World Council of Churches

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Poverty, wealth and ecology

This project brings churches and partners together to reflect on the connections between poverty, wealth and ecology; act against economic injustice; address just trade, ecological debt, decent work; and pursue work on "Alternative globalization addressing people and earth (AGAPE).
Poverty, wealth and ecology

Little boy in Guiyu, China. Electronic waste is routinely exported by developed countries to developing ones, where recycling is often done by hand in scrap yards, without adequate protection for workers and the environment.

Impact of economic globalization

Through economic globalization, the structures of trade and finance are increasingly widening the gap between the rich and the poor, posing threats to global peace and to the earth.

At the 2006 WCC assembly in Porto Alegre, it was evident that there are divergent ways of analyzing and acting on this reality; there is hope that the WCC may be able to develop a new paradigm that draws different positions on this question together.

This project encourages churches to explore and advocate for alternatives to economic globalization. It is an attempt to bring churches and ecumenical partners from North, South, East and West together to reflect and act together on finding new and creative ways to use global wealth to eradicate poverty. It encourages them to create new synergies between different standpoints on poverty, wealth, and ecology.

In the context of the AGAPE (Alternative to Economic Globalization Addressing Peoples and Earth) process that began before 2006, the project will follow up work with ecumenical partners, focussing on issues such as just trade, debt cancellation, financial markets, tax evasion, public goods and services, livelihoods and decent jobs, life-giving agriculture, power and empire, and ecological debt.

While many studies have provided information on people in poverty, little is known about the rich. The churches will be challenged to develop a "consumption and greed line" alongside the "poverty line" as a guideline for Christians.

A case study and workshop methodology will bring together experiences of churches regionally and globally. Churches will be encouraged to bring  their stories and actions on how they deal with poverty and wealth to regional workshops. Seminars will be organized at the World Social Forum. Encounters raising issues of poverty, wealth and ecology will continue with the WB and the IMF.

Persons responsible for economic justice in the churches or those addressing issues of poverty and wealth will be identified so as to form a creative and active network, and a reference group will include representatives of those working on ecological debt, women, youth, Indigenous Peoples and people with disabilities.

Video: The cup of justice

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Related Documents

Peace in the Market Place

Paper presented at the AGAPE Reference Group meeting, 26 June 2008

World Trade Game

The World Trade Game was initially developed in the 1990s by Action Aid, the global anti-poverty development organization. Its strength is its simplicity. Six groups of players represent two rich, two middle-income and two poor countries and each group has different resources and technological potential. National resources are represented as paper whilst technology becomes scissors, pens, rulers, etc. They manufacture shapes from paper, trade the shapes for money through a commodity trader and may also trade amongst themselves in raw materials (paper), technology (scissors, ruler, etc), skills and labour.