With an estimated 850 million people suffering from hunger worldwide, nine out of ten of whom live in developing countries, "the scandal of hunger demands the immediate attention of the churches", affirmed a statement yesterday from World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia.
As "food security for all [is] among the greatest challenges facing humanity", Dr Kobia wrote, the WCC, "deeply concerned and outraged by this untenable situation", calls on the churches "to formulate and implement programmes that seek to deal with hunger and its structural causes". Among other initiatives, churches "are called to advocate against the production of agro-fuels at the expense of food production and the environment".
Kobia applauded the determination shown by world leaders at the High-Level Conference on World Food Security held in Rome, 3-5 June 2008, "in tackling the impact of climate change on food production and bio-energy, and confronting the challenges this situation poses to the achievement of global food security". In commending the initiative, he expressed hope that world leaders "may demonstrate their commitment to act against hunger and poverty and that this will lead to timely action".
According to the WCC statement, the global food crisis has its "primary cause" in "inappropriate human actions, which have induced climate change and skyrocketing food prices". As the behaviours that have created poverty, hunger and climate change are "driven by greed", Kobia affirmed, "humanity must be challenged to overcome its greed".
This entails challenging the "prevailing development paradigm", which pushes the market as the main mechanism "to take care of food production and distribution", being as it is the very same mechanism "responsible for providing incentives to avaricious business entities, which speculate on commodity (including food) and oil prices".
Kobia announced that the WCC executive committee will address the food crisis at its next meeting in September 2008. If churches are to fulfill in an effective way their "essential role" in this regard, they "must face the global food crisis together", he declared.
The full text of the WCC general secretary's statement, "Food and faith", is here: http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?id=5994