By Vatican News staff writer
As news of yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean shocked Europe, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva focused his speech on the huge impact of climate change and the ecological crisis on millions of poor people worldwide.
At least 743 migrants are known to have died in the Mediterranean this year. They are men, women forced to flee their homes due to violence or poverty, often exacerbated or compounded by climate change.
Addressing “The International Dialogue on Migration of the International Organization for Migration Panel on Tuesday, Archbishop Jurkovič made a strong appeal for a united response.
“To see or not to see”
“To see or not to see” is the question that should lead us to the answer in action together, he said, noting that “unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, which came upon us unexpectedly, the climate crisis has been unfolding for years, and yet it remained unaddressed until recently.”
Jurkovič pointed out that “the crippling consequences of the climate crisis are already a reality for millions of people worldwide,” but he added, “While climate change occurs everywhere, the capacity to respond and adapt to it varies greatly. It is the poor and most vulnerable who are disproportionately affected by the ecological and climate crises.”
It is vital, he said, to acknowledge that the climate crisis has a “human face”.
The Archbishop went on to commend the work carried out by the International Organization for Migration to highlight the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on migratory movements.
Climate change is not an inevitable phenomenon
“When people are forced to flee because their local environment has become uninhabitable, it might look like a process of nature, something inevitable,” he said in reality it is the deteriorating climate itself, “very often the result of poor choices and destructive activity, of selfishness and neglect that set humankind at odds with creation, our common home.”
Jurkovič concluded that the issues of migration and of climate change require “by their very nature and magnitude” a collective and coordinated response by the international community.
“No single State alone can manage their consequences, and all States are affected to some extent,” he said.
Finally he called on all parties to prepare for the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change to address the human dimension of climate change without further delay.
As Pope Francis recalled recently, he said, there exists an “ecological debt that we owe to nature, as well as to peoples affected by human-induced ecological degradation and loss of biodiversity. These issues are not simply political or economic; they are questions of justice, a justice that can no longer be ignored or deferred. Indeed, they entail a moral obligation towards future generations, for the seriousness with which we respond to them will shape the world we leave to our children.”