ROME – Pope Francis kicked off his own “Laudato Si” week Sunday, which wraps up an entire year dedicated to 2015 encyclical letter on the environment, the first ever dedicated entirely to that topic, and its dramatic call to hear “the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.”
Though people all over the world were energized by the document, it’s unlikely anybody’s more excited about the prospects for this week than the pontiff’s fellow Argentine, Father Augusto Zampini.
“The most important part of Laudato Si Week is that it closes the year of the fifth anniversary, with events that we could not do because of the pandemic,” he said. “We came up with the idea of the Laudato Si year with the help of the pope. He told us, ‘Take advantage of it’, and do the whole year of Laudato Si, which ends with this week that I think we are going to do every year’.”
Zampini is an adjunct secretary in the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the official responsible for the week-long observance.
It runs May 16-25, and will close with what Zampini defined as the “most important thing:” The announcement of a seven-year action plan inspired by the enncyclical that has even the president of the United Nations COP21 summit on climate, to be held later this year in Glasgow, paying attention.
“We will launch the ‘Laudato Si action plan’, which are seven jubilee years of concrete action,” Zampini said. The hope, he said, is that it will create “a massive movement of families, parishes, schools and universities, health centers and hospitals, business and governments. The idea is that everyone commits to the seven Laudato Si resolutions, which are easy. And with each step, you get a credit, a Laudato Si award.”
The action plan is projected to run in parallel to the last seven years of the decade of action of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which, among other things, aim to end global hunger by the time 2030 rolls around. However, the seven goals are “based on three things,” and simpler than the one the United Nations’ 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future.
Without revealing the seven goals in full – the formal rollout will take place May 25 – Zampini said they are “based on three things: energy use, waste and water. The idea is that the plan should be carried out in community. You take steps, but you take them with your family, in your school, in your parish, so you foster change among those who surround you, even by modifying the way you vacation.”
“The idea is to make it something massive, and our plan is to present it to COP 21 in Glasgow,” the priest said. “And we have millions of people around the world who have already committed to change their life, to change their business, their university. The way we see it, even before fully announcing the action plan, we know that there is no turning back.”
Zampini, who’s used to speaking both with global leaders at the Davos World Economic Forum and to grassroot movements as leadership member of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, acknowledged that the plan being unveiled by the Catholic Church is “extremely ambitious,” while highlighting that the project already has over 100 partners, each of which brings their own global network, who’re committed to make small changes in the way the behave and do business, which will in time, reshape the world.
Zampini, who before heading to the Vatican obtained a master’s degree in international development from the University of Bath, a PhD in theology from London’s Roehampton University and a post-doctorate in Cambridge, has been a member of Pope Francis’ COVID-19 commission since it was instituted back in 2020.
“We thought that it’d be a year-long project, because back then, we assumed COVID would not last more than a year,” he said over the phone. “From the beginning our idea was to close the Laudato Si/commission year with the launching of the action plan. Evidently, COVID is still going on, but we’re launching the plan anyway, with the hopes that we can also implement the many things we’ve learned from the pandemic.”
The commission has already been presented to Alok Sharma, who will head the Nov 1-12 Glasgow United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP21. According to Zampini, he was very interested in the project and asked to have a copy of the material that will be released by the Vatican when introducing it.
“It is very important to be able to tell the world that we are launching ambitious actions that respond to the Pope Francis request to dream big,” he said. “He told us that our role was to change the current economy and change structures. He didn’t want little things. So, we went with spectacular.”
As part of the action plan, the dicastery will unveil the Laudato Si’ Action Platform May 25, ahead of it’s full launch Oct. 4. The platform is meant to help those who want to increase their commitment to bringing Laudato Si’ to life by promising a set of actions over a period of seven years.
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