United World Project


The Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to Co-Sponsor the 2023 Run4Unity

4 April 2023   |   Internazionale, ,

Through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, the Vatican backs a global, youth-led sports and tree-planting event, led by the young people of the Focolare Movement and spanning time zones, countries and cultures to build peace and green the planet.

On May 7, more than 200,000 teens, young people and families in many countries and hundreds of cities will participate in the Run4Unity, a worldwide relay race uniting them across ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds to build peace and plant trees. Co-sponsored by the Laudato Si’ Action Platform of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and led by the youth of the Focolare Movement as part of their greater United World Week, the 2023 Run4Unity will focus on the theme

“People, Planet and Our Ecological Conversion”. Participants of all ages will care for their bodies through physical exercise and care for the Earth by having their kilometers ran or minutes of exercise exchanged for trees to be planted across the world.

“To ensure a healthy and livable future for our planet, we must all come together, across faith traditions, cultures, generations and sectors, and commit to concrete actions that safeguard the natural environment and care for the most vulnerable among us. Young people are leading the way through events like Run4Unity, and the Dicastery hopes many people will join their important mission,” says John Mundell, representative of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Director of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

How it works

The Run4Unity will kick off in the Fiji Islands—the first time zone to start a new day and an ecologically symbolic country already greatly impacted by climate change. From there, the youth will pass a virtual “baton” from one time zone to the next through a series of video conference calls over the next 24 hours, concluding with communities in California.

Participants will run, jog, walk, or participate in local sporting events, some held at venues symbolic of peace, at borders between countries or communities in conflict, or ecologically significant sites, to bear witness to unity and peace. Among participants will be some of the 1000 Laudato Si’ Schools worldwide, committed to ecological education through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, as well as groups and schools that are part of the Living Peace Project.

Anyone wanting to join the Run4Unity can register individually or as a group at www.teens4unity.org/run4unity. From there they will be directed to links where they can track kilometers run or minutes of exercise, register the number of trees planted by them or in collaboration with local and international sponsors and organizations, who will ensure long-term care for the trees. And all participants who register a local event will be invited to add it to a calendar on the United World Project website, where people can check it and join.

“Our dream is that Run4Unity 2023 creates a ripple of peace and climate solidarity across the globe! Strengthening bonds between communities in various countries can really open people to commit to peace and taking care of the planet,” said Federico Viara and Fiorella Tassini, coordinators for Teens4Unity’s international headquarters.

For further information, visit www.teens4unity.org/run4unity.

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is a department of the Vatican dedicated to promotion of the human person and the God-given dignity of all, together with human rights, health, justice and peace. It is principally concerned with matters relating to the economy and work, the care of creation and the

earth as our “common home”, migration and humanitarian emergencies. Learn more at: https://www.humandevelopment.va or by following on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is an initiative of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical letter, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. It is a

virtual platform and worldwide community taking action to care for the earth and the poor. Participants of all backgrounds, faiths and experience levels reflect on their lifestyles, evaluate opportunities for change, and set concrete action plans that help renew relationship with God, with others and with nature. Learn more at: www.laudatosiactionplatform.org or by following on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Teens4Unity is the youth branch of the Focolare Movement, and its members come from different cultures, religions, and ethnic backgrounds with a shared goal to live for a more united world by spreading peace, siblinghood, and the culture of giving wherever they interact in their daily lives. They promote a wide variety of local and international events, including the Run4Unity, which since 2005 has involved hundreds of thousands of people in 182 countries to celebrate the value of sports and exercise to build solidarity and peace. Learn more at: www.teens4unity.org or by following on Facebook or Instagram.

Replanting hope. In Italy, young Sicilians plant and distribute more than 500 trees as part of the ‘We Love Trees’ initiative, in response to the devastating fires that struck the island in 2022. Photo courtesy of Thalassia Giaccone.

Congo: Children from one of the hundred of Living Peace Project schools around the world join participate in the annual Run4Unity by hosting sporting events, public events with speakers from civil and religious authorities, and involve thousands of young people of all ages. Photo courtesy of Teens4Unity.

Mexicali-Calexico run united. In 2017, one Run4Unity event was held at the Mexico-USA border where youth on both sides ran along the wall and then joined together in a public square as a witness to peace and brotherhood. Photo courtesy of Teens4Unity.

Myanmar: Ecological cleanup and awareness action. Photo courtesy of Teens4Unity.

Guatemala: 180 young people, in agreement with the mayor, plant trees to prevent landslides in the soil. Photo courtesy of Teens4Unity.