Caritas Asia, in collaboration with Caritas India, organized a webinar on the occasion of the World Humanitarian Day celebration to address the issues around climate change and how it has led to increasing series of disasters leading to a higher increase in demand for humanitarian work and aid across the world. The webinar, held on August 19th, 2021, attracted 236 participants from 18 MOs in Asia, eight Caritas Global Partners, Caritas Internationalis and the Caritas India national network. The webinar was held on Zoom and as a YouTube live stream.
The opening prayer led by Ms. Leeza of Caritas India marked the start of the webinar and was followed by a welcome note by Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, President of Caritas Asia. Highlighting the occurrence of climate-induced disasters in parts of the world and Asia, Dr. Benedict appealed to everyone to prioritize and address the environmental concerns that affect the lives of the most vulnerable. He added that as Caritas, we need to continue working with the most vulnerable, step up our approach to strengthen and renew our action plan to save our common home.
During the webinar, Fr. (Dr.) Paul Moonjely, Director of Caritas India, emphasized the importance of four Ps: people, planet, peace and prosperity. He also raised concerns of entitlement of lands for the poor people, importance to focus on water conservation measures and promotion of courageous innovations.
In his video message, Mr. Aloysius John, CI General Secretary, emphasized that the only appropriate response to the World Humanitarian Day celebration is alignment with the teaching of Pope Francis, namely integral ecology which puts the interest and dignity of the human persons at the center of all activities and decisions.
Caritas Asia invited three speakers for the webinar who offered their perspectives and experiences on climate change issue and climate action from different points of view. Ms. Clare Westwood, Regional Director of the Episcopal Commission for Creation Justice of Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei, presented her eye-opening facts and trends of the increasing global temperature and pollution around the globe. She also mentioned that everyone, everywhere in the world, is at risk of climate change. She called for immediate action to change since global warming depends on our choices on day-to-day basis.
The second speaker, Prof. N. Vinod Chandra Menon, founder and member of the India National Disaster Management Authority, acknowledged the contribution of humanitarian practitioners and professionals in emergency responses, including those who lost their lives while serving the people and fighting for climate change. Mr. Menon emphasized that with the rise of climate-induced hazards, malnutrition, loss of food security, pandemic and disasters (flood, drought, landslide and ground water depletion), we have to be a part of the solution.
Fr. Antonio Labiao, Executive Secretary of Caritas Philippines, shared their roadmap of sustainability and resilience through their Laudato Si National Plan and the importance of equal convergence of Church and Community Social Organizations. In addition, Fr. Antonio shared that it is important to ensure coherence of building community capacity at the grassroot level with mobilization and involvement of entire elements in the existing structures at every level (national to diocesan/community levels) in order to facilitate the empowerment and resiliency program in the communities.
Through this webinar, Caritas Asia collated the key points shared by the speakers and participants to produce a joint message as a contribution to the Caritas Confederation’s effort in echoing the region’s concerns on climate change in the COP 26 conference which took place in the UK in November 2021.
This webinar was hosted by Caritas Asia and was moderated jointly by Caritas Asia and Caritas India. Please click here for the complete webinar.