The “Year”, that kicked off on the 5th anniversary of the Encyclical, is promoted by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. It emphasizes the need for “ecological conversion in action” through a series of events and projects dedicated to environmental care, education, and the economy.
Journalist and rights activist, Don Mullan, the founder of Hope Initiatives International, an organization that promotes human legacy projects including the “Great Green Wall” and the “Laudato Tree” initiative, talked to Linda Bordoni about the project and Pope Francis’ unexpected embrace.
The “Laudato Tree” movement, Don Mullan explained, which is directly inspired by the Pope’s Encyclical on the care for our common home, is a young people’s movement led by 16-year-old Vivienne Harr, who is based in San Francisco but is working with young people across Africa in support of the Great Green Wall.
From Dakar to Djibouti, the “Great Green Wall” is a pan-African initiative that aims to reverse the effects of desertification caused by climate change in the 11 countries of the Sahel-Sahara Region.
Mullan said that the Pope’s support for the Laudato Tree initiative and challenge gave all those involved a huge boost.
“It was an extraordinary privilege,” he said, and “What was interesting is that Vivienne started out with the ambition of growing a million trees on the great green wall; so we smiled when Pope Francis added ‘at least a million trees’ and since then, particularly given the fact that we are in the context of a special anniversary year celebrating Laudato Sì, we decided the target would be 7 million trees.”