WWF speech for the Living Youth
WWF was in charge of organizing a roundtable on sustainability – the participants included Claudio Maretti, leader of WWF’s Living Amazon Initiative (LAI) and Dekila Chungyalpa, director of the Sacred Earth Program, among other guests. The purpose of the discussions was to illustrate the relation between faith and nature conservation, as well as the present Amazon and the global environmental scenarios, to the active young people taking part in the event, and to make them understand how important it is for young people to engage in communicating a message of greater respect towards nature.
Dekila Chungyalpa came from far away to take part in this event; his life history, nevertheless, suggests even further remote places. She was born in Nepal, among the Himalayan Mountains, and when she was 15 years old she moved to New York City, where she soon felt as a ‘refugee from environmental issues’. She was homesick and because of that she became an environmentalist, starting her work in the Himalayas, and now she is the director of WWF’s Sacred Earth Program.
The Sacred Earth Program advocates respect for nature within the various religions’ contexts. Dekila Chungyalpa works with Tibetan monks and also with African religions. According to Chungyalpa, Earth is endangered and it is up to us, who have been given the gift of life, to look beyond our bodies and to perceive the interdependence relation between ourselves and the natural resources provided by the planet.
Claudio Maretti, leader of the Living Amazon Initiative, works in the nine Amazonian countries. He stressed the degradation process undergone by the Amazon biome and its dramatic consequences not only to the 33 million inhabitants of the Amazon, including local and indigenous peoples, but also to everyone in this planet, considering that an ecologically healthy Amazon is vital for the climate balance and the most relevant shelter of biodiversity in the world. “It is extremely important to protect nature. It is part of God’s creation, as Christians who participate in the WYD event say. Nature ought to be understood in its complexity and it must be protected, since every person and all youth are entitled to a healthy environment”.
Maretti -- who was also representing WWF-Brazil’s CEO, Maria Cecília Wey de Brito -- mentioned that the Ecological Footprint is a concept to measure the impact of humankind upon Earth. “We can see that our activities already use up the equivalent to one and a half planet, which means our consumption is one and a half greater than nature is able to regenerate. The youth must have the wisdom to reverse this situation”, said Maretti.
An educational analysis of how important the natural resources and fauna and flora diversity are important our everyday’s life was the focus of Márcia Chame, coordinator of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) Institutional Program on Biodiversity and Health. Chame explained to the young people audience that a plant such as wild mustard, for instance, answers for the existence of vegetables we feed on, such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. Without the wild mustard, the salads on our places would be much poorer.
Furthermore, 90 per cent of the production of plants feeding mankind depend on the pollination by bees – should bees be extinct, the battle against hunger would be even harder. Chame also explained that the existence of nature and the care we take of it, even in urban areas, help to reduce the impact of diseases such as the Dengue fever, which is less prominent in the more natural environment of the Tijuca National Park, in Rio de Janeiro. “The poison from the Brazilian pit viper Bothrops jararaca is the raw material of a medicine which is largely employed against high blood pressure. This means this venomous snake can save millions of lives”, said Chame.
The daily awareness of the environment and of the natural resources was also the main theme addressed by Laércio Vieira, a young man who is a member of the Rural Youth Catholic Pastoral Care, stated that the Catholic youth from the country side is strongly connected with the land, since his livelihood is obtained from the land. He addressed the relevance of family farming in food production, the effort to prevent food contamination, and the fact that small farmers guard the environment in everyone’s benefit. Therefore, said Vieira, he perceives a closer relationship between faith and nature.
At the closure of panel, WWF donated 50 publications and videos to the Parque Manguinhos Library, which is directed by Ivete Miloski, according to whom this gesture was very relevant to generate further knowledge and education for the community inhabiting the surroundings.
Faith and nature conservation
One other action taken by WWF during WYD was the dissemination of an environmental message through the production, together with WYD organizers, of short videos on environmental themes and youth testimonies on the relationship between faith and nature conservation. The videos are being aired and distributed by WYD social media channels since June 5, the World Environmental Day. Watch all videos at this link.
The video on the Amazon is also part of the cultural program for Copacabana Beach, preparing for the Pope celebrations this Thursday, 25, until Saturday, 27. Amazon video is available in this link
WWF also took part in the official event entitled “The sustainable future we want for mankind”, which was organized by Rio de Janeiro Pontifical Catholic University (PUC-Rio) on Monday morning (July 22), the day Pope Francis arrived in Rio to participate in the World Youth Day. This event marked the beginning of the week and partially illustrated the focus of WYD 2013, through discussing the relevance of nature preservation as part of faith’s, religious and human ethical responsibility.