A mayor has said a global movement is needed to tackle the issues of climate change and modern slavery, and that the person to spearhead it is Pope Francis.

In an exclusive interview with ZENIT today in the Vatican, Tony Chammany, mayor of Kochi, India, made this point.

During the course of the day, at least 65 mayors from around the world have gathered in the Vatican's New Synod Hall for the two-day workshop 'Modern Slavery and Climate Change: the Commitment of the Cities,' sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The workshop began today and ends tomorrow.

Speaking to ZENIT, Mayor Chammany reflected on why he thinks Pope Francis is the person to take on these issues, how the encyclical Laudato Si', released last month, has been received in his country, and how--as a mayor-- he feels thankful to Pope Francis.

In addition, the politician shared on how the Catholic Church and this Pope can make great strides in confronting these global problems.

When asked his thoughts about Pope Francis, Mayor Chammany said how he and his people are very impressed by Francis' new Encyclical, "especially how it covers two major issues the present global community faces: climate change and modern slavery."

"There should be a global movement to tackle this issue. The actor, the person to do this, is Pope Francis," he said.

"The upcoming Paris conference that confronts these topics," he noted, "will be influenced by this movement and by this particular conference. The so-called SDGs, the Sustainable Government Goals, to be formulated in the Paris Conference, will be affected by Pope Francis and this conference."

Asked his view on whether Pope Francis is the person to be approaching this issue and bringing this message forward to the world, the mayor answered in the affirmative.

"The largest social movement is the Catholic Church," he explained. "So if the head of the Catholic Church says something, the world will hear. And personally, Pope Francis is so popular. So, personally and institutional-wise, the Catholic Church and the Pope have the command to make the global community aware of any scenario. So the fact that the Pope is taking up these two issues as core issues to make the global community aware is significant. I believe there will be an effect."

When asked about the situation of Christians, particularly Catholics, in India in the moment, he noted, "The Catholic Church in India is very organized. They have a good group of believers. They are all God-fearing. So if the Catholic Church is hoping to have a movement in these two social issues, the Catholic Church in India will take up this issue and there will be impact in the disciples, I do believe."

Zenit also asked how he and the other mayors present feel about the Holy Father coming to visit and speak to them this evening.

"Personally, as a mayor," he said, "I am thankful to Pope Francis for inviting mayors to this conference. I came to learn that it is the first time the Vatican is conducting a conference calling together mayors. So this conference makes us more responsible on how to act to tackle this issue."

"We are eagerly waiting for Pope Francis’ words, what he is going to deliver. We are really blessed, and really feel proud … We feel we have more of a responsibility to deliver. So this conference makes us more responsible on how to act to tackle this issue." 

"We take this responsibility seriously," Mayor Chammany concluded.