By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The Holy See has reiterated its call for integral ecology as a means of natural disaster risk management and prevention of other environmental problems, in a statement to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Tuesday.
“Environmental disasters often take place because of economic exploitation and degradation of the Earth,” the Holy See pointed out.
Yet, “an economy respectful of the environment will not have the maximalization of profits at its only objective, because environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculation of costs and benefits.”
The appeal was made during the fourth session of the 2020 Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting of the OSCE organized in Vienna. The event took place under the theme: “Strengthening the sustainable use and management of ecosystems and natural resources as a means to contribute to effective reduction of disaster risks.”
Caring for the world
Re-echoing Pope Francis’ call in the Encyclical Fratelli tutti, the statement stressed that caring for the world in which we live means caring for ourselves. Such care, the Holy See notes, “does not interest those economic powers that demand quick profits” as people who raise their voices to defend the environment are often silenced or ridiculed.
In light of this, the Holy See draws attention to Pope Francis’s concept of integral ecology as “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”
The common good, the statement highlights, “requires that we protect and love our native land, otherwise the consequences of a disaster in one country will end up affecting the entire planet.”
States have a primary responsibility
The Holy See also underscored the role of States as primarily responsible for activities within their territory, including preventing “the destruction of the atmosphere and biosphere” and ensuring that “citizens are not exposed to dangerous pollutants or toxic waste.”
However, as these issues of environmental management are of “transnational concern”, a local approach is vital, while not downplaying the impact of a more global approach, especially as “the actions of one State, in our common world, affect not just itself, not just its neighboring States, but the whole planet.”
Hence, the Holy See urged the OSCE to maintain “good environmental governance on the agenda,” since a more global approach to security must take into account the numerous effects of environmental change and exploitation.