Commissioner Karmenu VELLA
Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Papal Audience with EU Ministers for Environment and
Commissioners on "Laudato Si"
16 September 2015
[9:00 according to invitation letter by LU /IT]
Auletta of the Aula Paolo VI
Member of Cabinet responsible: Lanfranco FANTI
(including contact number(s)
• I am impressed by the all-encompassing extent of the Encyclical
terms of environmental challenges you mention and lines of action
I welcome your words on the natural environment being "a collective
, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of
everyone". I fully agree with you that there is a close relationship
between environmental challenges, and social and human issues.
• Many of the topics you refer to lie at the very heart of what we are
trying to achieve with EU environmental policies
, together with
Member States, regions, citizens and businesses in the EU.
• 'Laudato Si' was referred to often in the final discussions on the
Sustainable Development Goals.
The final outcome is a significant
step forward as it charts a path towards sustainability for the world,
with clear responsibilities for all countries.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2) SPEAKING POINTS
3) DEFENSIVE POINTS
4) BACKGROUND INFORMATION
CV OF POPE FRANCIS
LETTER FROM PRESIDENT JUNCKER TO POPE FRANCIS (REF.
ARES(2015)3168934 - 28/07/2015)
His Holiness Pope Francis has recently voiced his opinion on consumerism and irresponsible
development, environmental degradation and climate change through his second Encyclical
“Laudato si’ - On care for our common home”. The strong stance of His Holiness in linking
sustainable development and the fight against poverty has nurtured discussion all over the
world and his words could create a positive momentum on the way to COP21.
President Juncker replied to the Encyclical on 28 July, referring to the (then proposed)
Sustainable Development Goals and the climate change negotiations in December.
President Juncker hoped that the Encyclical would serve as a wake-up call and encourage
people to address our common future.
At the initiative of the Italian government and in light of “Laudato si’ - On care for our common
home”, His Holiness has accepted to meet all the 28 Ministers of Environment and Climate of
the European Union, Commissioner Arias Cañete and you for a high level exchange of views
as well as a chance to show the European Union’s commitment to reach a global agreement
in Paris next December.
To show the EU’s commitment to improve the state of our environment for current and
To explain further that the EU has strong policies in areas such as sustainable
consumption and production and biodiversity protection, and is about to adopt a new
package on the circular economy;
To highlight the EU's support for the Sustainable Development Goals as a transformative
agenda to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development globally, and our
commitment to reflect both ambition and transformation in our implementation of the
goals within the EU and with partner countries.
To recall that more can be done by the Vatican itself to address illegal trade in timber and
ivory as well as endangered species (the latter via CITES).
I am impressed by the all-encompassing extent of the
in terms of the environmental challenges you
mention and Lines of Action you propose.
I not only welcome your words on the natural environment
being "a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and
the responsibility of everyone
"1, but I also fully agree with you
that there is a close relationship between environmental
challenges, and social and human issues.
Many of the topics you refer are at the very heart of what
we are trying to achieve with EU environmental policies,
together with Member States, regions, citizens and
businesses in the EU. From pollution to air quality, from
access to water to biodiversity and the importance to move
towards a circular economy, Her Holiness, we have many
common goals. Let me give a few examples:
• Both the EU citizens and people globally continue to suffer
from poor air quality. Air
pollution continues to cause
around 400 000 premature deaths in the EU each year
and around 3.7 million worldwide. Millions of people suffer
from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases due to air
pollution which constraints their normal daily activities. If
1 NB this and following "quotes
" are from the Encyclical
we don't take measures, outdoor air pollution is projected
to become the top cause of environmentally related
deaths worldwide in 2050. A Clean Air Package that is to
reduce health impacts in the EU by more than halve is
therefore one of the main initiatives that I am overseeing
during my mandate.
'Laudato Si' was referred to often in the final discussions
on the Sustainable Development Goals.
outcome is a significant step forward as it charts a path
towards sustainability for the world, with clear
responsibilities for all countries. I take one example which
is to me very telling: Sustainable Development Goal 6
aims to "Ensure availability and sustainable management
of water and sanitation for all". Without water there is no
life for humans or nature and often conflicts are generated
by the attempt to control water resources. Therefore,
sustainable water management can give a major
contribution to building peace, based on transboundary
cooperation modelled, for instance, on what we have
developed through the EU Water Framework Directive.
