In the garden of the international headquarters of the Focolare Movement in Rocca di Papa (Italy), Focolare President Maria Voce and Co-President Jesús Morán planted a tree (live Facebook of the event) in support of the international initiative #FridaysForFuture promoted by Greta Thunberg last March 15. Greta is a sixteen-year-old girl from Sweden who has recently become a symbol of environmental activism.

The world first began to notice Greta when she decided to go on strike, not attending school every Friday morning at the beginning of the Northern Hemisphere’s school year last September. Her strategy was to sit in front of the Stockholm Parliament with her home-made sign that said “School Strike for Climate.” She went there to protest against the failure of political leaders to take a position on what is happening to the environment.

Then in late January, in the town of Davos in Switzerland, Greta became the focus of the world’s media when she spoke in front of the world’s business leaders, statesmen, economists, celebrities and journalists at the World Economic Forum.

“You are destroying my future! … I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want to see you panic,” she told them.

The Teens for Unity of the Focolare Movement, together with the groups involved in Prophetic Economy, have decided to join the international initiative last March 15, 2019. Their goal is to demand that international conventions safeguarding the planet be respected, and that world leaders stop talking and start acting decisively.

“The positions taken by many politicians show that the top-down approach is
not enough,” explains Luca Fiorani, coordinator of EcoOne, the international Focolare network of those who work in the fields of ecology and sustainability.

The UN’s major international climate conferences demonstrate how difficult it is to make decisions together about how to combat global warming. So this is where the bottom-up approaches come into play – where the people put pressure on those in power to make effective decisions to tackle climate change.

These initiatives of young people are vitally important because they are the ones who will suffer the most from the effects of climate change in the future. That’s why it’s important that these young people act globally – so they can stir up the consciences of everyone around the world. If we don’t act now, within 20 or 30 years, it may be too late.

Pope Francis often reminds us of this. His 2019 message for Lent is focused on ecological conversion. He encourages us to pray, fast and give alms, but always with care for creation in mind.

So, too, the commitment of the Focolare children and youth to reach the “Zero Hunger” goal heads in the same direction as Greta Thunberg’s initiative.

Lorenzo Russo
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