International summit on climate change to bring California, New York governors to the Vatican

shutterstock 1124432339 Govenor Gavin Newsom of California. | Credit: Karl_Sonnenberg/Shutterstock

The Vatican’s latest bid to tackle climate change will bring together politicians and researchers from around the world for a three-day conference next week featuring a series of roundtable discussions and culminating in the signing of a new international protocol that will be submitted to the United Nations.

The joint summit, “From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience,” will be held at the Vatican from May 15–17 at the Casina Pio IV, the seat of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, which sits in the Vatican Gardens.

The conference — organized by the two pontifical academies — brings together policymakers, civic leaders, researchers, and lawmakers from the United States and other countries, including Italy, Kenya, and Sweden.

This year’s U.S. invitees include Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul as well as Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

“Massachusetts deeply values our close relationship with Italy and the Vatican City State, and we see this trip as an excellent opportunity to strengthen ties and strategize on future opportunities for collaboration,” Healey said in an official press release from the Massachusetts governor’s office.

Healey will deliver a keynote address titled “Governing in the Age of Climate Change” on the first day of the summit, while Newsom and Hochul will both deliver addresses on the second day. 

“This year holds unprecedented significance for democracy and the climate, two intertwined issues which will define our future,” Newsom said last month. 

“With half the world’s population poised to elect their leaders amidst a backdrop of escalating political extremism, and global temperatures hurtling towards alarming new heights, the stakes could not be higher,” the California governor said. 

“There is no greater authority than moral authority — and the pope’s leadership on the climate crisis inspires us all to push further and faster.”

Pope Francis has made environmental protection and social stewardship one of the defining themes of his pontificate, dedicating two encyclicals to the moral imperative of combatting anthropogenic climate change.

The conference will also include mayors from some of Europe’s largest cities, including the mayors of Rome, Paris, and London, as well lawmakers from Asia and Africa, researchers and academics from the world’s leading universities, and representatives from international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization. 

The summit participants will be received in an audience with Pope Francis on Thursday, May 16. 

Each day of the summit is centered on a different conceptual framework and is organized by a series of different panels and roundtable discussions. 

The summit’s program explains that participants will discuss and deliberate policy recommendations geared toward “climate resilience” by utilizing a three-pronged strategy, which includes “mitigation efforts,” “adaptation strategies,” and “societal transformation.” 

“Climate resilience requires cross-disciplinary partnerships among researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs and trans-disciplinary partnerships between science and community leaders, including faith leaders, NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], and the public. Mayors and governors form the core of such transdisciplinary partnerships,” the official program of the summit states. 

The program notes that one of the main outcomes of the summit will be the drafting of a “Planetary Climate Resilience” protocol in which all participants will be “cosignatories.” 

The protocol will be “fashioned along the lines of the Montreal Protocol” and will “provide the guidelines for making everyone climate resilient,” the program states. 

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Afterward the document will be “submitted to the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] to take it forward to all nations.”

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