By Charles Dhinakaran, Manager at the Conference Development Office of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia
Jesuits in India appeal to policy makers to give focus to eco-education in COP26 to raise awareness and action on environmental concerns and encourage public participation to tackle climate change issues.
The Jesuit Ecological Network in India has more than 30 years of engaging in initiatives such as awareness creation, eco-education, organic farming, renewable energy, afforestation, preservation of biodiversity and endangered plant and animal species and there is much work being done to prevent the destruction of the natural environment and protect Mother Earth, Our Common Home. These efforts contribute to raising awareness in protecting the environment and towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) of the Society of Jesus and the Conference Apostolic Preferences (CAPs) seek to deepen personal, communal, and institutional conversion. They are guides for improving both the apostolic work of the body of the Society as a whole and the different ways in carrying out our ministries, where the preferences will take flesh. The fourth UAP, To collaborate in the care of our common home, and the third CAP, To promote ecology and justice, further emphasize the need to establish a right relationship with the environment.
Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’ (Praise Be to You) is an urgent call to tackle the current ecological crisis by making a paradigm shift that will allow all human beings to live sustainably in dignity. Pope Francis critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take swift and unified global action.
Increased economic activities in developing nations create a need for more energy and consumption demand. Energy production, the extensive adoption of unsustainable life practices, and the related pollution have led to severe environmental degradation. The notion that as countries become developed, environmental-friendly technologies and lifestyles will be adopted and there won’t be any further environmental degradation, has proven wrong in many cases.
Many developing countries, already equipped with environmental policies, legal frameworks, and sophisticated economic instruments, strangely face the worsening of environmental conditions even with mitigating measures in place.
This calls for a reflection on the role of citizens in making the world a better place to live for everyone, irrespective of differences. One of the major constraints faced is the limited public participation in pro-environmental behaviours.
While the limited legal and economic framework for environmental protection is known and highlighted well, an equal emphasis and focus is on the need for public participation in pro-environmental behaviours. There is also an interconnection between the production and consumption and the demand and supply that determines the production. In 1998 UNDP Human Development Report, it was observed that the increase in consumption and unbalanced consumption patterns placed enormous pressure on the environment and contributed to pollution.