To move away from the "throw-away culture
" that you
rightly condemn, the EU wants to transform itself into a
. At the end of 2015, the European
Commission will publish a package of measures to promote a
"circular model of producing
", reducing waste and enhancing
recycling, including of nutrients. We support consumption
models that favour "sharing" over "owning". Such efforts will
help reduce and eventually reverse the excessive pressure
on our planet's natural resources and to avoid our home from
looking "like an immense pile of filth
The EU is committed to halting biodiversity
the EU by 2020 and the EU's Birds and Habitats Directives,
which are the core of the EU nature legislation, have been
instrumental in preserving species and protecting habitats
For example, over the last 25 years the EU has built up a
vast network of protected areas, Natura 2000, amounting to
18% of the EU’s land area.
• The EU is also cognisant of its shared responsibility to help
address global challenges, and reduce the impacts of EU
activities outside its own borders
. As an example, the EU
prohibits the placing on the market of illegally-logged timber.
All states, including the Holy See, should follow this example
in order to render such measures most effective.
• You highlight some positive examples of global action
among them CITES (Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), to which we
hope the Holy See will sign up, for instance, by addressing
the issue of ivory trafficking. Likewise, we hope the Holy See
will become a Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity
In order to implement this agenda, the EU is committed to
reflect these goals and targets in its external policies and its
relations with its partners. Internally, we already have much
in place to help us achieve these goals, but the ambitious
and transformative nature of the SDGs will require the EU to
deliver a beyond “business as usual” response.
How does the EU propose to respond to the challenges and lines of action put forward
in the Encyclical?
The EU is deeply committed to sustainability and environmental protection, but also to
good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law. These goals and
principles are enshrined in our legislation and guide our daily endeavours. In recent years
they have been reflected in ambitious European Union legislative and non-legislative
initiatives on energy and climate change; sustainable consumption and production; the
circular economy; and biodiversity protection; amongst others.
In terms of EU action in particular policy fields [NB complementing those already
mentioned in speaking points:
EU Policies on air quality
have contributed to considerable improvements in air
quality over the past decades. Of course challenges remain as we are still facing
significant numbers of premature deaths every year caused by air pollution, and we
are currently revising key pieces of air quality legislation.
The EU has a whole set of water-
related legislation in place to protect the quality of
its drinking water, and improve the management of rivers and other water bodies.
Freshwater quality has much improved over the last 25 years, but more remains to be
done, for which we rely on public participation and cross-border cooperation through
river basin management plans.
It is also important to mention the first European Citizens' Initiative on the issue of
access to and quality of drinking water (the Rigth2Water Initiative). The Commission
believes that not only access, also the quality of drinking water has to be seen as a
human right and a condition for equal living conditions in Europe. The European
Union will ensure its legislation guarantees safe and healthy drinking water (e.g.
through the review of the Drinking Water Directive).
Likewise, we have ambitious legislation for marine waters
, to achieve their Good
Environmental Status by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-
related economic and social activities depend. This includes tackling marine litter with
close links to EU legislation on waste.
We recognise the importance of healthy soils
. While there is no comprehensive set
of rules in the EU for soils, existing EU policies in areas such as agriculture, water,
and waste, contribute to the protection of soils.
EU legislation requires ensuring that plans, programmes and projects likely to have
significant effects on the environment are subject to an environmental assessment
prior to their approval or authorisation. Consultation with the public is a key feature of
environmental assessment procedures.
You rightly refer to climate change
as "one of the principal challenges facing
humanity in our day". In the run-up to the Paris summit at the end of the year, the EU
pursues its vision for an ambitious, global agreement as my colleague Commissioner
Arias Cañete can elaborate on.
Does the EU consider revising its growth model, recognising that often "people’s
quality of life actually diminishes – by the deterioration of the environment, the low
quality of food or the depletion of resources – in the midst of economic growth"?
Europe has experienced a financial and economic crisis over the last years that has left
many European citizens worse off. The crisis has had a number of worrying social
impacts, such as high levels of youth unemployment and increased social vulnerability.
