A top official of the Vatican this week called for common efforts to protect biodiversity amid threats posed by the changing climate and the global health crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Church always raises her prophetic voice to provide a spiritual basis for reflection on the protection of the poor, which includes the earth’s diversity and its ecosystems,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Vatican.
The cardinal stressed the importance of ecological conversion and a common commitment to care for “Our Common Home” at a webinar on Tuesday, April 20, on biodiversity.
The online event titled “The Road to COP15” shared understanding, experiences, and insights from various disciplines on biodiversity in preparation for the upcoming meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity later this year.
In his presentation, Cardinal Turkson cited Pope Francis’ repeated calls for increased care for the earth, including his calls for universal fraternity.
“For ethical, moral and theological reasons, it is incumbent upon us to safeguard biodiversity on earth,” said the cardinal, noting that there is already a global framework for a multi-sectoral approach to ensure the conservation and sustainability of biodiversity.
The cardinal also cited the role of indigenous people as “custodians of biodiversity” and who are essential for the protection of biodiversity. He said they need to be respected and protected “so that we can learn from them through paying attention to them.”
For the Church, Cardinal Turkson proposed planting trees and partnering with organizations that care for nature to protect diversity. He also urged the prioritization of restoring degraded ecosystems, support for regenerative agriculture, and participation in initiatives even at the local level in parishes.
He said everyone is called to “embrace an integral ecological perspective and approach, and apply holistic thinking to reorient economies, education and cultural practices and policies, so that we honor the dignity of the human person and the integrity of creation.”