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“Only through shared progress can we be free from hunger and inequity”

“Only through shared progress can we be free from hunger and inequity”

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

25 January 2018

How can we create a shared future in a fractured world? How do we nurture and sustain a vision of freedom from hunger and inequity, when in an increasingly connected world, we see disturbing levels of ethical and moral disconnect?

This week world leaders are gathered in Davos under the very theme of “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”. They do so at a time when we see poverty amongst plenty; hunger and thirst in the midst of abundance; shocking disparities in the quality of life between neighboring communities: real problems that the world has the potential and the possibilities to resolve.

To overcome these challenges, we are called to listen to each other more intently; especially to those who are at the margins of society; to strengthen our work with each other across society; exercising our capacity for compassion, kindness and mutual assistance.

It is a scandal that one in nine people in the world goes to bed hungry every night, and one in three suffers malnutrition. This is the worst and most unacceptable division in the world. This must be a key theme, particularly for a meeting of people who have the political and financial influence to bring about change in the world and to strengthen the future cooperation, to dissolve the fragmentation of society worldwide.

Let us sharpen our sensitivity to the needs of our fellow human beings, and strengthen our societies, organizations, and companies by consistently promoting justice, creativity, solidarity, and by ensuring timely remedial actions.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is devoted to bringing churches and communities together, and facilitating its membership to reflect on the existential challenges and realities faced by people; to encourage and support individual and societal responses and action at every level. The daily bread “we” pray for to “be given to us” must be the bread we share. This “we” must include the poorest and the hungry as well as the wealthy and well fed. God has given us the resources in this world for all of us. This is the most basic moral and spiritual issue in the world.

To assist in reflecting and spurring action on food, the WCC promotes a global campaign on “Food for Life”.  We develop tools, such as the “Ten Commandments of Food”, consultatively, for communities to address the right to food and sustainable agriculture through the lens of their faith and beliefs, so that key messages are brought close to people’s hearts.

As more people faced famine in 2017 than any time in modern history, the WCC and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) responded together with a range of faith-based partners by declaring a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine. On 21 May 2017, 120 churches and partners representing more than a billion people joined the effort. Effective campaigning through prayer resources and social media activities created increased awareness and mobilized action in response to famine.

On 28-29 June, the WCC, AACC and ACT Alliance mobilized faith communities to overcome hunger and sustain justice and peace in the Horn of Africa, by planning joint action to address urgent needs in the region. In addition, the leaders made it clear that the only way to find a lasting and long-term solution to famine, is to address the root causes of the crisis by responding to Climate Change, addressing and resolving conflicts and by promoting good governance.

For a long-term vision of a future of shared progress, and in the accompaniment of our communities to build peace and face climate change, we cannot aspire for our own fulfillment in isolation. Together we can ask the right questions and together we can find the solutions to overcome even the greatest challenges. Only if we work together can we achieve and sustain the overall happiness, prosperity, and well-being of society.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. (Matthew 5:6.) As our communities have guided us, we are committed to addressing hunger and famine holistically.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit,
General Secretary,
World Council of Churches

Tveit to World Economic Forum: Say no to nuclear weapons (WCC press release of 22 January 2018)

WCC Food for Life Campaign