Christians back World People's Conference on Climate Change

By agency reporter
April 22, 2010

In an ecumenical declaration to be presented at the final session of the World People's Conference on Climate Change, Christian organisations and individuals emphasise the positive role that religions and spirituality can play for a more harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature.

The 19-22 April 2010 conference in Cochabamba is hosted by the Bolivian president, Evo Morales. Over 10,000 people are attending, according to media reports, many of them from indigenous peoples and environmentalist networks.

The closing session is being held on 'International Mother Earth Day', 22 April. This yearly event was introduced by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009, adopting a Bolivian-led resolution.

"Climate change is the product of a human mentality which regards nature as an object of domination, exploitation and manipulation and the human being as its owner and the measure of all things," the ecumenical declaration states.

Its signatories "recognise that a certain interpretation of the Judeo-Christian tradition has contributed to fostering this kind of anthropocentrism and merciless exploitation of nature, misinterpreting the responsibility of being a 'caretaker' and advocate for the creation, entrusted to humanity by the creator."

The declaration goes on to call for a new spirituality of respectful co-existence, to be forged in a dialogue among the peoples of the earth. It is part of the contribution a coalition of Christian organisations brought to the conference.

The coalition also organised panels on religions - especially Christianity - and climate change and the presentation of recent publications on the topic. It includes the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its Bolivian member churches as well as the Latin American Council of Churches (CMI), and is coordinated by the Andean Ecumenical Higher Institute of Theology (ISEAT).

"The People's Conference was an opportunity to listen to those who will be most affected by climate change," said Dr Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on climate change.

He added: "The WCC sees it as an instrument to build a global consensus on climate change and put forward the perspective of actors who have not been heard enough in the United Nations negotiation process – such as the indigenous peoples."


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