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Caring for our common home: Caritas state of the environment report for Oceania 2015

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About this report

In 2014, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand produced our foundational environmental report on issues affecting communities in Oceania. Small yet strong: Voices from Oceania on the environment drew on interviews with groups from our Caritas and Catholic networks to paint a picture of environmental changes and issues impacting the lives of people throughout the Pacific.

From this initial work, we identified five issues we will follow over future years. We will report on those issues in an annual State of the environment in Oceania report on St Francis’ Day each year.

This work takes place against a backdrop of significant decisions affecting the future of our planet and its people. In June 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care of our common home. During the final months of 2015, the international community is considering the global response to pressing environmental issues through the United Nations Sustainable Development summit in September, and the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris in December.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is the agency for justice, peace and development of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference. We undertake advocacy, education, aid and development on both local and global issues affecting people in the Pacific, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

We are a member of Caritas Oceania, one of seven regions comprising the Caritas Internationalis confederation of 165 Catholic welfare, development and social justice organisations. Since 2003, Caritas Oceania has raised environmental justice and climate change issues within our confederation as matters of urgency affecting the wellbeing of peoples in the Pacific.

Environmental justice is also one of five key strategic goals in the Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand 2013-2017 strategic plan. We recognise that climate change and environmental degradation pose a severe threat to Pacific livelihoods and survival. We are responding to these environmental issues through:

• building relationships with vulnerable communities and undertaking development and relief programmes;

• undertaking research to inform our response and practice;

• raising community awareness of environmental issues and climate change in Aotearoa New Zealand and Oceania; and

• advocating to address structural environmental issues.