2021-06-16 GENERAL HOUSE

17th June: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

As Marists of Champagnat we want to continue to join in the days of remembrance of those causes that fight for a better world, that want to improve the living conditions of our brothers and sisters. The drought, the growing desertification of some areas, is harming thousands of people who live in those areas. This date joins other initiatives along the same lines: the International Soil Conservation Day, celebrated every 7 July, or the World Soil Day, celebrated on 5 December.

We know that drought and desertification are processes that can be caused by climatic variations, and we know that these phenomena have always occurred. We are also aware that these phenomena are being aggravated and accelerated by human action: overexploitation, inadequate use of water, use of chemical products, deforestation… are factors that favour and accelerate desertification processes. Desertification, according to some analysts, affects more than 100 countries on 5 continents. Some governments have begun to take measures, although the promises are often reduced to mere good intentions. We are not talking about a minor issue.

We are facing phenomena that must be tackled globally, in collaboration with other organisations, because this way our actions will be faster, more effective and will reach more places and more people. Some of the projects we are developing already take the ecological issue into account, and we are invited to make this type of project more and more present in our action initiatives.

The lack of care for the world we live in directly affects the human beings who inhabit this “common home“. Therefore, protecting the earth helps to protect those who inhabit it. Protecting people should also mean preserving the natural environment in which we live. As an example, the Solidarity Secretariat and FMSI are promoting the Universal Periodic Review in Papua New Guinea, where one of the project objectives focuses specifically on environmental care.

The first step is to be aware of this reality, and that it also concerns the lives of millions of people who are affected by both drought and desertification. A second step is to know that each one of us, individually and as an institution, can do our bit (through education of future generations, through concrete initiatives, by joining the work of other organisations through networking…).

The Message of the XXII General Chapter, in the “Principles and Suggestions”, points out to us the urgency of changing the way we live”, inviting us to base it on an integral ecology, along the linesproposed by Pope Francis in Laudato Si. In addition, the Chapter Message suggested that we “develop policies at all levels of the Institute that strengthen our commitment to care for our common home”.

It is up to us to be creative, to do our bit, to be open to working together with others, to start with our personal and concrete reality. It is an urgent task. Our world and our brothers and sisters cannot wait.


Br. Ángel Diego – Director of the Solidarity Secretariat


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