Vatican meeting on climate change targets local officials

Entrance of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

In the lead up to COP21, the Vatican’s science committee has convened about 60 mayors from around the world to discuss climate change, human trafficking, and sustainable development. The 2-day event, which concludes today (July 22), is the first meeting at the Vatican to target local officials. The objective of bringing together mayors is to determine best practices to mitigate climate change and eradicate modern slavery, as climate change is contributing to poverty and forced migration, and mayors have the capacity to make cities more economically stable, socially equitable, and environmentally sound.

The meeting is being held at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Both organizations assisted in the production of the Papal Encyclical Laudato si’, and are now encouraging the identification of solutions for problems noted.

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Vatican host of the mayors summit said, “I hope the mayors commit to reducing local greenhouse gas emissions in their cities, and to building the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations, reducing their exposure to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, including human trafficking and dangerous forced migration,” in an email to Mashable.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences released a declaration to be signed by the mayors following Tuesday’s workshop, Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of The Cities. The declaration states, “As Mayors we commit ourselves to building, in our cities and urban settlements, the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reducing their exposure to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, which foster human trafficking and dangerous forced migration.”

Amongst the attendees at the Vatican event are 20 C40 Mayors, as well as the Special Advisor to the C40 Chair Rodrigo Rosa. C40 Cities reports that Rosa expressed support for the Papal climate agenda saying, “Cities are our “Common Home” and​ we must work together to make them safe, fair and sustainable. As leaders of our communities, we believe in cities as a force for good. By embracing their potential, we can address many of today’s most urgent challenges -​ including threats like climate change and modern slavery.”

Today’s symposium is focused on Prosperity, People and Planet: Achieving Sustainable Development in Our Cities.

(Image: Entrance of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons)