The world is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si. Below are comments from David Nussbaum, Chairperson of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative, reflecting on this important encyclical:
“In its first year, Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si has played a huge role in connecting religions, countries, and people around the need for understanding and addressing together environmental and social problems.
The sub-title of the encyclical itself, calling for the "Care of Our Common Home", is a perfect summary of the powerful message for all of humanity. Broken into its component parts, we see the depth of meaning and thought applied to each word selected by Pope Francis: “Care” as the need for empathetic relationships and mutual assistance among people, with other living beings and with nature; "our" and "common" as an invitation to consider the common good and a sense of community; the "home", to emphasize that the Earth is the place that welcomes us, which is linked to our very existence.
Pope Francis’ letter arrived in a crucial year, encouraging individuals and countries to meet on the importance of sustainable development and to address climate challenge. Having helped build this common ground, at a time in which emergencies and competition create strains between countries and within countries, the encyclical has had a great impact in inspiring nations to come together to achieve two important global agreements.
Last September, 193 governments united around the Sustainable Development Goals, the world's development pathway. Soon thereafter leaders again united to ratify the Paris climate agreement. Joining together to address human development in a way that safeguards our planet and its natural resources is exactly the collaborative spirit Pope Francis calls for.
Laudato Si’s powerful message will go far beyond 2015. Already it has promoted dialogue with other religions and many other faiths have made their own declarations on climate change. It will continue to move consciences and call everyone to a more concrete commitment to accelerate the just transition to a decarbonised world, based on new lifestyles and consumption patterns geared by equity and sustainability, which uses natural resources in a fair, efficient and regenerative way.