Home Commentary Networking and accompanying broader collaboration in the universal mission

Networking and accompanying broader collaboration in the universal mission

Networking is a meaningful exchange for the good of the mission. This affirmation of a greater universal vision is collaborative and collective rather than institutionally authoritative and seeks the shared commitment of others.

Networking also needs a broad base of shared local contexts and actions to understand the complementary realities of the poor and youth in responding to the Universal Apostolic Preferences. There is a valued collaboration engendered in sharing a universal sense of mission and keeps the spirit of synodality alive.

Ecojesuit, as the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN) on ecology, continues to engage the six Jesuit Conferences, institutions, universities, and network partners in exploring collaboration potentials through a bottom-up approach. Each year opens with Conference-level discussions across the region on emerging activities that people are engaged with and can shape a broader shared agenda.

In all the conversations with the Conferences, there is a keenness to move beyond goodwill towards concerted action. Many are engaging with social action centers nationally so that advocacy engagements are grounded. There is a growing recognition on the important role of social and education cross-apostolate collaboration in the ecological mission.

In each of the conversations with the Conferences, Ecojesuit engages the appointed ecology coordinator and extends the invitation to partners from social action centers, other networks, and universities to broaden the understanding of the ecological work being done and to discover the interconnections.

This approach aligns with how Jesuit networking is defined in the GIAN governance document (Section 2.1.1) released in 2022. It is “a way of proceeding apostolically that enables better global and regional cooperation at the service of the universal mission, raising the apostolic structures to a new level with global (or regional) impact, and therefore connecting persons and institutions in such a way that they act as a global and interdisciplinary body, in collaboration with others.”

Ecojesuit’s Conference-level conversations as part of Jesuit networking

- Newsletter -

Ecojesuit opened the year with a series of Conference-level conversations that are opportunities to listen to Conference plans and activities for the year. Emerging from the conversations is a genuine willingness to respond to the challenge of moving beyond goodwill to shared action, especially in the care for the common home which is one of the four Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs).

The first round of Ecojesuit conversations this year has three objectives:

  1. To listen to Conference-level actions and priorities and emerging concerns and realities that need to be raised in global platforms
  2. To understand how food and water justice (agroecology) engagements are animated within the region
  3. To explore coherent strategies that enable a coordinated communications strategy for effective communication of stories.

It is an enriching experience to listen to the diversity of stories and contexts of the four Conferences. Committed partners from social action centers and education ministries joined and shared their activities that deepened the Conference’s ecological mission.

The Conference of Jesuit Provincials of Latin America and the Caribbean (Conferencia de Provinciales en América Latina y el Caribe or CPAL) is sustaining its focus on strengthening the voices of Indigenous Peoples through its networks and social ministries, with the Integral Ecology Reference Group (Grupo de Referentes de Ecología de la CPAL) leading the coordination. Food and water justice is affirmed as a critical concern that connects across CPAL’s ministries. Sharing of stories and experiences to the global is a committed action point.

CPAL is building its engagement for the global climate conference (UNFCCC’s 30th Conference of the Parties or COP30) set to be held in Brazil on 10 to 21 November 2025. By then, countries will have accomplished a new round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This is a key opportunity for CPAL to collectively engage and lobby for Indigenous Peoples’ rights as a collective with civil society. The GIAN-Justice in Mining is also gearing up its engagement for COP30, highlighting the integrated concerns of extractive impacts and climate justice.

In the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (JCSA), engagements on ecology are animated through zonal networking efforts. In JCSA’s conversation with Ecojesuit, leaders of the four zones shared ongoing activities, most of which include working with schools and universities on agroforestry, organic farming, and eco-awareness campaigns. There are also activities on strengthening advocacy actions and lobbying at the policy level with civil society, especially on the fossil fuel phaseout movement.

As the zones prepare for their in-person meetings in April, four action points are identified that JCSA commits to take forward: 1) nurture social and education cross-apostolate collaboration on ecology, 2) network with non-government organizations and civil society, 3) strengthen linkages with corporations by tapping into their CSR mandate, and 4) enhance communication strategies to increase visibility of the ecology actions of the Conference and zonal networks in JCSA and in the global.

The Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) is sustaining the momentum built on climate justice advocacy engagements at the UNFCCC COP level where social action centers actively participate. Loss and damage and food sovereignty are areas of focus for JCAM and communicating related stories need to go beyond the exchange of information to help move policy change.

JCAM is hosting the Ecojesuit Meeting 2024 in July at the Kasisi Agricultural Training Center (KATC) in Lusaka, Zambia. The forthcoming gathering seeks to build from the lessons learned and actions committed during the Ecojesuit Meeting 2023. Hosting the meeting in KATC is expected to deepen awareness on food and water justice concerns locally, while highlighting the realities of the broader region. JCAM and Ecojesuit are working alongside each other in planning for the Ecojesuit meeting.

Ecojesuit Meeting 2023: Commitment, Communication, and Collaboration

Engaging with community voices on care for the ocean and land is a continued effort of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP). Many of its social ministries are actively engaged in local community contexts, mainly on Indigenous Peoples’ concerns, synodality, youth accompaniment, and the divestment efforts of the Australian Province.

JCAP echoed the importance of developing a more active engagement and voice in COP meetings, and the momentum built during COP28 needs to be sustained. COP31 in 2026 will possibly be held in Australia, which marks 10 years since the 2015 Paris Agreement was ratified. With Heads of State most likely signing another legally-binding international treaty, this provides an important opportunity for Pacific Island Nations to be at the forefront of climate justice actions.

Emerging learnings on networking governance mechanisms

Networking is the structural possibility for collaborating and is not simply about a of organizations and institutions working on a specific project. What is also becoming clear is that governance structure mechanisms are now more defined. Section 4.3.2 of the GIAN governance document invites Conferences to appoint an ecology coordinator tasked in building an ecology team from various apostolic sectors, with involvement from the Conference social delegate.

While this provides structure and coherence, the appointment process tends to limit collaboration. Challenges arise with frequent Conference reappointments, yet this enables new perspectives and energies that further enrich the exchange.

Ecojesuit engages committed partners from organizations and institutions that share the mission such as Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Christian Life Community (CVX-CLC), Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL), the Task Force on Environmental and Economic Justice of the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU), and the Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité or CIDSE, among others. In connecting with civil society and advocacy groups, collaboration is broadened beyond appointment mechanisms and enables cross-apostolate linkages.

There is a genuine commitment to sustain faith-based engagements in international discussions, particularly in the UNFCCC COP and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The process of putting together statements for COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 and for COP28 in Dubai in 2023 brought deeper awareness on the complexities of the COP process and its significance as a space for the Global South to call for transparency and accountability from the Global North.

In the De Statu Societatis (DSS) or The State of the Society, Father General Arturo Sosa SJ invites the Society of Jesus to reflect on the critical question: To what extent is it possible to identify with the poor and oppressed in their struggle for justice, which inevitably involves political structures? (DSS, p77)

2024 started with much uncertainty as mounting ecological degradation and social vulnerability are intensified by local and global conflicts. It is thus important to discern how a sense of vision can be enabled while communicating the hope that is needed, especially to the youth.

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