VATICAN CITY — People must change their lifestyles and attitudes to help defeat hunger, Pope Francis said Thursday (June 11), a hint of what may be coming in his much-anticipated environmental encyclical next week.

“We must begin with our daily lives if we want to change lifestyles, aware that our small gestures can guarantee sustainability and the future of the human family,” said Francis, addressing delegates at a conference hosted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

“Let us modify our relationship with natural resources, land use, consumption, and eliminate waste. Thus shall we defeat hunger,” he added.

Francis also threw the Catholic Church’s full backing behind initiatives for the sustainable use of resources, stating that such work was important for agricultural development.

“The church is committed to promoting the change of attitude necessary for the good of future generations,” he said.

The pope’s speech comes a week before his encyclical on the environment is released. The document is expected to have a significant impact on the Catholic world and beyond in pushing religious people to make climate change a galvanizing concern.

In April, the Vatican organized a summit that brought together top scientists and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss climate change with Vatican officials.

Speaking at the event, Cardinal Peter Turkson urged Catholics to save the environment: “This is an all-embracing moral imperative: to protect and care for both creation, our garden home, and the human person who dwells herein — and to take action to achieve this.”

His comments followed a similar line in February by the pope, who said it was a Christian duty to protect the environment. “A Christian who does not protect creation, who does not let it grow, is a Christian who does not care about the work of God,” the pontiff said.

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