The European Commission's overarching priority is therefore to bring back jobs and
growth to Europe. But, we also want to maintain social cohesion and to ensure that the
benefits of growth are widely enjoyed.
This view of balanced growth that is good for all is at the heart of the Europe 2020
strategy, launched in 2010 as the basis for sustainable growth in the EU. This strategy
goes beyond mere economic development and encompasses wider dimensions, such as
resource efficiency, climate and energy. We also recognise that progress should not be
measured by GDP alone, and so the Commission is continuing its work on developing
indicators and composite indices to complement GDP through its "Beyond GDP"
Humanitarian crises and wars in the Middle East and elsewhere have increased the
number of those seeking refuge in the EU. Desertification and the impacts of climate
change will be felt increasingly in those parts of the world that already now suffer
from floods, water scarcity and other hazards. How will the EU handle and be able to
accommodate an increasing number of environmental migrants in the future?
The EU recognises the need to address the environmental drivers of migration, most
notably water scarcity and land degradation, which are significant causes for people to
move from rural areas in particular and seek improved living conditions elsewhere. The
EU is tackling these issues through funding for programmes to support sustainable
agriculture, including climate-smart agriculture and more efficient water management in
affected countries and where possible to reverse the trend of land degradation through
sustainable land management, including re-forestation.
In relation to the wars in the Middle East, the EU is currently modifying its policy towards
its Neighbours (European Neighbourhood Policy); Migration will most probably be a
priority area for cooperation with a special emphasis on addressing the root causes of
migration, including environmental drivers. We already have specific funding programmes
aimed at restoring the ecosystems that constitute the main sources of livelihood for
communities around the Mediterranean, in particular the Initiative for a cleaner
Mediterranean by the year 2020, and that promote the sustainable management of water
resources. We also support Mediterranean communities to switch to more sustainable
consumption and production practices and to adapt to climate change. The EU has
committed for the next two years almost €700 million between bilateral and regional
support on programmes that directly or indirectly address environmental and climate
change issues. Our environment programmes in the Mediterranean also provide a
platform for dialogue in conflict areas (Israel and Palestine) to bring people together.
The EU will also continue providing substantial support to communities hosting large
numbers of refugees in the Middle East, such as Jordan (€160 million)2 and Lebanon
(€250 million),3 to increase their resilience, ensure long-term sustainability and prevent
further environmental degradation. The EU support acknowledges the additional pressure
of the massive influx of refugees on the already fragile environment of those countries,
particularly in relation to management of water and waste-water, solid waste
management, air quality, land use and ecosystems. In post-conflict areas, the EU also
contributes to environmental restoration (e.g., soil de-contamination, land restoration,
water de-pollution) to pave the way to economic recovery.
2 Since the beginning of the conflict
3 Since the beginning of the conflict
Does the Commission plan a revised Sustainable Development Strategy?
At the end of this month, at the 70th UN General Assembly in New York, we will formally
adopt the new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Once adopted, these
goals will provide a useful framework for the EU's work on sustainable development. We
will soon start work to frame their implementation at EU level, in line with our
Communication adopted in February on the post-2015 agenda that sets out the
overarching implementation principles.
The encyclical letter "Laudato si" of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on are for our
4 was published on 18 June 2015. It has provoked wide media attention,
already following the publication of a leaked document a couple of days earlier. The
Encyclical is an extensive document in size and in its coverage of topics relating to the
environment but also to the economic the financial system and the social consequences of
environmental deterioration. In six chapters, Pope Francis
1. sets out the environmental challenges the Earth is facing (What is happening to our
) incl. in areas in the competence of DG ENV, such as biodiversity loss,
water in particular access to clean drinking water globally, (excessive) resource use, air
pollution and its health impacts, soil and its degradation through unsustainable
agricultural techniques, the (un)sustainability of cities, the benefits from and protection of
forests, woodlands and wetlands, but also climate change and excessive consumption of
2. explains why believers of the Christian religion (and other religions) should care about
environmental degradation (The gospel of creation
3. explains the human roots of the ecological crisis
, lamenting that "modern
anthropocentrism has ended up prizing technical thought over reality" and recalls that "in
order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which
favours productive diversity and business creativity";
4. puts forward his concept of Integral ecology
that links environmental challenges to their
economic (growth), social and cultural dimension and recalls the need to consider all of
these to attain the "common good", while being just to future generations;
5. proposes Lines of approach and action
, lauding the global ecological movement and
several international negotiations (he mentions as positive examples the Basel
Convention, CITES, Montreal Protocol, whereas less progress has been achieved on
climate change and biodiversity conventions) and, in the context of ocean governance
and marine litter, calling for "an agreement on systems of governance for the whole
range of so-called 'global commons'". He also asks us "to grow in the conviction that a
decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another
form of progress and development". He points out that "environmental impact
assessment should not come after the drawing up of a business proposition or the
proposal of a particular policy, plan or programme. It should be part of the process from
the beginning, and be carried out in a way which is interdisciplinary, transparent and free
of all economic or political pressure".
