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  • Cardinal Charles Maung Bo  https://youtu.be/wNhGUh_WGz8   Dear friends, greetings from Myanmar. Mingalarbar. It is with great joy that I wish to be part of this great deliberation on Community, Faith, and Nature: Voices from Oceania and Asia at the Forefront of Climate Reconciliation. I address two major issues. One is on how Asian communities experience climate change and what lessons on reconciliation and hope can we draw from these community experiences. And the second is on what changes and critical actions do Asian communities need to see as we move towards COP26 and beyond. Time is running out. As pointed out by the organizers, science tells us that we only have until 2030 to drastically reduce our emissions. Oceans produce 70-85% of the world’s oxygen, and in Oceania and Asia, we have the Pacific Ocean which is the biggest climate determinant. Ocean and forest communities, especially Indigenous Peoples in Asia and Oceania, are at the forefront of the impact, action, and the response to the climate crisis. Covid is teaching us a grim lesson. Respect nature or perish. It is not theoretical gymnastics when we saw thousands dying, with the lack of oxygen as the problem. Oxygen that was once freely available is now monetized. Out of the five elements – air, water, light, land, and space – three have already been commodified. The ruthless exploitation has made life intolerable to millions, impoverishing millions and endangering inter-generational survivors. So, this meeting in Asia is very important. I’m happy that the role of Indigenous communities in protecting and promoting the health of the nature is brought to greater attention. Pope Francis has shown that the Indigenous cultures have so much to teach us in the “modern” world in protecting the only planet of life we know. Asia has a great role to play in this and is one of the continents where a huge number of Indigenous Peoples live. From the shores of the South China Sea to the central parts of India, there’s a huge mass of land once occupied by Indigenous Peoples and that land was once called Zomia. (Editor’s note: Zomia is a region described by James C Scott in his book, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia [Yale University Press, 2009].) Living among the most vibrant rainforest areas, these people were the guardians of the lands of Asia. Their plight today is miserable, exploited by the market economy, ideologies, and authoritarian discourse of civilization. These communities have been reduced to ecological refugees, stripped of their living systems and their survival space. Call it ecological genocide, but the bleak fact remains that a violent injustice was inflicted on these people by nation states in collusion with the market forces. Asian Indigenous Peoples are the wounded healers. Covid was a siren, warning us that the continued disturbance of the ecosystem will boomerang. As many sources pointed out, Covid jumped from animal sources to humans and have affected at least 30 species in the animal kingdom. The third strain is wreaking havoc even in rich countries. The plight of poor countries especially Asia and Africa is a visceral agony. Asia’s countries have invested more in arms than in health and have more soldiers than health professionals. Pope Francis has shown a powerful light on the ecological and inter-generational injustice that prevails. A craven generation steals from the present poor and the future generation. An “ecological” model that abuses nature and does not consider generations to follow is perpetrated by a minority. As the world continues to bury more than three million people, it has failed to learn lessons from the voices from the graves. Covid is just a window dressing of a huge natural disaster including pandemics waiting to happen. The link between ravishing the biosphere and the virus outbreak is becoming clearer day by day. The warmest climate days in the planet are recorded in this year. Areas that knew no hot summer are roasting. The Arctic region is experiencing ice quakes as millions of tons of ice are melted. I am grateful to the organizers, Ecojesuit, the global ecological network of Jesuits and partners, and the River above Asia and Oceania Ecclesial Network (RAOEN), that proposed a joint dialogue event during the Asia Pacific Climate Week to highlight the role of interconnected Indigenous communities, faith, and nature in climate reconciliation. The role of faith-based organizations is recognized with great urgency and driven by the prophet of ecology, our Pope Francis and his trendsetting encyclical Laudato Si’. The world rises to greater awareness of the ecology. The modern youth lead the way in refusing to accept the exploitative commodification of natural resources. In this global struggle, all cultures need to learn from the lives and belief systems of Indigenous Peoples. The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) has been working on mainstreaming the ecological concerns into the spiritual and the community consciousness of Catholic communities in various countries. We are aware that many of the Indigenous communities are also faith-based communities. Of the 16 dioceses in my country, 14 are made up of Indigenous ethnic communities. Pope Francis has always impressed upon the Church to learn from Indigenous communities and be grateful for their contribution. He met with the Indigenous Peoples in Peru in 2018 and thanked them, saying that their lives cry out against a style of life that is oblivious to its own real cost. They are a living memory of the mission that the God has entrusted to us all, the protection of our common home. The first disposition of the Church in Asia is to listen to the Indigenous Peoples. Pope Francis organized the Amazon synod with a central theme – that the Church humbly hears the cry of the Amazon and its people. We need to be grateful to the people who protect the lungs of the earth. We need to move towards and beyond COP26. An ecological Covid has affected the lungs of the earth […]

