Pope Francis agrees, water is life and a basic human right. Promote life by protecting, sharing clean water, allowing it to remain “chaste” as St. Francis described it

People around the world are reclaiming their access to water as a basic human right, by seizing control of their water supplies from private companies. This matters because one of the biggest impacts of climate breakdown is to put stress on the water cycle. In a world increasingly prone to drought and flood, guaranteeing access to safe water supplies, especially for the most vulnerable, becomes an even greater challenge. The new municipal movement is putting people more in control of managing transitions.

Climate change is creating a ‘time bomb’ for the world’s supplies of fresh groundwater relied on by billions of people for survival, according to new evidence. That could mean those who are already vulnerable becoming more so, if they lack meaningful control over access to clean water.

But, between 2000 and 2015, there were 235 cases of water ‘remunicipalisation’– the process by which a city, region or national government terminates or refuses to renew water concessions, leases or management contracts with private companies, in order to bring water back under public control. As a result of this rapidly spreading trend of remunicipalisation, 100 million people across 37 countries now benefit from water as a public good, rather than a private commodity.

The upswing in remunicipalisation in the last two decades is a response to the failure of multinational corporations to deliver safe, reliable and affordable water to communities around the world. The 1990s saw a wave of privatisations, sponsored by national governments and multilateral development banks in developed and developing countries alike. In countries like Uruguay and South Africa, this wave of privatisations had devastating consequences – which extreme price hikes resulting in poor people losing all access to water. In response to the crises, these countries enshrined the right to water as a human right in their constitutions. In the industrialised world, in cities like Paris and Atlanta, private companies made huge profits whilst failing to invest in infrastructure and simultaneously increasing the costs to water consumers. France, the country which has the longest history with privatisation and home to two of the world’s largest water corporations, has seen the biggest wave of remunicipalisations – with 94 cities taking back control of their water supply since 2010.

By making water a human right and public good, rather than a vehicle of profit, water services have dramatically improved and costs to people have declined in cities across the world. This rapid transition to reclaim the right to water is a promising example of the power of people and the public sector to take on neoliberal forces of privatisation, and to improve the provision of basic services for all.

Wider relevance

The growing trend of remunicipalisation of water is interesting because it contradicts the oft-repeated claim that private sector performance will always be superior to public provision. Since the 1990s, international financial institutions have been pushing countries, regions and municipalities to cede control of their water to multilateral corporations, on the basis that they would be more efficient and provide a higher quality service. At the World Water Forum hosted at the Hague in 2000, senior World Bank officials claimed that “there is no alternative” to privatisation, and as the banks supported the expansion of privatised water services – through concessions, leases and public-private partnerships – across the developing world, it seemed that they were right.

However, the growing opposition and domino effect of remunicipalisation since 2010, means that even the banks have had to recognise that their drive to privatize has only resulted in poorer service, higher fees, and in some cases, breaches of fundamental human rights. The World Bank admitted in 2015 that the failure rate of water and sewerage privatisations the Bank backed had reached 34%. The IFC also noted in 2013 that 28% of its water investments in the last 20 years had failed or were in difficulty, and that close to 40% of the complaints it received were in relation to water – even though water projects made up a relatively small proportion of the projects the IFC funds. In 2015 the IFC announced it had no new water concession projects in Africa and was working on fewer in developing countries in general.

What is also fascinating about the escalating number of remunicipalisation cases, is that they have usually gone hand in hand with significant improvements in the quality of provision. As the profit motive has been eliminated, public providers have been able to focus on enhanced access and improved service. In 2010, the first year of operations of Eau de Paris, the municipal utility realized efficiency savings of 35 million Euros, which allowed for an 8% decrease in tariffs for residents. Eau de Paris also increased its contribution to the city’s housing solidarity fund by 325,000 Euro, and paid a water solidarity allocation to 44,000 poor households in the city. Similarly, in Buenos Aires, following the remunicipalisation from French water multinational Suez in 2006, the new public water company AySA invested millions in improving infrastructure and expanded service to 700,000 water users. Improvements in quality, service and costs are the knock-on effects of treating water as a basic human right, rather than as a need that can be satisfied by private corporations in exchange for profit. 

Context and background

Before the 1990s, in most countries the provision of water services was handled by public institutions – with the notable exception of France and a few cities in ex-French colonies. In Paris, contracts for water supply were divided between the two French multinational companies Suez and Veolia, in a 25-year lease in place from 1984. For decades, these companies made huge profits whilst over-charging Parisians for a sub-standard service. An audit in the year 2000 found that the prices the companies charged were 25-30% higher than the economically justifiable costs.

