The protection of God’s creation in the focus of the World Youth Day

Corrado Clini

The opening of the World Youth Day will see the presentation of the Manifesto “THE YOUNG STEWARDS OF GOD’S CREATION. THE FUTURE ON A HUMAN SCALE THAT WE WANT"

The Manifesto is a very demanding document as it considers as a framework reference the future environmental scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). 

The Manifesto reiterates the alarm launched by these institutions and by the international scientific community, and stresses that the appeals of researchers for the protection of the environment of the planet can no longer be neglected.

Specifically, the manifesto reminds that we are running the risk of having the same temperature change in the next hundred years that has, in other geological eras, occurred over a period of twenty thousand years, and in other words with a process that is two hundred times faster, due to the emissions of greenhouse gases that are growing at unprecedented rates: the quantity of these gases present in the atmosphere today is higher than it has ever been in the last three million years. “Melting glaciers, sea-level rise and acidification of the oceans, deforestation, draught and extreme climatic events are endangering vast areas of the planet, especially the poorest one, and could cause devastating damages, especially to the 600 million people who live only one meter above sea level.

The cause of these phenomena is the growing demand for energy in order to meet emerging economies’ need for development and the shortage of fresh water.

The right to development of more than two-thirds of the world’s population, which demands to get out of poverty, must be solved with clean technologies capable of supplying energy and water.

At the onset of the third millennium we have the possibility to support this right by using the discoveries that the science of the third millennium has made available.

On the contrary, we have a well-founded impression that while our knowledge is expanding, we are becoming less and less able to distinguish good and evil. We are in other words running the risk of becoming technological giants, but moral dwarfs.”

The Manifesto is an absolute novelty also because it connects the lesson on the ‘protection of God’s creation’ of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis with the conclusions of the World Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro last year, i.e. ‘the future we want’.

The environmental crisis is an ethical problem because “trend is not destiny”, and inverting the trend requires that we assume moral responsibilities and take political and economic decisions based on the “stewardship of God’s creation”, in order not to deprive the young generations of their future and hopes.

This is the invitation that Pope Francis has, since the very first days of his papacy, addressed to everyone. This is the commitment that the international community has assumed at the end of Rio+20, identifying the “green growth” of the world economy as the best way to both eradicating poverty and protecting the environment.

When I was Minister of the Environment I have done my utmost towards assuring that the RIO+20 conference would be concluded with an agreement “for the future”, and I have promoted the preparation of the Manifesto together with the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

I hope that the World Youth Day of Rio de Janeiro will produce the moral impetus necessary to concretize the commitments of Rio+20.

My hope has its “strong point” in Pope Francis, whose name evokes the Saint who taught us to call the water and the sun brothers and sisters, and to respect all God’s creation and the environment in which they live, and in which we ourselves live together with them.