On December 10-11, 2019, Kyiv hosted the first International Scientific and Practical Conference “Laudato Si: Environmental Contribution to Sustainable Development of Society" organized by the Bureau on Environmental Issues of the Patriarchal Curia of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
The conference was co-organized by the International Environmental Association "Responsibility for Creation", the National Environmental and Naturalistic Center of Student Youth of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, “Environment-People-Law” NGO ”and “Green Ark ” NGO.
The conference was held in partnership with the State Environmental Academy of Postgraduate Education and Management, the Aarhus Information and Educational Center of the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The conference was attended by more than one hundred participants from seven countries, including representatives of more than 10 institutions of higher education, representatives of churches and religious organizations, educational and environmental institutions, the Inter-Parish Environmental Network of the UGCC, the Commission of Education and Upbringing of the UGCC, civil society organizations and media.
The conference united the participants in the search for answers to today's environmental challenges in light of the first ever encyclical letter of Pope Francis “Laudato Si – Praise Be To You: On Care for Our Common Home”.
According to the agenda, more than 40 reports and speeches on the analysis of contemporary environmental challenges, including pollution, lack of access to clean drinking water, climate change, environmental impacts of the war in Eastern Ukraine, as well as environmental education and legal issues of conservation of the Creator's natural heritage and practical initiatives to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development of society were presented and discussed.
Within the framework of the conference, there were 5 plenary thematic meetings, 2 thematic exhibitions of drawings and posters and a festive academy for awarding the winners of the All-Ukrainian Environmental Competition “Responsibility for Creation”.
Particular attention was paid to environmental education and upbringing in schools and extra curricular institutions, higher education and pastoral activity of the Church. In particular, exemplary components of environmental education, upbringing and servicing for the preservation of God's creation - nature and sustainable development - were presented in the activities of the Bureau on Environmental Issues and the Inter-Parish Environmental Network of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Based on the results of the conference, the following decisions were approved:
To state that in order to overcome today's environmental challenges, the efforts of all participants in the public process should be combined with account taken of their competences; the Church of Christ plays an important role in fostering faith, spirituality and morality that are components of human ecology, which is crucial for the ecology of the environment, the sustainable development of society and the preservation of the natural heritage of the Creator.
To recognize the importance of integrated ecology, which is an essential element of environmental culture, based on Christian values and moral virtues, for the sustainable development of society and the preservation of natural heritage. We need to be aware of the multifaceted interrelationships between humans and the environment, and to seek to solve environmental problems holistically, shaping the ecology of the economy, society, culture and everyday life, as well as providing legal and legislative prerequisites for preserving and restoring our shared natural home.
To disseminate international experience of prayer in environmental intent within the framework of the World Day of Prayer for the Preservation of Creature, which is celebrated in Ukraine annually on September 14 starting from 2009 as the Day of God the Creator; World Time of Responsibility for Creature (September 14 – October 17); and a daily prayer for all living creatures first and foremost in the country where you live.
To encourage Christian churches to become involved in environmental education and upbringing, in particular in the process of catechism and pastoral ministry, and to incorporate theological environmental ethics and the foundations of a caring attitude to nature-creature into the curricula of theological seminaries and monastic educational institutions.
To engage the heritage of sacred and folk arts related to the ecology of spirituality and the environment in catechism, Christian education and upbringing.
To intensify the cooperation of ecclesiastical environmental institutions and higher, secondary and extra-curricular educational institutions in the field of environmental education, in particular in the process of professional training of teachers of natural sciences. To introduce joint publication of methodological manuals or content-friendly materials for environmental education and training, to organize thematic seminars and trainings.
To hold joint environmental activities involving schoolchildren and educators, Church representatives and local governments.
To recommend to publish the presented papers in the form of scientific articles in a separate collection of conference materials.
To bring the decision of the conference to the attention of the heads of Churches and religious organizations, the Office of the President, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Committee on Environmental Policy and Management of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Committee on Churches and Religions.
Chairman of the conference organizing committee,
Prof. Dr. Volodymyr Sheremeta,
Head of the UGCC Bureau on Environmental Issues
Kyiv, 11 December 2019