Pope Francis is set to meet 50 mayors and governors from all around the globe to discuss climate change.
The talks will emphasize developing policies to combat greenhouse gas emissions, improving community responses to the effects of climate change, and battling poverty.
The series of discussions proves the pontiff is serious in encouraging world leaders to take action primarily on climate change, one of the most pressing issues of our time.
The meeting, which was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, will be held on July 21 and 22. The first day of meetings will revolve around the theme "Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of The Cities" and the second day will focus on "Prosperity, People and Planet: Achieving Sustainable Development in Our Cities."
Prominent political figures who are expected to attend the meetings include New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes and San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee.
The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group will also be participating as 23 out of its 75 members are expected to come to the Vatican. C40 is an organization established by a group of mayors who are strongly committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing community members' response and survival against the effects of climate change.
"I'm very impressed with Pope Francis and where he's taking the church—I see the hand of Jesuit training and inspiration in what he's doing," said California Governor Jerry Brown. "The Pope is engaging in moral authority and calling people to reflect on the basis of those considerations."
Just like Pope Francis, Brown also hails from the Jesuit congregation, where he trained as a priest before realizing that he was meant for the world of politics.
On June 18, Pope Francis released Laudito Si', a 184-page Catholic document about climate change. The encyclical called for science and religion to come together to battle climate change.
Although the active participation of the pontiff is well appreciated by many, it has also drawn criticism, even from inside the Vatican.
Cardinal George Pell, who is skeptical of climate change, believes that religion should not meddle with science.
"The church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters," he told the Financial Times. "We believe in the autonomy of science."
Meanwhile, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Vatican host of the discussions, hopes that the leaders will fully commit to decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in the cities they govern, strengthening their people—especially those in vulnerable conditions—decreasing the people's exposure to the consequences of climate change, and halting human trafficking and preventing hazardous forced migration.
Listening to the best practices that the mayors have come up with in the battle against climate change and human trafficking is something to look forward to, he believes.