State, church leadership at Environment Day event for cleaning up Asopos River

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Tuesday signalled their support for protecting the environment, attending an event on cleaning up the Asopos River held under the aegis of President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos in Schimatari, Viotia.

Addressing the event, Pavlopoulos said that the world was currently at “an exceptionally crucial time for the environment, on a planetary level.” He also highlighted the role of the Church in promoting environmental protection, noting that this had now become an existential issue for all humanity after the “heavy insults sustained as a result of provocative human indifference and anarchic global development.”

Held to mark World Environment Day, the main message of the event “Asopos: from idea to action” was that there must be united action by the state, local government and citizens to keep the Asopos River clean.

“All peoples of the planet must realise that we have a duty to tackle the dramatic repercussions of climate change while there is still time. It is exceptionally bad that major economic – and not just economic – powers and ones that through their policies bear a great share of the blame for causing climate change and the ensuing degradation of the environment, are refusing to assume their responsibilities and going back on the fulfilment of things recently agreed on worldwide,” he said.

Pavlopoulos welcomed the EU’s continued commitment to the fight against climate change and noted that Greece, as an inseparable part of the EU, is fully aligned with this effort.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke about man’s close and inseparable ties to nature, noting that both are the works of God and that all parts of nature are interlinked and interdependent. The crisis of the Asopos River was an illustration of this, he added, and proved the value of scientific research.
“The Asopos is a microcosm of the world ecological crisis,” he said and urged both state and citizens to “stand on the front line as guardians of the environment. A clean Asopos means a clean world.”

Other speakers at the event were Alternate Environment and Energy Sokratis Famellos, Alternate Economy and Development Minister Alexis Charitsis and Central Greece Regional Authority chief Costas Bakoyannis.