  • Ecojesuit and the River Above Asia Oceania Ecclesial Network (RAOEN) are hosting a joint dialogue on 6 July 2021 to highlight the interconnected roles of indigenous communities, faith, and nature in climate reconciliation. Community, Faith, and Nature: Voices from Oceania and Asia at the Forefront of Climate Reconciliation is an official side event to the UNFCCC Asia Pacific Climate Week, in line with the thematic track Integrated approaches for climate resilient development. Extreme weather events and degradation of life systems in our oceans and lands have moved beyond risks and threats and are already happening. This event seeks to promote support for low-carbon actions and practices that many indigenous communities live out through agroecology as a Nature-based Solution (NbS) This natural local response that is not driven by technology draws its strength from a shared gratitude for creation and the environment that is in solidarity with local needs and the common good. These are the voices that faith-based organizations (FBOs) and movements are listening to in sustaining a reconciliation with the sea and the land. Science tells us that we only have until 2030 to drastically reduce our emissions (IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, 2018). Oceans produce 70-85% of the world’s oxygen and in Oceania and Asia, the Pacific Ocean is the biggest climate determinant. Ocean and forest communities, especially Indigenous Peoples in Oceania and Asia, are at the forefront of the impact and action in response to the climate crisis. They are leading in the struggle for NbS while living in areas where the worst impacts of the climate crisis are deeply felt. They articulate the most urgent need for climate adaptations and highlight the response needed to address the problem at the core, and their voices, not just global corporations, need to be heard more in global discussions. Addressing the climate crisis will only be possible if Pacific and Asian communities work together and engage in meaningful dialogue that promotes shared learning and collaboration. Oceania and Asia have a unique opportunity to set a global example in broadening the climate dialogue by leveraging on the diversity of cultures and faiths in the regions. In the process, voices from the ground are empowered, especially the youth, women, and Indigenous Peoples. They are the “disruptors” in the global climate conversations that FBOs are supporting through years of community accompaniment. This engagement also echoes the urgent call for a radical shift in the business-as-usual leadership in climate action by emphasizing local and indigenous voices, actions, and stories as solutions and ways forward, not just interesting anecdotes. As well, recovery from the interrelated COVID-19 and climate crises cannot happen without addressing the nexus of climate, water, food, biodiversity, and culture. The global response needs to be in the rapid reduction of carbon and climate action financing while indigenous communities need a reduction of their vulnerabilities in their social environment so they can focus on the local responses needed. Indigenous Peoples and FBOs have a capacity to respond as they are action-oriented with a shared gratitude for creation and a basic recognition of the common good. To register for the event, visit: bit.ly/APCWJointDialogue

  • The Ignatian family, with its collaborators and partners, comes together in this collective statement, Towards COP26: Advocating for Climate Justice, A Commitment from the Ignatian Family, (English | Español | Français | Italiano) to change and for change, an awakening at a time of massive global challenges that upended all spheres of human life and activities. The world stood still as the virus spread, and had to work together to respond. The climate crisis is likewise spreading as the planet warms, and COP26 in November seeks commitments from all nations and peoples to act and avert the Earth’s deterioration, resonating with the theme for Earth Day 2021: Restore our earth. Thus, this is a crucial time for a commitment by which we need to stay engaged in all discussions by integrating the different concerns that reflect the same issues. There are those who signed this document and are dealing with migration, with the raw poverty from the margins, with good governance, with economy and human development, food insecurity, health safety, biodiversity loss and protection, disaster risk reduction, and human rights for all, among many others. All these elements have a role as we are all asked to work together towards common but differentiated responses. The calls for change and action cut across all our ministries and there is a great willingness from those who have been working on climate action and climate justice. We need to expand this awakened willingness to commit by strengthening and supporting the “integratedness” of the different concerns and calls for action. All these are phases and dimensions faced in COP26 and we all need to find ways to highlight these and put strong support behind our political institutions for a commitment to the Paris Agreement. Our commitment is a covenant. Even if politicians and business people give up, we do not give up. We always seek to uphold the voices of the poor, allow the youth have a future, and ensure the inclusion and leadership of Indigenous Peoples – all for the care of our common home. We need to keep the statement alive, keep all informed, seek updates and suggestions, and always be on the lookout for the conversion in action taking place. It is a time of great challenge, but there is also a call of great hope. Ecojesuit seeks the commitment of the whole Ignatian family and collaborators. Those who wish to sign on behalf of their organization, network, or institution may do so by sending their name, position title, name of organization/network/institution, and logo to ecojes.networking@gmail.com. Please visit the Ecojesuit@COP26 website for more information and updates.

