2021-07-29 11:54
Message for the 2021 Day of the Environment

Message for the 2021 Day of the Environment


Towards a Sustainable Earth!


On June 5, 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, also known as the Stockholm Conference, was convened by the United Nations (UN). A special apostolic envoy assigned by St. Pope Paul VI proclaimed, on his behalf, “human creativeness will yield true and lasting benefits only to the extent to which man respects the laws that govern the vital impulse and nature’s capacity for regeneration.”

In 1979, St. Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Francis of Assisi the heavenly Patron of those who promote ecology. Then in 1990, in his Message for the World Day of Peace with the theme, Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation, he stated, “Many ethical values, fundamental to the development of a peaceful society, are particularly relevant to the ecological question. The fact that many challenges facing the world today are interdependent confirms the need for carefully coordinated solutions based on a morally coherent world view” (n.2). He continued, “In many parts of the world society is given to instant gratification and consumerism while remaining indifferent to the damage which these cause. … the seriousness of the ecological issue lays bare the depth of man’s moral crisis” (n.13).

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, stated, “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.... Consequently, projects for integral human development cannot ignore coming generations, but need to be marked by solidarity and inter-generational justice, while taking into account a variety of contexts: ecological, juridical, economic, political and cultural” (n.48).

In June of 2015, Pope Francis through Laudato Si’, his encyclical letter on care for our common home, urged us to realize the seriousness of the ecological crisis of the earth and develop a sense of responsibility.

In December of 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries with the aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change. The resolutions were adopted: ‘holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels’; ‘pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.’ Moreover, this Agreement proposes a sustainable lifestyle for the entire human family, such as concern for impoverished countries and the vulnerable, that are adversely affected by climate change. Such concern takes the shape of gender equality, intergenerational equity, protection of biodiversity, labor justice, sustainable lifestyles and so on.

More details can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2015, when Pope Francis himself attended. It can be said that Laudato Si’ is a guide on how we, as Christians, should not only understand the Paris Agreement and the SDGs, but also put them into practice. Recently, Pope Francis invited representatives of international oil companies, and noted the urgency of transitioning from carbon based energy in order to save the earth. He also encouraged them to take concrete action for clean energy. Future-oriented companies in Korea are ardently participating in the response to the climate crisis, and a number of companies are adopting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) management principles. As this type of management has become the international standard, it is no longer a choice but a requirement for companies that want to survive and strengthen their competitiveness in the market. 

Since 2018, the Korean government has made steady efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals by establishing various domestic plans. In late April of 2021, ‘Guideline of 2050 carbon neutral committee establishment and management’ was drawn up in keeping with international trends on climate change action. The Carbon Neutral Committee has now been launched. I hope that this committee will not feign its commitment, but will actually set out  concrete goals and practical plans so as to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Today, no one can be discharged from taking responsibility for the climate crisis. Taking responsibility on this means carrying out our obligatory environmental duties both for the present and for future generations. The following are some things that we can do if we decide: transit to become a recycling society; reduce carbon emissions; replace disposable and plastic items with reusable ones; promote a more vegetarian based diet with less meat; use public transport, cycle or walk; and finally, change the paradigm in order to encourage moderation and frugality as virtues. I sincerely hope that we will see the restoration of the earth once again.


June 5, 2021 

World Environment Day

Rt. Rev. Abbot Blasio

Park Hyun-dong, O.S.B.


CBCK Committee  for Ecology & Environment