World Council of Churches -
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22 August 2002
Justice: the heart of sustainability
WCC sends delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development
"We must have the courage to admit that the market and globalization have failed more than two-thirds of the world population who live in poverty," says Dr Molefe Tsele, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). "The evidence, which is impossible to hide any longer, is that we are now living with the legacy of unparalleled inequality between North and South, impoverishment, and deprivation of the barest necessities of life and dignity."
Tsele will lead a joint SACC-World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August-4 September. The SACC-WCC delegation will be part of a larger Ecumenical Team which has attended all the preparatory meetings for the WSSD.
"We were present in Rio ten years ago and have accompanied the follow-up process," said Rev. Dr Martin Robra of the Justice, Peace, Creation (JPC) team of the WCC. "We know the Rio agreement for sustainable development was not fulfilled by the rich countries and the agenda was increasingly shaped by corporate interests. We have had enough of that."
Dr Aruna Gnanadason, coordinator of the WCC's JPC team asks, "Whose sustainability are we talking about? The WCC continues to challenge the concept of sustainable development as a contradiction in terms, preferring instead the term 'sustainable communities', putting the focus back on the people. The Rio Earth summit raised expectations and hopes that there could be a change of direction. Ten years later, it seems we actually went backwards and business got its way at the expense of other sectors in society and the environment."
"This is God's earth" is the theme of a worship service, on 25 August, to mark the opening of the WSSD, to be held in Alexandra Township. The service is being hosted by the SACC for all delegates to the WSSD and the local community.
During the WSSD, the Ecumenical Team will hold three public forums in the Liban Centre, Mount Libanon Weg, Johannesburg on :
* the constantly accumulating ecological debt owed by the North to the South (29 August);
* corporate accountability (30 August);
* climate change (2 September), when the WCC will call for solidarity with those most affected by climate change.
For further details on WCC statements on these issues see WCC website:
Christians all around the world are called by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, to celebrate 1 September as Creation Day, and to pray for the WSSD in churches around the world. His call has been taken up by the WCC and the European Christian Environmental Network (
). A chain of prayer will accompany the summit at the beginning of the high-level negotiations in the second week of the event.
For further information: Bob Scott, WCC Public Information Team, tel. 0041 22 791 6166
or the Ecumenical Team in Johannesburg:
Dr Martin Robra (WCC) or Sister Wendy Flannery (Sisters of Mercy) at the Cedar Park Hotel, Woodmead, Johannesburg; tel: 0027 11 804 3777; Fax: 0027 11 802 1004
Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
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, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.