Despite the obvious flaws, the French privatized model was replicated throughout the Global South during a wave of privatisations in the 1990s.  These privatizations, often led by the two French water giants, were promoted by the World Bank and other international institutions in order to support the development of more market orientated economies in the Global South. All too often, however, the outcomes for the urban poor in many developing countries were disastrous.

In 1997 the Bolivian Government signed up to a World Bank loan to improve water provision in its main cities, that had privatisation of those systems as a condition. In 1999, the government handed over Cochabamba’s water supply to the US corporation Bechtel, with no public consultation. The cost of water tripled and the company even introduced a charge for collecting rain water. A year after Bechtel’s take-over, over half the residents had no access to clean water. In post-Apartheid South Africa, following the advice of the IMF and various donor governments, the government cut subsidies to municipalities and city councils, and incentivised privatisation of basic services. The French multinational Suez took over water provision in Cape Town in 1994. Two years later, the charges for water and refuse removal had increased by 600%. When people were unable to cover the increased fees, their water services were cut off. Shortly after Suez took over water services in Johannesburg, an outbreak of cholera took hold in the township of Alexandra.

In Argentina, through a similar process, Suez and Veolia carved up the water contracts in the 1990s. In 1993 Buenos Aires granted a 30-year concession to a subsidiary of Suez. The profits of the company soared, whilst residents saw an 88% increase in their water bills. Suez also failed to make sufficient investments to improve access or service provision, and, following the Argentinian debt crisis of 2002, the company sued the government for its financial losses.

In Uruguay, despite a similar pattern or poor service and price hikes making water unavailable to the poor, the Uruguayan government signed a letter of intent with International Monetary Fund in 2002, in which the country committed to extending the privatisation of its water services. It was the reaction of the Uruguayan people in rallying against this letter of intent that marked the beginning of a powerful movement of grass-roots actors around the world fighting for access to water as a fundamental right.

Enabling factors

The failure of private water companies to provide affordable and reliable water provision has been the key catalyst for the remunicipalisation movement. In Paris, the overpriced and poor service, along with the financial irregularities uncovered by auditors, ultimately led to the Mayor’s decision not to renew the city’s contracts with Suez and Veolia when they expired in 2010. After Paris took the leap in re-establishing a public water utility, dozens of other French cities followed suit. In fact, 40% of the cases of municipalisation cases that have taken place globally since 2000 have been French cities – 94 cities in total.

This fact is evidence of another contributing factor to municipalisation – its domino effect. Remunicipalised water operators from Paris and Grenoble were key allies in supporting other local authorities in France and beyond to take back control of their water services. In the last decade, the spread of such ‘Public-Public Partnerships’ (PUPs) in the water sector has been growing, through which cities have been able to learn from each other’s experiences, building further momentum for change.

An additional, and crucial, factor in regaining public control of water provision has been civil society leadership and broad-based public campaigns. In South Africa, for example, the Coalition Against Water Privatisation, brought together a coalition of social movements and progressive NGOs, which mobilised and organised poor communities to oppose privatization and lobbied the government for reforms.

In Uruguay, a similarly broad-based coalition of actors came together under the Commission for the Defence of Water and Life (CNDAV) following the signing of the IMF letter of intent to expand water privatisation. CNDAV successfully campaigned to achieve the 283,000 votes they needed to request a plebiscite on an amendment to the Uruguayan constitution, which stated “Water is a natural resource for life. Access to drinking water and the sewage system constitute a fundamental human right”. Despite a strong counter lobby from the multinational corporations and development banks, the amendment was won with 64% of the votes.

In Bolivia, the reversal of water privatisation was achieved through the mass mobilisation of people. The Cochabamba Water War, as it came to be known, saw hundreds of thousands of protesters marching on the streets against the Government and the World Bank sponsored Bechtel contract[vii]. Violent clashes with police resulted in the death of one student protester, shortly after which Bechtel withdrew from the country, and sued Bolivia for damages. The Bolivian Government was forced to revoke the Water Privatisation law and a decade later, under the Government of Evo Morales (who had been involved in the protests) access to water was enshrined as a human right in the Bolivian Constitution.

Scope and evidence

  • Globally, the cases of remunicipalisation of water services have increased from two cases in two countries in 2000 to 235 cases in 37 countries by 2015.
  • Remunicipalisations of water provision has affected over 100 million people since 2000.
  • The number of cases of remunicipalisations doubled in the 2010-2015 period compared with 2000-2010.
  • Remunicipalisations have taken place in the industrialised world and Global South alike, however, cases are more concentrated in high-income countries, with 184 remunicipalisations compared to 51 in low- and middle-income countries. The great majority have taken place in two countries: France (94 cases) and the US (58 cases).

