FI Attends International OFM Conference on the Amazons
In the Amazons, individuals and organisations are seeking economic gain at all costs—human and environmental—with no regard for the region’s biological and human diversity and climate change. FI staff recently attended a Franciscan conference in Quito, Ecuador to help address this prevailing tendency.
The Franciscan Family in the Americas has prioritised the preservation and protection of the Amazons rainforest and region in its JPIC work. Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela all include portions of the Amazons in their national territory and are suffering the consequences from its destruction. Other Latin American countries as well as the rest of the continent and world are also being negatively affected.
From 1-7 November 2011, over 80 participants attended the Third Continental JPIC Meeting of the Americas, entitled: “Environmental Justice and the Challenge of the Amazon.” The focus was the launch of the OFM “Amazon project.”
The week-long conference included presentations, workshops, and discussions for the Franciscan representatives from the OFM JPIC International Committee, Canada, North America and South America, and other interested stakeholders. Fr. Mike Lasky OFM Conv., FI Regional Director for the Americas Program presented an overview of FI and its work for the poor and the environment.
Franciscans and other religious also shared their experiences of living among different groups of Amazon peoples. Their testimonies gave insight into the many challenges facing the Amazons, such as the invasion of extractive industries, climate change, and conflict. All impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities.
The second half of the conference was dedicated to climate change and how the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is having a negative impact on the continent and world. It also addressed Franciscan spirituality and engagement with the Amazons peoples and environment.
“The week of study, reflection, and sharing enabled participants to see that the Amazons is a place in desperate need of Franciscan ministry and solidarity,” reported Amanda Lyons, FI Advocacy Officer for the Americas. “It was also clear that there is much to learn from the wisdom of the Amazons people, particularly their traditional respect for and experience in caring for creation. For FI, the conference was a strong call to continue to work for Franciscan values of justice, peace, and integrity of creation.”