We all share this pain. But it is poor and vulnerable communities who have contributed the least that are affected the most right now.
To ensure everyone can flourish we need to restore God’s precious gift of creation, enable people to adapt to a warming world and stop the climate crisis from getting worse.
This isn’t an easy challenge. But around the world, young people are already leading the way.
Read more about how they are restoring our common home
Delio Siticonatzi Comaiteri
The scale of the PanAmazon region is remarkable, comprising nine out of the 12 countries in South America. Its surface area covers over 7 million square kilometres. Roughly 40 million people live in the region; approximately three million of them are members of indigenous communities. Of the roughly 140 uncontacted peoples in the world, about 100 are in the Amazon.
This huge region plays a critical role in our planet’s health. The Amazon river is almost 7000km long, and the region has 20% of the non-frozen freshwater in the world – so the Amazon Basin is like a water pump for the world. The Amazon represents 30% of the untouched forests that still exist in the world, but 20% of the forest there has already been destroyed. The relationship between forest and water is critical: if the deforestation rate goes up to 40%, the ‘water pump’ will be broken. The region will become more like a desert, and water supplies for humans will be dangerously affected.
Indigenous community leaders such as Delio Siticonatzi Comaiteri, 29, are responding to the urgency of the situation. Delio is a member of the indigenous Ashaninka people. The Ashaninka mostly live in the rainforests of Peru. As a teacher at Nopoqui University, Delio implores his students to become leaders themselves, learning to nurture and protect their natural environment and educating others about the harm that’s being done. The university is in the centre of the jungle, and it is common for people to hunt for fresh meat in the forest and fish in the rivers. Climate breakdown threatens their very way of life.
The university is supported by REPAM, the Ecclesiastical PanAmazon Network. REPAM is a Catholic Church network that promotes the rights and dignity of people living in the Amazon. It is a project of the nine Churches of the Amazon region, inspired by Pope Francis and backed by the Latin American Bishops’ Conference, CELAM. REPAM exists to bring to the world’s attention the fragile situation of indigenous people in the Amazon and the critical importance of the Amazon for the planet – our common home.
“We live in a natural environment where there is not much cement,” Delio says. “We live in harmony with nature. The Amazon is our heritage. We inspire our young people to treasure the natural world – to keep the forest alive because of the clean air it gives us; to protect the crystal-clear water. The present-day economy is one that devours everything. Young people are taught to consume, consume, consume. Companies continue to take what they want. There are communities who already have lost everything: trees, rivers. I tell our students,
“You have the power to stop all of it. You can learn to live a conscious life, a simple life. Our shadow is a gigantic tree, and every morning you hear the songs of thousands of little birds. Do you want to defend that?”
Stand in solidarity with Delio by asking the UK Government to put people and planet at the heart of all decisions they make.
Delio is partnered with the dioceses of Birmingham, Cardiff, Clifton, Menevia, Northampton and Plymouth.
Watch Delio’s video message to his partner parishes in the UK