Lessons for a rapid transition

  1. In a warming world hit by more extreme weather, where access to safe drinking water for many will become harder, the tide of neoliberal policies and privatisation in a sector – which can increase the vulnerability of the most marginalised – can be reversed, and quickly, even at a global scale.
  2. Our environmental commons can be reclaimed and better cared for in public hands.
  3. Enshrining access to water as a fundamental human right in national constitutions has been an effective vehicle to guard against encroaching privatisation.


The Pope speaks at seminar on “The human right to water”, 24.02.2017
“Where There is Water There is Life”

Today was the final day of the seminar on the theme “The human right to water” held in the Vatican the Casina Pio IV, promoted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as an interdisciplinary study on the central role of public policies in the management of water and environmental services.

This afternoon, at 3.30, the Holy Father spoke in the concluding session. The following is the full text of his address:

I greet all of you and I thank you for taking part in this meeting concerned with the human right to water and the need for suitable public policies in this regard. It is significant that you have gathered to pool your knowledge and resources in order to respond to this urgent need and this problem of today’s men and women.

The Book of Genesis tells us that water was there in the beginning (cf. Gen 1:2); in the words of Saint Francis of Assisi, it is “useful, chaste and humble” (cf. Canticle of the Creatures). The questions that you are discussing are not marginal, but basic and pressing. Basic, because where there is water there is life, making it possible for societies to arise and advance. Pressing, because our common home needs to be protected. Yet it must also be realised that not all water is life-giving, but only water that is safe and of good quality – as St. Francis again tells us, water that “serves with humility”, “chaste” water, not polluted.

All people have a right to safe drinking water. This is a basic human right and a central issue in today’s world (cf. Laudato Si’, 30; Caritas in Veritate, 27). It is sad when in the legislation of a country or a group of countries, water is not considered as a human right. It is even sadder still when what is written is neglected, and this human right is denied. This is a problem that affects everyone and is a source of great suffering in our common home. It also cries out for practical solutions capable of surmounting the selfish concerns that prevent everyone from exercising this fundamental right.

Water needs to be given the central place it deserves in the framework of public policy. Our right to water is also a duty to water. Our right to water gives rise to an inseparable duty. We are obliged to proclaim this essential human right and to defend it – as we have done – but we also need to work concretely to bring about political and juridical commitments in this regard. Every state is called to implement, also through juridical instruments, the Resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly since 2010 concerning the human right to a secure supply of drinking water. Similarly, non-state actors are required to assume their own responsibilities with respect to this right.

The right to water is essential for the survival of persons (cf. Laudato Si’, 30) and decisive for the future of humanity.  High priority needs to be given to educating future generations about the gravity of the situation. Forming consciences is a demanding task, one requiring conviction and dedication. And I wonder if, in the midst of this “piecemeal third world war” that we are experiencing, if we are not on the path towards a great world war over water.

The statistics provided by the United Nations are troubling, nor can they leave us indifferent. Each day a thousand children die from water-related illnesses and millions of persons consume polluted water. These facts are serious; we have to halt and reverse this situation. It is not too late, but it is urgent to realise the need and essential value of water for the good of mankind.

Respect for water is a condition for the exercise of the other human rights (cf. ibid., 30). If we consider this right fundamental, we will be laying the foundations for the protection of other rights. But if we neglect this basic right, how will we be able to protect and defend other rights? Our commitment to give water its proper place calls for developing a culture of care (cf. ibid., 231) – it seems to be something poetic and, indeed, Creation is a “poiesis”, this culture of care that is creative – and also fostering a culture of encounter, joining in common cause all the necessary efforts made by scientists and business people, government leaders and politicians. We need to unite our voices in a single cause; then it will no longer be a case of hearing individual or isolated voices, but rather the plea of our brothers and sisters echoed in our own, and the cry of the earth for respect and responsible sharing in a treasure belonging to all.  In this culture of encounter, it is essential that each state act as a guarantor of universal access to safe and clean water.

God the Creator does not abandon us in our efforts to provide access to clean drinking water to each and to all. But the work is up to us, the responsibility is ours. It is my hope that this Conference will help strengthen your convictions and that you will leave in the certainty that your work is necessary and of paramount importance so that others can live. With the “little” we have, we will be helping to make our common home a more liveable and fraternal place, better cared for, where none are rejected or excluded, but all enjoy the goods needed to live and to grow in dignity. And let us not forget the United Nations data, the figures. Let us not forget that every day a thousand children, every day, die of water-related diseases.

