Pope Francis has urged mayors from big cities across the world to direct their efforts towards the care for the environment and the fight against human trafficking.
Referring to his recently published encyclical letter Laudato si’, he stressed it is not an encyclical on the environment but rather a social encyclical, because the state of the environment is intimately linked to the life and wellbeing of humankind.
The Pope was speaking on Tuesday to some 70 mayors who were in the Vatican for a two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organised by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences. He told them he had “a lot of hope'” that negotiators at Paris climate talks in December will reach an ambitious agreement to reduce global warming.
In his off-the-cuff greeting to the mayors in his native Spanish, he said huge migratory waves of peoples across the globe are triggered by environmental trends such as desertification and deforestation, which leave entire communities without a livelihood.
Thus – he said – the exodus of people into urban centres gives life to human trafficking which brings with it diverse forms of exploitation (be it economical or sexual) of women, children and vulnerable people.
Many of those who attended say they are committed to introducing policies aimed at bringing down the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. They hailed from cities in North and South America, Europe and from developing nations such as India and Gabon.
In a statement ahead of the meeting, the two hosting pontifical academies said “global warming is one of the causes of poverty and forced migrations, and it favours human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and organ trafficking.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told participants on Tuesday that Francis “did not convene us here to accept the status quo but to indict it.”
Governor Jerry Brown, whose drought-stricken state of California has enacted some of the most stringent carbon emissions policies in the US, decried “powerful” opposition groups in the US that “spend billions on trying to keep from office” people who believe climate change is real.
Above: Francis addresses mayors from around the world. Photo: CNS