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.