Thank you.


In Laudato Si’ and Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis is sharing the good news.  Pope Francis conveys as a pastor and concerned father that he hears and sees that it is difficult and that people often see no way out, no alternatives.  Above all, Pope Francis emphasizes how interconnected we and all life are and that our dignity and identity as Christians is at stake, as well as the ability of all to live and thrive.

Below are exhortations from Pope Francis in Laudato Si’.

  • Embrace our mother. Share. Our common home is a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us (LS 1)
  • Hear our sister who now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). 
  • (Remember) that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. (LS 2)
  • Defend human life from various forms of debasement.  Fully respect each human person. (LS 5) Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”.[7] JP II, Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991), 37: AAS 83 (1991), p. 863. Authentic human development has a moral character. It presumes full respect for the human person, but it must also be concerned for the world around us and “take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system”.[8] JP II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (30 December 1987), 34: AAS 80 (1988), 559.
  • We must proceed, in our human ability to transform reality, “in line with God’s original gift of all that is.” LS 5 [9] JPII f. ID., Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991), 37: AAS 83 (1991), 840.
  • Eliminat(e) the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correct models…which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment”.[10] Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See (8 January 2007): AAS 99 (2007), 73.  Pope Benedict observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since “the book of nature is one and indivisible” Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 51: AAS 101 (2009), 687.
  • Remember we don’t only create ourselves and we are also naturenot just spirit and will. [12] Creation is harmed “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. (LS 6, quoting Pope Benedict, Address to the Bundestag, Berlin (22 September 2011): AAS 103 (2011), 664.)
  • Seeing creation as our own property is the start of misuse. “The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves”. (LS 6, quoting Pope Benedict, [13] Address to the Clergy of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone (6 August 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 634.
  • Replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”.[17] As Christians, we are also called “to
  • Accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”.[18]
  • Be concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. (St. Francis) loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace. Commune with all creation.  Care for all that exists.
  • See that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone.
  • Realize that the call and challenge to protect our common home is urgent.
  • Bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development
  • Know that things can change (and that) The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.  I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.
  • (Don’t indulge in) Obstructionist attitudes, (which) even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions.
  • (Instead take on and live out) a new and universal solidarity. (LS 14) As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”.[22]
  • (Allow space for/include all). All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.
  • Remember and listen to the young people, who demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.
  • Don’t privatize the resources of the earth (LS 30), such as water and the climate systems, a common good that supports us all. (LS 16)
  • Drastically reduce emissions and implement policies for this soon/with urgency. Develop policies so that in the next few years (from 2015) emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.(no. 26).  The Pope emphasizes that this is particularly urgent and a need, something we must do, for the care of all.
  • Develop more/plentiful access worldwide to clean and renewable energy.  Develop adequate storage technologies.
  • Invest in means of production and transportation which consume less energy and require fewer raw materials, as well as in methods of construction and renovating buildings which improve their energy efficiency. But these good practices are still far from widespread.
  • Look beyond “potential ‘resources; to be exploited” to see the inherent value of other life on earth and the Earth itself/herself(LS 33) Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. (The Earth and species have inherent rights and) We have no such right (to take those). (LS 33)
  • Bring farsightedness to your faith and work, looking across generations (LS 36. Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained. Where certain species are destroyed or seriously harmed, the values involved are incalculable. We can be silent witnesses to terrible injustices if we think that we can obtain significant benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, pay the extremely high costs of environmental deterioration.
  • (Extend greater protection to areas richer both in the number of species and in endemic, rare or less protected species) because of their immense importance for the global ecosystem, or because they represent important water reserves and thus safeguard other forms of life. (LS, 37).  Also, we need the lungs of our planet (LS 37-41)
  • Understand and invest in research to more fully understand the functioning of ecosystems the different variables associated with any significant modification of the environment. Because all creatures are connected…
  • Cherish each creature with love and respectfor all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another. Each is responsible for the care of this family. This will require undertaking a careful inventory of the species which it hosts, with a view to developing programs and strategies of protection with particular care for safeguarding species heading towards extinction. (LS 42)
  • Help media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. (LS 47) Thus: allow time for self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter with others.
  • Attend to causes of human and social degradation, including present imbalances. (LS 48) In fact, the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet.  The impact of present imbalances is also seen in the premature death of many of the poor, in conflicts sparked by the shortage of resources, and in any number of other problems which are insufficiently represented on global agendas. [27]
  • Contact, encounter.  Lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to (so avoid) a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. (LS 49)
  • Don’t…attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”.[29] (LS 50)