  • Ecojesuit launches Stepping Forward for the Global Common Good, a workshop series to promote the urgency of understanding and participating in the COP26 process that tackles the five key points for decision in COP26 in Glasgow in November. This effort also advances the Ignatian commitment to advocate for climate justice and hopes to animate the collaborative actions emerging among Jesuits and partners even beyond COP 26. The five key decision points in the COP26 negotiations that Ecojesuit and partners identified as critical for people and nature are: Finalizing the Paris Agreement in full, so implementation of the Rulebook can begin Finding solutions that respect human rights and allow all nations to achieve net-zero targets by 2050 Mobilizing US$100 billion yearly in climate finance for developing countries and shifting to policies that promote more sustainable economies like the European Green Deal Ensuring business accountability for their emissions and negative impact on the environment and communities Integrating nature-based solutions (NBS) in finalizing the Paris Agreement Rulebook. Ecojesuit COP26 Workshop 1: Global Rules, Local Solutions The first workshop, Global Rules, Local Solutions, will be held on 11 June and focuses on the Paris Agreement Rulebook and community-led nature-based solutions. Introduced in COP 21 in 2015, the Paris Agreement Rulebook starts the engine of climate action implementation on a global political level. While ratcheting up the commitments of countries to reduce carbon emissions is part of the process, what the Rulebook is about is turning on the engine. It is important to bring the political engine for climate change together and endorse genuine nature-based solutions. Both the Rulebook and the NBS draw strength from a shared gratitude for creation and the environment that are in solidarity with local needs and the common good. Engaging in a new normal for climate action and the common good We need to engage in this new normal for climate action and the common good that Pope Francis described in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, weaving together the oikos of ecology and the oikos of economy. It is hoped that these workshops will highlight with clarity the nexus of climate change with water, land, biodiversity, food systems, and culture as part of the local-global Ignatian response to the UAPs, Laudato Si’, and Fratelli Tutti. This is the new normal for climate action – one that involves the political wherewithal and the sustainable participation of people who are most vulnerable to the changing climate and socio-economic marginalization. These are the two key political-economic engagements in reversing climate patterns – putting in the finance for every country and putting in the necessary politics to move the climate actions. This is what COP21 was not able to do and we are no longer saying “let’s do this”, but rather, “we are doing it, so join us!” Ecojesuit invites those interested to join the first workshop, Global Rules, Local Solutions, on 11 June 2021, Friday, 2:00-3:30pm (Rome) and register through this link. Featured speakers have been involved in international climate negotiations for several years and seek ways to bring greater local participation to the COP process. Aya de Leon from Parabukas will give an overview of the Paris Agreement and the Paris Rulebook and Stephen Leonard from Rationale Advisors will talk about the role of nature in climate action and emerging discussions on nature-based solutions. Ciara Murphy, Environment Policy Advocate at the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, will moderate the open forum. The next Ecojesuit COP26 workshops and tentative dates are: The Right to a Stable Climate: Achieving Net-Zero Solutions by 2050 (21 July) Climate Finance and Green Policy Shifts (18 August) Towards Greater Business Accountability and Climate Justice for Communities (22 September) Ignatian Commitments and Collaborations for Climate Action (6 October) For more information or proposals for collaboration, please contact Brex Arevalo at ecojes.networking@gmail.com.