Young people's intensified demand for climate action is a sign of hope during the planet's ecological crisis, says Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican-based Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
"There are so many signs of hope; God is raising up people around the world to come together to care for our common home; I am happy to note the role of young people in this journey," the Ghanaian cardinal said on 15 July in a speech delivered by Fr Bruno Duffe, secretary of the dicastery, at a conference in Kenya. It marked the fifth anniversary of the Catholic Youth Network on Environment and Sustainability in Africa and the fourth anniversary of Pope Francis' environmental encyclical, Laudato Si'.
Cardinal Turkson said: "I am very pleased by the emergence of the Laudato Si' Generation, an international network of Catholic youth organisations striving to "live Laudato Si". He added that, "it is such a fitting name, as you are the generation that will be remembered for being marked by Laudato Si' and, most importantly, you are the generation that will be remembered for helping the Church implement Laudato Si' to be more prophetic and coherent in her vocation to care for our common home."
Cardinal Turkson noted that youth mobilisation against climate challenges have gained strength since August 2018, when Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old Swedish student-activist, ignited climate strikes. The protests have attracted millions of students worldwide. The cardinal described climate challenges as complex and multifaceted but said the pressure exerted by the students was being noticed by politicians, whom he said needed to show courage and make the decisions needed to fully implement the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit the global temperature increase.
Cardinal Turkson said young people are the generation most threatened by the climate crisis. Also, they are part of the future generations that stand to inherit a severe damaged planet, if no clear action is taken, he said. He highlighted particularly the issues of the climate crisis and diminishing biodiversity.
The two-day International Conference on the fourth anniversary of Laudato Si' took place at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference was jointly organised by the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA); World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Regional Office for Africa; the Holy See's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the UN Environment's Faith for Earth Initiative. The gathering brought together about 360 participants from 50 countries, including indigenous Catholic youth, representatives of other religious faiths, African environmental organisations and participants from different regions of the world. It was held under the theme, "Young People Caring for Our Common Home."
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