air and other chemical waste that pollutes the water and the land”.
“The Holy See is convinced that it is in the best interest of all, to address the causes that lead to pollution, for the promotion of sustainable human environment, which will lead us towards more efficient stewardship of our common home”, said Archbishop Balvo, as he urged the Assembly to “continue the process of creating more robust global mechanisms, in order to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving successful global environmental change, adaptation and governance”.
In the encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home Pope Francis gave prominence to the problem of pollution. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”, observes Pope Francis, adding that “these problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish”.
The Holy See further noted that education and training are critical in ensuring that the entire system of production and distribution, is structured in such a way, that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life. “Nothing will happen unless political and technical solutions are accompanied, by a process of education, which proposes a new way of living, a new culture”, stressed Archbishop Balvo in his address. “Any harm done to the environment therefore is harm done to humanity”, noted the Archbishop, as he further called on the UNEA to put special emphasis in addressing “the misuse and destruction of the environment, uncontrolled industrialization and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, as well as an end to consumerism and the culture of waste”.
In reiterating the message of Pope Francis concerning humanity’s valuable relationship with nature, the Holy See’s delegation reminded the Assembly that “the environment itself entails ethical limits, which human activity must acknowledge and respect”.
UNEA-3 was held at the United Nations Offices in Nairobi, from the 4th to the 6th of December 2017. The Holy See has observer status at the UN Environment Assembly, and is currently represented by Archbishop Balvo who is also the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan.
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