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World Environment Day

Updated: Jun 18



World Environmental Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 and has become the most significant global platform for environmental concerns  and future strategy. Every year, there is greater awareness of the triple planetary crisis: climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. The world’s ecosystems are under extreme threat. Billions of hectares of land are degraded, affecting almost half of the world’s population. Rural communities, smallholder farmers, and the very poor are hit hardest.

Land restoration is a call for the protection and revival of ecosystems. It can reverse land degradation, drought, and desertification. Restoration increases carbon storage and slows climate change. 

If we are to restore the land, then it is essential that we also repair its relationship with water. To deal effectively with climate change, especially severe droughts and floods, we need better land management to slow the floods, restore soil structure, and enhance biodiversity. To do that effectively, we need to work together at every level, both international and local, and promote realistic engagement between policymakers, those who work the land, and the public. 

The impact of climate change is being experienced around the world. Last year, records were shattered. Most of us have experienced extreme temperatures, storms, floods, and droughts. Recently, I travelled by car to the other side of my city, Birmingham, UK,  and we had to negotiate five floods. Saturated fields could no longer cope with the downpour.

However, there is some hope. Countries have promised to restore one billion hectares, an area larger than China. World Environment Day promises a growing momentum and action towards these restoration goals and a more credible determination to slow climate change, protect nature, and boost the livelihoods and food security of billions worldwide.

 

We must all try to play our part no matter how small our efforts. A General Election has been called in the UK. Some of us have already informed candidates that we want to know what they will do about climate change and related issues.  Five years ago in a General Chapter of our congregation, we made a commitment ‘to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’ We are now preparing for our next Chapter, and again, we are discerning how we can make a more significant impact while caring for our Common Home. 

Nicolas Barré urges us to ‘cultivate great respect and affection for all that reflects the image of God and discover God’s presence in the whole of creation’.  (Letter 22)

Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si, has called for every person to undergo an ‘ecological conversion’ and says: “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” (Laudato Si’ 217).

In this Pentecost season let us pray: ‘Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.’ 


Sr Margaret Walsh (May 25, 2024)

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