U.S., Mexico pledge billions to reduce migration from Central America [Washington Post]

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard presents an investment plan between Mexico and the United States in Mexico City on Tuesday. (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard presents an investment plan between Mexico and the United States in Mexico City on Tuesday. (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY — The United States and Mexico announced Tuesday a bilateral assistance program to curb migration from Central America, signaling an early vote of confidence from the Trump administration in the foreign policy of new Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The United States announced a total contribution of $10.6 billion, most of which will be allocated from existing aid programs. Around $4.5 billion of that sum comes from new loans, loan guarantees and other private-sector support that could become available through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The announcement appeared to be largely a symbolic gesture of cooperation between the two governments.

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How the Vatican is supporting businesses which help refugees [The Economist]

His Eminence Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, Prefect of the Holy See  Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development,  at The Laudato si Challenge final event in Vatican City.

His Eminence Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, Prefect of the Holy See Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, at The Laudato si Challenge final event in Vatican City.

THE PAPAL encyclical on the environment, entitled “Laudato Si” and published in 2015, has been one of the most influential contributions to the debate about climate change and its connection with other woes like inequality and forced migration. Citing ideas first developed by the Orthodox church, it makes the theological case that the planet’s degradation is a spiritual problem, not a technocratic one. But it has limitations: one would scour its pages in vain to find any acknowledgment that private initiative, or even problem-solving human ingenuity, could ease the travails of the Earth. Where it mentions private enterprise, it is mostly in a negative context.

The Laudato Si Challenge describes itself as an initiative inspired by the papal pronouncement. But it might be truer to say that, in a small way, it counter-balances or fills in some of that fine document’s lacunas. Based in the United States, it aims to provide expertise to small businesses that offer solutions to the problems created by climate change and forced migration.

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Laudato si' Challenge seeks ideas to help 10 million refugees [Rome Reports]

One of the most interesting outcomes of the pope's encyclical “Laudato si'” is the “Laudato si' Challenge.” Every year it launches a challenge and financial plans to improve the world. 

Its founder explains that last year he searched and found original ideas to battle climate change. This year they focused on forced displacement. They have set out to help at least 10 million refugees in a sustainable and ethical way. 

ERIC HARR 
CEO of Laudato si' Challenge 
“His Holiness Pope Francis talks about 'our common home.' We are seeking to sustainably improve the lives of 10 million people who have been excluded from 'our common home.'” 

U.N. Global Compact Recognizes Climate-Driven Migration for First Time

Somali refugees displaced by floods cross a swollen river in Dadaab, Garissa district in Kenya’s arid northeastern province 22, November 2006.

Somali refugees displaced by floods cross a swollen river in Dadaab, Garissa district in Kenya’s arid northeastern province 22, November 2006.

More than 160 nations agreed on the United Nations' Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration at a meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The accord and its 23 objectives call for nations to voluntarily "provide basic services for migrants, whether they enter a country legally or illegally," "facilitate access to procedures for family reunification for migrants at all skill levels" and "establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements."

In 2017, the United States pulled out of the non-binding accord that began collecting signatures in 2016. Australia and several EU countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia also dropped out of the accord. 

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Cardinal Parolin: With migration, cooperation is better than isolationism

A Venezuelan migrant brushes his teeth outside his tent at a makeshift camp Nov. 26 in Bogota, Colombia. [Photo: NS photo/Luisa Gonzalez, Reuters]

A Venezuelan migrant brushes his teeth outside his tent at a makeshift camp Nov. 26 in Bogota, Colombia. [Photo: NS photo/Luisa Gonzalez, Reuters]

The Vatican praised the adoption by more than 160 nations of a key agreement on global migration, saying today's migration challenges are better tackled together than with "isolationist" stances.

The UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration "includes a comprehensive framework of best practices and policy instruments to increase international cooperation and sharing of responsibility in the governance of migration," Cardinal Pietro Parolin, head of the Vatican delegation, told government leaders.

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Documentary 'Soufra' Screened At The Vatican With Thomas Morgan, Mariam Shaar And Susan Sarandon In Final Days Of The 2018 Laudato si' Challenge

(Courtesy of Soufra Film, L to R: Eric Harr, Susan Sarandon, Mariam Shaar, Thomas Morgan)

(Courtesy of Soufra Film, L to R: Eric Harr, Susan Sarandon, Mariam Shaar, Thomas Morgan)

Soufra, an inspirational documentary about social entrepreneur Mariam Shaar, who overcame the limitations imposed from a life in an impoverished refugee camp to successfully launch a thriving catering company, screened at the Pontifical Orientale Institute at The Vatican on December 5th. The film, directed by Thomas Morgan and executive produced by Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon, showed during the final part of the 2018 Laudato si' Challenge and was joined by Morgan, Sarandon and the film's subject Mariam Shaar, who opened the summit. The three-day challenge in Vatican City and Rome welcomed leaders from all sectors (public, private and faith) to come together and seek a way to sustainably improve the lives of 10 million people who have been forced out of their homes.

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How Climate Change Is Driving Central American Migrants to the United States

The migrant caravan in Mexico.  ALEXEI WOOD

The migrant caravan in Mexico.  ALEXEI WOOD

In the poor, violent Northern Triangle of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, worsening floods, drought and storms are pushing a growing number of migrants north.

Thousands of Central American migrants arrive at the border each month, fleeing both grinding poverty and unchecked gang violence. Increasingly, they’re also escaping a threat they might never mention to immigration agents: climate change. A narrow strip of land flanked by oceans, Central America is one of the world’s most environmentally vulnerable regions. “It’s an area hit by hurricanes on both sides, rocked by volcanic eruptions, drought, earthquakes, and with accelerating climate change, it’s even more vulnerable,” said María Cristina García, a Cornell University professor of American studies who’s writing a book about climate refugees.

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World Bank Group Announces $200 billion over Five Years for Climate Action

The World Bank Group today announced a major new set of climate targets for 2021-2025, doubling its current 5-year investments to around $200 billion in support for countries to take ambitious climate action. The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, recognizing mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries. The plan also represents significantly ramped up ambition from the World Bank Group, sending an important signal to the wider global community to do the same. 

“Climate change is an existential threat to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. These new targets demonstrate how seriously we are taking this issue, investing and mobilizing $200 billion over five years to combat climate change,” World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim said. “We are pushing ourselves to do more and to go faster on climate and we call on the global community to do the same. This is about putting countries and communities in charge of building a safer, more climate-resilient future.”

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