Justice and Peace points the culture of eco-social care as a response to the cry of impoverished people

  • The homogenizing effect of our predominant models of production and consumption has eroded diversity -in all its forms, from biological to cultural- a vital aspect of resilience.
  • In the integral ecology of Laudato si', founded on interconnection, there is no room for terms from different worlds but for meeting in the one world that is the common home.

Yesterday the General Commission for Justice and Peace held a seminar on the second Laudato si' goal: Response to the Cry of the Poor.

After sharing the actions proposed from different continents, the common conclusion is the ecological conversion, the change of lifestyle to opt for another one less voracious, more serene, more respectful, less anxious, more fraternal. The integral ecology of Laudato si' include the spiritual dimension and considers that the depth of the ecological crisis reveals the seriousness of the moral crisis of the person, accentuating, in turn, both crises.

Poverty and natural resources

At the social level in Latin America, they identify the problems of inequality and ethnic discrimination. At the ecological level the atlas of environmental justice shows the extraction of minerals, construction materials and fossil fuels as the main resources exploited in this part of the continent.

The Congo River Basin is composed of many forests that, in the heart of equatorial Africa, form the second largest tropical region after the Amazon, constituting an important reserve of biodiversity. Along with the expansion of agriculture, industrial logging is the main factor in the degradation and deforestation of this rainforest, where much of the exploitation is done illegally.

In these natural spaces, entire cultures live directly from the forest for their shelter, health, food and cultural and spiritual survival.

The eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Venezuela and Myanmar have areas of conflict mineral extraction in mines, some of them artisanal, which provide work to a large part of the population in the area. The problem of these minerals is the link between their exploitation and commercialization and the obtaining of funds, which go to organized crime or armed groups.

In these processes, often of over-exploitation of resources, there are different risks of human rights violations: labor accidents, water contamination, health problems, forced population displacement, corruption, money laundering, war conflicts, child labor and exploitation, sexual violence against women, among others.

The conflicts are not generated by the control of raw materials alone but have multiple causes such as the governance of this economic sector, the impoverishment of the population, the lack of access to land, the lack of infrastructure and communication, and ethnic tensions. Thus, the solutions have to do with local development policies so that the benefits, which can be extracted from the mines, fall on the population.

The metals obtained from the ores are used in the manufacture of electronic components that end up in the hands of consumers who are unaware of the conditions in which the products have been manufactured and the risks listed for the population and the natural area of extraction. For all these reasons, it is important to control the supply chains and avoid gaps in information on the origin of the products.

The underlying problem is the model of consumption and production at a global level, the crisis of the way of being and being in the world, the culture of throwing away, which is what pushes us to generate pressure on natural resources and people, presenting us with unsustainable proposals of consumerism and destroying life.

Today's Answers

The responses come from different personal, social and institutional spheres in which civil society has great influence and where dialogue, joint work and concern for the common good take on great relevance in the transformation towards a culture of care.

On January 21 of this year, the European Regulation on Conflict Minerals comes into force, which aims to advance the regulation of the supply chain of four metals: tin, gold, tantalum and tungsten.

In this cold month, when the electricity bill is rising, we remember the Energy Charter Treaty, an investment agreement for the energy sector, which is an obstacle to the energy transition from fossil fuels to other more diversified sources and which allows those who cannot pay for it to have their electricity cut off. We urge the Government to withdraw Spain from the aforementioned Treaty.

To care for the Earth is to care for the poorest people. It is a manifestation of ecological conversion in action. Thus, it is not necessary to go to the Congo and create movements to fight against those who exploit the forest, but rather in our daily actions to have absolute respect for the use of natural resources, since we will have it with those who suffer from our consumerism.

"Our plans and projects should always take into account their effects on the entire human family and consider their consequences for the present and for coming generations". The change in lifestyle involves the courageous cultural revolution of care proposed by Pope Francis as a path to peace in his 2021 World Day of Peace Message. On 22 January we also celebrated the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: "How many resources are spent on weaponry, especially nuclear weapons, that could be used for more significant priorities such as ensuring the safety of individuals, the promotion of peace and integral human development, the fight against poverty, and the provision of health care".