Ecosystem Degradation "a clear outcome of economic dysfunction": Pope Francis


Pope Francis said Friday that environmental degradation is “a clear outcome of economic dysfunction.”

In a June 4 message marking the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the pope underlined the importance of protecting the environment and reforming the global economy.

“The current environmental situation calls us to act now with urgency to become ever more responsible stewards of creation and to restore the nature that we have been damaging and exploiting for too long,” the pope said.

“Otherwise, we risk destroying the very basis on which we depend. We risk floods and hunger and severe consequences for ourselves and for future generations.”

His message was addressed to Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and Qu Dongyu, director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


In the message, delivered via video by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the pope looked ahead to World Environment Day on June 5.

He said that the celebration would have a “special significance” in light of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which was approved by the UN General Assembly in 2019 and runs from 2021 through 2030, the deadline for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The pope applauded initiatives to protect the environment around the world.

“However,” he said, “we are warned that we have little time left -- scientists say the next 10 years, the span of this UN Decade -- to restore the ecosystem, which will mean the integral restoration of our relation with nature.”

“The many ‘warnings’ we are experiencing, among which we can see COVID-19 and global warming, are pushing us to take urgent action.”

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He expressed hope that the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, known as COP26, would “help to give us the right answers to restore ecosystems both through a strengthened climate action and a spread of awareness and consciousness.”

Quoting from Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclicalCaritas in veritate, he said: “We are also impelled to rethink our economies. We require a ‘further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals, as well as a profound and far-sighted revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its dysfunctions and deviations.’ Ecosystem degradation is a clear outcome of economic dysfunction.”

He concluded: “Restoring the nature we have damaged means, in the first place, restoring ourselves. As we welcome this United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, let us be compassionate, creative, and courageous. May we take our proper place as a ‘Restoration Generation.’”