6. and finally closes by pointing out that “change is impossible without motivation and a
process of education” (Ecological education and spirituality
). The aim should be to pursue
"a new lifestyle”. He points out the power consumers have through their choices in
"changing the way businesses operate, forcing them to consider their environmental
footprint and their patterns of production".
4 http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco 20150524 enciclica-laudato-
si html. Detailed summary available from the Vatican Information Service:
5582b6e1d60b&dl t=text/xml&dl a=y&ul=1&ev=1.
Towards the SDGs
The Encyclical can also claim to have left its mark on the SDG negotiations. The first draft of
the post-2015 outcome document was released on 2 June. The Commission’s assessment of
this was that the environmental dimension was very weak. At the first discussion of this draft
(22 June), the co-facilitators of the negotiations referenced the Encyclical in their opening
statement. In subsequent drafts the environmental dimension was much improved.
The final outcome document “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development” was informally agreed by UN Member States on 2 August and will be adopted
by Heads of State at a Summit 25-27 September. This is the product of over two years of
informal negotiations and contains 17 goals and 169 targets to tackle poverty and put the
world on a path to sustainable development. The final goals are:
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning
opportunities for all
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive
employment and decent work for all
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably
manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide
access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for
* Acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the
primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate
The Holy See and CITES and the CBD
The Holy See is not a Party to CITES. This has raised criticisms from some media that the
Vatican does not have the adequate tools to deal with trade in religious items made of ivory
products and make sure that they are not of illegal origin. In view of the current surge in
wildlife trafficking and in line with the support shown in the Encyclical for CITES, the
accession of the Holy See to CITES would be an important symbolic gesture and the best
way to dispel any doubts on the role of the Vatican with illegal ivory trade.
Concerning the CBD, there are only two countries missing, the Holy See and the USA, to
make it the first 'universal' convention.
CV OF POPE FRANCIS
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires on 17 December
1936, the son of Italian immigrants. He graduated as a chemical
technician and then chose the path of the priesthood, He was ordained
for the Jesuits on 13 December 1969 during his theological studies at
the Theological Faculty of San Miguel. He was novice master in San
Miguel, where he also taught theology. He was Provincial for Argentina
(1973-1979) and rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of
San Miguel (1980-1986). After completing his doctoral dissertation in
Germany, he served as a confessor and spiritual director in Córdoba.
On 20 May 1992 he was appointed titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary
of Buenos Aires, receiving episcopal consecration on 27 June. On 3
June 1997 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires and succeeded Cardinal
Antonio Quarracino on 28 February 1998. He is also Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in
Argentina who lack an Ordinary of their own rite. Three years later at the Consistory of 21
February 2001, John Paul II created him Cardinal, assigning him the title of San Roberto
Bellarmino. He served as President of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina from 8
November 2005 until 8 November 2011.
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires — a diocese with more than three million inhabitants — he
conceived of a missionary project based on communion and evangelization. He had four
main goals: open and brotherly communities, an informed laity playing a lead role,
evangelization efforts addressed to every inhabitant of the city, and assistance to the poor
and the sick. In September 2009 he launched the solidarity campaign for the bicentenary of
the Independence of the country. Two hundred charitable agencies are to be set up by 2016.
He was elected Supreme Pontiff on 13 March 2013.
http://www.vatican.va/news services/press/documentazione/documents/cardinali biografie/c
ardinali bio bergoglio jm en.html