Hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world gathered in the rain on Rio de Janeiro's famous Copacabana beach to celebrate World Youth Day on Tuesday, July 23rd.
As Pope Francis arrived in Brazil the day before, the importance of fully engaging youth in safeguarding our environment was underlined by the unveiling of a new manifesto. A creative collaboration between the Vatican’s Pontifical Council of the Laity and the Italian Ministry of Environment, the manifesto is the brainchild of the Director General of the Ministry of Environment, Corrado Clini.
"I have always believed in the power of youth to change our world for the better," said Clini. "This manifesto encourages young people to build upon steps we have already taken on climate change awareness when we created Connect4Climate with the World Bank in 2011."
Connect4Climate (C4C) demonstrates the Ministry of Environment’s strong commitment to raising the awareness of and involving young people in climate change issues. A global partnership program dedicated to climate change communication, C4C, through social media and the web, aims to amplify the voices of young local stakeholders that have stories to tell about climate change. With the support of the Italian Ministry of Environment, C4C convenes diverse parties in dialogues on climate change.
"The Italian Ministry of Environment has been at the vanguard of the movement to address climate change and we've made great strides forward," said Lucia Grenna, Programme Manager of Connect4Climate. "This stimulating manifesto emphasizes not only that a grassroots movement is essential, but the absolute need for youth to get involved. As the World Bank’s President, Jim Yong Kim, has said, we need to hear the voices of young people if we want to tackle climate change."
The manifesto, titled "The Young Guardians of Creation, the Future on a Human Scale We Want," reiterates warnings given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the international scientific community. It stresses the need to respond immediately to the appeals of scientists to protect the environment while also helping the poor.
"The right to development for the more than two-thirds of the world’s population, that demands to get out of poverty, must be solved with clean technologies capable of supplying energy and water.
"At the onset of the third millennium we have the possibility to support this right by using the discoveries that the science of the third millennium has made available."
The manifesto concludes with requests to world governments, international organizations and mass media to do their part, and pledges to be "guardians of the Creation for future generations," promoting "a human ecology" and "the efficient and shared use of the resources at our disposal."
The “Cross of Light” installed by the Italian Ministry for the Environment and the Forum das Americas near the papal stage in Copacabana. Built to commemorate the visit of Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro, the modular structure is covered with 96 photovoltaic panels, and the energy accumulated during the day will be used to illuminate the cross at night. It celebrates the importance of eco-sustainable development and the protection of creation. Photo: Italian Ministry of Environment
The Minister of Environment for Italy, Andrea Orlando, noted that, "The manifesto is an important and innovative contribution which aims at making environmental awareness a world heritage, as it represents a fundamental tool to tackle the challenges that lie ahead of us."
Read the manifesto here.
Photo Banner Credits to Corrado Clini, Director General of the Ministry of Environment for Italy, holding up the QR coded World Youth Day Manifesto T-shirt at the launch. Photo: Italian Ministry of Environment