Surprising suggestions on sustainable development by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the scientific academy of the Vatican established in 1936 by Pope Pius XI.
Pope Francis and the Academy’s strong embrace of solutions for sustainability and climate change issues are placed in the context of helping the poor:
The advances in measured productivity in all sectors – agriculture, industry and services – enable us to envision the end of poverty, the sharing of prosperity, and the further extensions of life spans. However, unfair social structures have become obstacles to an appropriate and sustainable organization of production and a fair distribution of its fruits, which are both necessary to achieve those goals.
The Academy - and the Pope - are using strong and critical language:
Humanity’s relationship with nature is riddled with unaccounted for consequences of the actions each of us take for both present and future generations.
Socio-environmental processes are not self-correcting. Market forces alone, bereft of ethics and collective action, cannot solve the intertwined crises of poverty, exclusion, and the environment. However, the failure of the market has been accompanied by the failure of institutions, which have not always aimed at the common good.
In early 2014, the Academy held a 4-day workshop on sustainable development. Attendees discussed past, present, and future development issues and proposed solutions that must:
…be taken in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of forthcoming development in the context of the ongoing cultural evolution of mankind.
They agreed to seven solutions, and apparently the Pope will challenge Catholics (and world leaders) to commit to implement them.
First…ameliorate the living conditions of poor populations, particularly in developing areas of our planet. [Produce more] (g)enetically modified (crops, such as), Golden Rice containing a precursor of vitamin A is an excellent example of the feasibility of this proposal and its beneficial effects.
Secondly, [address] anthropogenic climate change.
Thirdly, agricultural practices should be reconsidered, including those introduced by the green revolution, in order to minimise undesirable environmental impacts in the longer term.
Fourthly, [commit to] science-based policy assessment before the introduction of the proposed measure.
Fifthly, partnerships between scientists, enterprises and political leaders, rather than single individuals or enterprises, should be involved in the introduction of novel innovations.
Sixthly, special efforts should be made to rapidly integrate available scientific knowledge on the laws of nature relating to life functions, including life evolution, into everybody’s knowledge.
Finally, [address] increasing density of the human population. Appropriate goals should be set to reach quickly a more stable equilibrium that can persist without a negative impact on the highly appreciated biodiversity and diversity of habitats on our planet Earth, which has a constant size and a very long life expectancy.
From the Summary of the Joint PAS/PASS Workshop on Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility, here.