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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Holy See at UNESCO: the importance of education on climate change

Vatican City, 11 November 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Francesco Follo, Holy See permanent observer at UNESCO, addressed the 38th General Conference of this body, which took place from 25 October to 10 November in Paris.

“UNESCO is heavily involved in the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 21) and I am sure that the Organisation, through its Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development, plays and will continue to play a very important role in making education in climate change a central and visible element of the international response to this theme. Therefore, the Holy See welcomes with satisfaction … the UNESCO Road Map for the implementation of the programme. Its objective is to help people understand the impact of global warming and to familiarise the young, in particular, with climate change. In order to achieve this, the programme strengthens Member States' capacity to guarantee a quality education in climate change, to encourage innovative education approaches to incorporating education in climate change in school curricula, and to promote awareness of climate change as well as the strengthening of informal education programmes through the communication media, networks and associations”.

Archbishop Follo commented that the 70th anniversary of UNESCO offered a good opportunity to take stock of our history and to reflect on our common future, responding to the Holy Father's urgent invitation to engage in a “new dialogue on the way in which we are constructing the future of the planet” and to promote “an 'ecological' education that must take into account the ethics of life and dialogue”.

This dialogue begins with “becoming aware that inhabiting the earth means living 'in her' with respect, sobriety and simplicity in terms of what we require, take and receive from her”. But we should also live 'with her and care for her'. … A human attitude that derives from work and the assumption of responsibility is required.

Indeed, it is important not to forget that the relationship between humanity and nature “is synthesized by work. In effect, on the one hand nature is the expression of a design of love and truth. It precedes us and was given to us by God as a living environment, Who established it according to an intrinsic order to guide man in cultivating and maintaining it”. With regard to responsibility, “in simple terms, we all know where we area, and in equally simple terms, we all know where we wish to go: we must leave the earth habitable, or render it newly habitable for future generations if we have ransacked it”.

“This purpose is inspired by the encyclical “Laudato si'” that Pope Francis dedicated to our common home”, concluded Archbishop Follo, citing Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who had encouraged the development of a “human ecology”, since “intelligence requires us to respect others as well as the home where we live. … Pope Francis says that intelligence also commands us to respect our common home as by doing so, we demonstrate our love for our neighbour”.

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