WSCF Executive Committee
Signed in Beirut, Lebanon in November 2010
We, the participants at the WSCF Inter-regional Leadership Training Program on Climate and Eco-justice met in Beirut, Lebanon in conjunction with the Executive Committee Meeting, from October 28 to November 6, 2010. The objective of the Training Conference was to engage the Federation’s leadership to reflect on issues of Climate and eco-justice, the WSCF’s theme for 2010. The conference started with the Universal Day of Prayer for Students, followed by regional presentations about the activities that have taken place in the six regions of the Federation. The sharing of these experiences was the starting point of the work of the conference.
Because of its vocational concern towards the world and for the well-being of humankind, the Federation is called to address the emergence of climate change and the consequent environmental instability. Both causes and effects of this phenomenon are strictly linked to human activities: it is human beings that carry out the exploitation of the environment, and it is human communities that are affected by this catastrophic impact. This situation also highlights a disparity between human beings: it is mostly marginalized and poor people who are the victims of the injustices brought about by an economy based on the idolatry of the market and on an unsustainable development paradigm. This raises issues of global justice.
Having identified the causes of Climate Change in the exploitation of the environment, it is necessary to widen the perspective of our reflection to include a more comprehensive analysis of Ecological Justice, by pointing out the impact that such phenomenon has on humankind in all its aspects. The change of the environment where communities live often forces them to move out their local context in order to survive. Moreover, these changes cause greater and greater areas to loose sustainable living conditions and jeopardize the access of entire communities to water, food and health. Often, people have to leave their homes to escape conflicts triggered by either the control of natural resources by multinational corporations (such as land, water, minerals, etc) or by the scarcity of such resources. Indigenous communities are often pushed to leave their lands by acts of violence so that transnational companies can exploit forests, rivers, seas and land, for mining or extensive agriculture.
The exploitation of the environment as a means to supply the consumerist economic system and way of life is the expression of the idolatry for profit, which becomes the ruling element of life on Earth. The presumption of technocratic omnipotence has led human beings to reduce the world—God’s creation, in Christian perspective—to mere material to be consumed without care for people’s sufferings. This omnipotence reveals itself as pure illusion when faced with the power of (un)natural calamities (floods, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions) or of the catastrophes it triggered.
Scriptures witness to a God who observes the misery and hears the cry of God’s people (Ex. 3), claims for justice and opens new skies and Earth for humankind. We, as Christians, have to participate in the struggle of those who are suffering under oppression and help develop tools of pastoral care towards the survivors of such tragedies. In order to let the Earth be a place for life, a change in our world’s political and economic paradigm is needed: we are called to a conversion. A different narrative of life on Earth is needed. It may enable us to recover the sense of such narrative, which has been erased by a consumerist ideology. The ecumenical and inter-religious challenge is to find in our faiths and traditions the meaningful narration of solidarity among human beings and between human beings and the environment, to reintegrate and regenerate communities that have been uprooted and individuals who have been broken, and finally to reconcile communities with the Earth they inhabit.
The exploitation of the environment as a means to supply the consumerist economic system and way of life is the expression of the idolatry for profit.
We invite Regions and SCMs to participate in the ongoing commitment of the Federation to these issues by raising students’ awareness, deepening theological reflection, and acting through advocacy on behalf of marginalized and oppressed communities affected by climate change and ecological destruction. This conference marks the beginning of a global strategy on eco-justice for the Federation and of a reflection on how to carry our activities in light of this commitment.
The Federation takes the commitment in this reflection, working to develop it and providing students with tools and spaces to take part in it.
May God sustain our efforts with the promise God made to Noah and signed by the Rainbow in the sky, that God will not allow the life on Earth to be destroyed, not even by human greed.