World Council of Churches welcomes UN Environment executive director

By agency reporter
April 13, 2018

Two Norwegian world leaders have met in Geneva to discuss environmental issues and open up for closer collaboration. Erik Solheim, UN Environment executive director and under-Secretary-General of the United Nations visited the World Council of Churches (WCC) in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland on 10 April, where he discussed with WCC General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, both the meaning and importance of working together on environmental issues to bring hope to the world.

As Tveit welcomed Solheim, he said: “Looking back at our past climate engagement, involved the churches in the care for the environment as a matter of our Christian faith, I can say we have taken many steps together, and it is clear that we strongly believe in efforts to stop climate change. And what is more, we believe strongly in the work for climate justice, and in shared responsibility in addressing these issues.”

In his opening remarks, Solheim said: “The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.”

He added: “If we all come together and work together, there is no limit to what we can achieve on planet Earth.”

Tveit reflected: “Sometimes we need to look not only to avoid what is damaging to our environment, but to also think actively and creatively on what the best solutions are, that we want to pursue.”

“We have also sometimes had a tendency to look at others as our opponents”, Tveit added. “Instead, I believe we should acknowledge those investors, businesses, individuals, youth movements and women’s movements, who have all worked for the same thing. There are many who want to contribute.”

“Perhaps our greatest task as people of faith is to say ‘we have the right to hope’”, Tveit concluded.

Solheim responded: “I am very satisfied to be present and learn more about the distinguished work of the World Council of Churches on bringing hope to the world, the longstanding work on climate, water, economy of life, peacebuilding and human rights. We seek to achieve the same humanitarian objectives within our organisations.”

Also participating in the meeting from UN Environment: Wondwosen (Wondy) Asnake Kibret, policy and partnerships coordinator, and Marte Sendstad, special assistant to the executive director; and from the WCC: Peter Prove, director of International Affairs, Athena Peralta, programme executive for Economy of Life, and Marianne Ejdersten, director of Communication.

*The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches https://www.oikoumene.org/en

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