“It is not possible to talk about a new financial architecture without linking it to the pain and struggles of the people,” said Rev. Dr Collin I. Cowan at an ecumenical conference on a new financial and economic architecture, currently underway in Brazil.
“We are here to learn from one another. I hope our dialogue can lead to an outcome that can make a difference to the global context of economic injustice,” he added.
Cowan, General Secretary for the Council for World Mission (CWM), was speaking at an ecumenical conference held from 29 September to 5 October in Guarulhos, Brazil. The conference is organised by the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) along with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the CWM.
As Cowan preached at the opening prayer service of the event, he mentioned the Accra Confession, a document adopted in 2004 by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (a predecessor of the WCRC). The document is based on theological convictions related to economic and ecological injustices in the global economy.
Affirming Cowan’s reflections, Rev. Dr Setri Nyomi, General secretary of the WCRC, said, “The time has come to do more than what has been done so far.” Nyomi was referring to the advocacy agenda on economic justice promoted by the churches.
The conference is making proposals for a new international financial and economic architecture. It aims to set criteria and a framework for action that promotes ecological justice and ways of overcoming greed, serving the real economy with an emphasis on people and the earth.
The participants are also preparing strategies of transformation based on the criteria and framework formulated at the conference.
The participants spent the first two days visiting local church initiatives to overcome poverty and economic injustice. As part of the visits they heard presentations by representatives of the civil society, such as João Pedro Stédile, founder and a leading member of the Landless Workers' Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra), which is the biggest Brazilian member of the international peasants' movement Via Campesina.
Dr Rogate Mshana, the WCC’s programme executive for Poverty, Wealth and Ecology, also stressed the significance of the framework and criteria for a new financial and economic architecture.
“This conference is one of those platforms where responses can be articulated. We are aware that a four-day conference is far from adequate to address such complex financial and economic systems,” said Mshana. “But we are convinced and determined that we can start a process that will involve a search for moral and ethical systems that will embrace equity and ecological sustainability,” he concluded.