(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in celebrating World Environment Day held annually on June 5. This year Colombia, in partnership with Germany, is the host of World Environment Day. This year’s theme of “biodiversity” provides a call to action to combat accelerating species loss and the degradation of the natural world. The United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment) notes that 1 million plant and animal species risk extinction, largely due to human activities.
World Environment Day “urges us to rethink how our economic systems have evolved and the impact they have on the environment. These are issues that the world cannot lose sight of even as we tackle the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis.”
As noted in the World Environment Day materials, which call on everyone to make time #ForNature, “Healthy ecosystems, rich with biodiversity, are fundamental to human existence. Ecosystems sustain human life in a myriad of ways, cleaning our air, purifying our water, ensuring the availability of nutritious foods, nature-based medicines and raw materials, and reducing the occurrence of disasters.”
Salesian missionaries have an ongoing focus on the environment in their organizations around the globe. The Don Bosco Green Alliance, an international collective of youth from Salesian institutions and organizations that contribute to global environmental action, thought and policy, was launched in April 2018 in India. In just the span of two years, the Alliance has gained 273 registered members from 56 countries. Membership is open to all Salesian institutions and organizations worldwide.
“The Don Bosco Green Alliance is an important part of our Salesian youth ministry today,” said Father Savio Silveira, the convener of the Alliance. “Young people feel very strongly about the environmental crisis since they understand the impact it has on their lives and their future. Accompanying young people as they seek solutions to environmental issues has to be an aspect of our youth ministry.”
Don Bosco Green Alliance members work to create an environment that is safe and caring for all life on the planet while building up a new generation of environmentally committed citizens and leaders. The Alliance’s priorities are combating pollution, reducing global warming and eliminating disposable plastics. In each of these areas, it aims to partner with ongoing global campaigns promoted by UN Environment or other international organizations.
Members of the Alliance have also undertaken such initiatives as environmental education to increase green areas and planting trees, the reduction of the use of non-degradable materials, promotion of organic agriculture and home gardens, preservation and conservation of water, and increasing the use of renewable energy sources.
The week of May 18, Pope Francis inaugurated “Laudato Si’ Week” at the Vatican commemorating the fifth anniversary of the publication of his eco-encyclical with the same title. The week opens a wider year-long commemoration of the document aimed at spurring global citizens to adopt more sustainable practices.
As part of these efforts, Don Bosco Alliance was invited to lead initiatives within the school sector. The goal is to rethink educational programs to create greater awareness of ecology and to think about concrete actions that promote ecological vocations for youth, teachers and education managers.