WWF Encourages Pope Francis to Include Amazon Conservation Message at World Youth Day



Posted on 22 July 2013  | 
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 22nd, 2013 – In a July celebration that will include Pope Francis teachings about poverty and peace, WWF hopes the Pope will use the opportunity to incorporate a special message about the importance of safeguarding the environment to the millions of young Catholics expected to gather in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, July 23rd – 28th.

WWF applauds Pope Francis for already adding his influential voice to the growing number of faith leaders around the world who are recognizing the need to live in harmony with nature.
“Pope Francis’ respect for nature and his strong call for sustainable development have been early hallmarks of his pontificate. As his namesake St. Francis of Assisi suggests, he has already given us great hope that he will be an invaluable global messenger for environmental protection around the world,” said Dekila Chungyalpa, Director of WWF’s Sacred Earth program. “Faith leaders are vital, champions of the environment. In a world where 80% of the population embraces a faith, they’re a compelling messenger and have the power to move mountains in their communities. It’s significant that the Pope’s first international trip is to Brazil, main home of the Amazon, the largest rainforest on earth that extends through nine countries in South America and helps provide economic and social benefits for its people and the world.”

Chungyalpa will be at World Youth Day and part of the panel at the Social Forum Alive Youth discussing the connection between faith and conservation. This will be the only panel specifically drawing attention to the nexus of faith and the environment. The discussion will take place on July 24th from 3pm – 5:30pm at Centro de Referência da Juventude, Manguinhos, at Dom Helder Câmara Avenue, nº 1.184 – Manguinhos – Rio de Janeiro. Information about the event is here
WWF’s Amazon conservation expert Claudio Maretti will be on the panel explaining the role of the Amazon for people in the region and in the world.
The Amazon is the largest area of tropical forest, critical to the provision of environmental services (water, timber and non-timber) and the regulation of global climate patterns. “In the scenario which climate change will impose on all nations, and especially on the poor; given the need for adaptation, countries, companies and citizens must see nature as an asset that will allow us to address future difficulties. We must take concrete action to secure and maintain the ecological balance of this biome and all other ecosystems”, stated Claudio Maretti, Living Amazon Initiative leader.
“I understand that it is important for Catholics to care for nature as God’s creation and to avoid putting an extra burden on the poor. Therefore, we are calling on young Catholics from around the world to take care of nature by making more conscious individual choices and expressing their strong support for the conservation of the Amazon, which all of us depend on”, he completed.

In partnership with World Youth Day organizers, WWF will also be showcasing several conservation-themed videos that will air prior to the Pope’s holy mass. Watch one of the videos here.
Sacred Earth serves as a capacity-building platform for faith leaders to help them lead their communities in protecting wildlife, natural resources and ecosystems. In partnership with The Alliance of Religions and Conservation, WWF has launched several initiatives with the Catholic Church, including one in East Africa focusing on wildlife protection.

Young pilgrims
© JMJ RIO 2013 Enlarge

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