Pacific voices heard at Vatican Climate Change Conference

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New Zealanders and people from Pacific Island nations were among representatives from all over the world attending the International Conference “Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth” at the Vatican July 5-6 to commemorate Pope Francis’s encyclical on the Care of Creation.

The conference was attended by faith leaders, youth activists, leading scientists, frontline community representatives and senior political figures.

Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands spoke at the opening of the conference.

Joe Moeono-Kolio from New Zealand spoke at the closing plenary session.

When he addressed the conference, Pope Francis said: “We all know that much still needs to be done to implement that [Paris] Agreement.”

“All governments should strive to honour the commitments made in Paris, in order to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.

“All of these actions,” Pope Francis said, “presuppose a transformation on a deeper level, namely a change of hearts and minds.”

He reiterated Pope St John Paul’s calls for an “ecological conversion,” and emphasised the role of religions, and especially Christianity, in working to that end.

The pope stressed the importance of making space for young people and indigenous peoples in efforts “to foster an integral ecology.”

In his conclusion, he said that despite the presence of special interests which make those efforts seem arduous, “Please continue to work for the radical change which present circumstances require. For injustice is not invincible.”

Reflecting on her experience, Brianna Fruean, an Auckland university student, said “For me, Pope Francis’ calling to build citizen pressure ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit is a call for people to rise up for our islands, for vulnerable communities, for those on the front lines of climate impacts and for our common home.”

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News category: Asia Pacific, New Zealand, Top Story.

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