The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has plans for a sustainable future

The two high-level conferences held at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences focused on the need to invest in science to save the oceans and the planet in an increasingly urbanized and industrialized world.

Author: Mario Galgano and Linda Bordoni

The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences has organized two talks this week to propose and discuss solutions to save the planet and its people from environmental degradation and its consequences.

The first event focused on the protection of people living in the oceans and coastal areas and their fishing livelihoods, while the second focused on the need to build sustainable cities as urbanization grows.

The president of the academy, agricultural scientist Joachim von Braun, spoke to Vatican Radio about the Academy’s “Casina Pio IV” week in the Vatican Gardens, and the urgent need to plan for the future and save in science. world.

Listen to an interview with Professor Joachim von Braun

Sea and ocean health

The first of two conferences held this week was “The health of the seas and oceans and their role in the present and future of humanity.”

Professor Von Braun explains that it was born out of a collaboration between the Pontifical Academy and the Stazione Zoologica in Naples, Anton Dohrn, the most important ocean research institute.

Ocean Cleanup NGO testing a device in Guatemala to contain garbage ending in the Atlantic Ocean

At the event, which was held on June 8, “together with the Naples organization, we prepared the scientific community for this month’s United Nations Summit on the Oceans,” he said.

The main focus of the conference was on how to protect the ocean to reduce overfishing, eliminate pollution, “especially plastic and microplastic pollution” through appropriate measures, and also the culture of coastal peoples. communities to be protected.

“At least 1 billion people live off ocean resources, and many of them are poor people.”

The professor said one of the main themes of the conference was rooted in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: “Caring for Ocean Life and Caring for People Related to the Ocean.”

Promising to follow up this activity in the future, a scientific agenda developed during the day, will require more follow-up activities.

Rebuilding the future of people and the planet

On June 9-10, the Vatican held a second conference entitled “Rebuilding the Future of People and the Planet.”

This conference, as explained by Professor von Braun, was organized with a new organization called “Bauhaus Earth” and focused on the future of urban areas and cities.

A large amount of rubbish floats near the houses in the Sao Jorge district of Manaus, Brazil

A large amount of rubbish floats near the houses in the Sao Jorge district of Manaus, Brazil

“Cities are growing very fast and the living environment, especially for the poor living in slums, is very unhealthy,” he said.

“The construction sector in which these cities are being built is unsustainable.”

Sustainability, beauty, inclusiveness

He noted in his keynote address that Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher stressed the need for sustainability, beauty and inclusiveness in all plans and projects for the construction of future urban realities.

The conference was opened by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who, according to Professor Von Braun, is a strong supporter of the initiative to make the construction sector sustainable.

The construction sector is a major pollutant in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it is one of the main contaminants that needs to be changed and changed.

He explained that beautiful examples were kept at the event, in which alternative materials and methods of construction were illustrated.

“Building with wood, clay, bamboo, paper,” he said, noting that building materials need to change like the design of houses and buildings.

“The design of cities needs to change and change,” he added.

Construction workers are on a scaffolding in an oil tanker in Lagos, Nigeria

Construction workers are on a scaffolding in an oil tanker in Lagos, Nigeria

Von Braun explained that the workshop created an agenda that envisages the development of all the issues worked on to build a sustainable future.

“It’s a very long-term agenda. Reconstructing the future of people and the planet must move forward in the coming decades, ”he stressed, noting that urbanization will increase.

“Urbanization will continue rapidly as we move from 8 billion to 10,000 million people.”

That said, the world population is likely to be the number that will stabilize. However, “the city’s population of about 4 billion people today will be much larger.”

“Probably 7 billion to 10,000 billion people will live in cities by the end of the century,” he said.

“We have an agenda for this century, but we need to start now. And we need to invest in science to make cities livable, sustainable and climate-neutral very quickly. ”


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