  • Consider an ethics of international relations. A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of timeThe export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialized north has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining. There is a pressing need to
  • Calculate the use of environmental space throughout the world for depositing gas residues which have been accumulating for two centuries and have created a situation which currently affects all the countries of the world. The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming. There is also the damage caused by the export of solid waste and toxic liquids to developing countries, and by the pollution produced by companies which operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home, in the countries in which they raise their capital (LS 51).
  • Operate to the same standards everywhere and for all. “We note that often the businesses which operate this way are multinationals. They do here what they would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world. Generally, after ceasing their activity and withdrawing, they leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforesta-tion, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable”. [30] (LS 51)
  • Make ecological debt a controlling factor instead of financial debt. The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned. In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future. The land of the southern poor is rich and mostly unpolluted, yet access to ownership of goods and resources for meeting vital needs is inhibited by a system of commercial relations and ownership which is structurally perverse. The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programs of sustainable development. The poorest areas and countries are less capable of adopting new models for reducing environmental impact because they lack the wherewithal to develop the necessary processes and to cover their costs. We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities. As the United States bishops have said, we must…(LS 52)
  • Give greater attention to “the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests”.[31] We need to…(LS 53)
  • Strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference. (LS 53)
  • Hear how these situations (recounted in Laudato Si’) have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another courseNever have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. (LS 53). We are called to
  • Be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness. The problem is that we still lack (and we must) (LS 53)
  • Develop the culture needed to confront this crisis(LS 53) We must be and…
  • (Present the) leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all here now, with equal regard for coming generations. (LS 53) (We must…
  • (Establish and use) a legal framework which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems; otherwise, the new power structures based on the techno-economic paradigm may overwhelm not only our politics but also freedom and justice. (LS 53)
  • (We must rescue our politics from weak responses and capture by) technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected. The Aparecida Document urges that “the interests of economic groups which irrationally demolish sources of life should not prevail in dealing with natural resources”.[32] The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interestsDevelop(ing) more effective controls and work(ing) to combat corruption. People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behavior, which at times appears self-destructive (LS 55)… economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment. Here we see how environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked. Many people will deny doing anything wrong because distractions constantly dull our consciousness of just how limited and finite our world really is. As a result, “whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule”.[33] (LS 56). It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars, albeit under the guise of noble claims… political planning tends to lack breadth of vision. What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so? (LS 57)
  • Maintain hope.  show that men and women are still capable of intervening positivel For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love. (LS 58)
  • Beware of confusion and excuses that delay action to save others.  As often occurs in periods of deep crisis which require bold decisions, we are tempted to think that what is happening is not entirely clear. Superficially, apart from a few obvious signs of pollution and deterioration, things do not look that serious, and the planet could continue as it is for some time. Such evasiveness serves as a license to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption. This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen. (LS 59)
  • Listen to and look at/for a wide range of solutions.  Acknowledge that different approaches and lines of thought have emerged regarding this situation and its possible solutions… Viable future scenarios will have to be generated between these extremes, since there is no one path to a solution. This makes a variety of proposals possible, all capable of entering into dialogue with a view to developing comprehensive solutions. (LS 60) We need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. (LS 61)
  • Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems. Still, we can see signs that things are now reaching a breaking point, due to the rapid pace of change and degradation; these are evident in large-scale natural disasters as well as social and even financial crises, for the world’s problems cannot be analyzed or explained in isolation. (LS 61)
  • Realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality. Respect must also be shown for the various cultural riches of different peoples, their art and poetry, their interior life and spirituality.(LS 63) If we are truly concerned to develop an ecology capable of remedying the damage we have done, no branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it. (LS 63) importance of other religions, perspectives, insights
  • (Show the path of) how faith convictions can offer Christians, and some other believers as well, ample motivation to care for nature and for the most vulnerable of their brothers and sisters. If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn “realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith”.[36] It is good for humanity and the world at large when we believers better recognize the ecological commitments which stem from our convictions…“keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies (LS 67)
  • Live a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. LS 67: Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Ps 24:1); to him belongs “the earth with all that is within it” (Dt 10:14). Thus God rejects every claim to absolute ownership: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev 25:23).
  • Respect the laws of nature and the delicate equilibria existing between the creatures of this world (LS 68). Clearly, the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.