Planetary Boundaries and Disaster Risk Reduction with Fr. Pedro Walpole

The following is from a presentation by Fr. Pedro Walpole at the College of Micronesia-FSM on the 19 of February. The presentation was my own first personal contact with the social justice imperative of planetary boundaries. The presentation included the role of personal responsibility in caring for planet earth and was filled with challenging statements such as "global economic development" is not the same thing as "global human development" and at time the former worsens the state of the latter. The following images from the presentation are not mine, but rather Fr. Walpole's.

Fr. Pedro Walpole, S.J. is the Director for Research, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines , Environmental Science for Social Change Coordinator of Reconciliation with Creation for the Jesuit Conference Asia Pacific. He is also the Director of Research at the Institute of Environmental Science for Social Change in the Philippines and the Coordinator of Reconciliation with Creation for the Jesuit Conference Asia Pacific. He holds a doctorate in land use change from King’s College in London. He is a practitioner in sustainable environment and community land -management in Southeast Asia. His interests include seeking social justice through environmental management, poverty reduction in forest lands, partnerships for local development, and advancing social concerns in forest law enforcement and governance, climate justice, and indigenous peoples’ rights. -

He mentioned around this time that he would skip past the Sendai declaration, more information on the 2015 Sendai declaration can be found the link. Sendai is a global agreement and disaster reduction framework.

In this portion of his presentation, Fr. Walpole spoke about the personal responsibility. His words echo that of Pope Francis, "The great danger in today's world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor." When we say "I have enough" then we begin the journey to caring for the planet. When we crave the newest and latest tech or fashion, when we become feverish consumers, then we live unsustainably and without love for the poor.

He noted too that scientists too make choices with social impacts. Science takes funding, and funding is done by business, by corporate interests. Thus the search is for a cure for cancer, not the causes of cancer. There is more money in treatment than in prevention. Funding goes to study cures, not find causes. Scientists too make moral choices that impact the poor. Tough love indeed for the scientist who feels their work is untainted by such concerns.


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