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WCC reflects on ecological racism and climate justice at conference in Crete

WCC reflects on ecological racism and climate justice at conference in Crete

Participants of the Conference in Crete. Photo: WCC

03 October 2019

"Ecological racism and prophetical voices for ecological crisis – Climate justice". This was the theme of the 6thinternational conference on Ecological Theology and Environmental Ethics organized at the Orthodox Academy of Crete under the auspices of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on 23-26 September.

The WCC was represented by Dr Louk Andrianos and Dr Guillermo Kerber. Andrianos, organizer of the conference since 2008, is a WCC consultant for care of creation, sustainability and climate justice. Kerber is a WCC advisor and former programme executive for economic and ecological justice.

Participants heard messages from “Green Patriarch” Bartholomew I and WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

The conference was started in 2008 to promote the interfaith and interdisciplinary search of solutions to important environmental problems of our time.

“The increasing number of young theologians participating as well as the multi-faith character of the conference are signs of hope for the promotion of eco-justice and environmental ethics,” said Andrianos.

The theme of this year’s conference contributes to the thematic focus of WCC on racism for 2019. Participants from many different countries (Canada, Norway, India, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ethiopia, Qatar, USA, UK, Greece) and diverse faith traditions presented their visions. “Discussions were a clear expression of the spirit of dialogue of the ‘symphilosophein' of the Orthodox Academy of Crete,” noted Antonios Kalogerakis, head of the academy’s Institute of Theology and Ecology.

Interventions made by scientists and faith representatives of various Christian denominations and Muslim participants showed the relevance of the concepts of ecological racism and climate apartheid to address the continuing threat of the life on planet earth due to climate change and human greed. In various ways and from various regions in the world, participants stated how threats continue to undermine biodiversity, how unlimited greed has led to the depletion of natural resources and poverty, how species continue to disappear, and how the increase of the force and frequency of droughts, floods, hurricanes, as well as the increase in global average temperature and CO2 emissions reflect the reality of climate change.

Reflection on the “Economy of Life” helped deepen the understanding of Christian eco-theology. The contribution of basic sciences, psychology, philosophy and religious studies have become indispensable for developing eco-theology and environmental ethics. Laudato si recommendations, contemporary ecofeminism and green institutions were also discussed.

"Our daily life, our routines and our choices—such as our eating habits, our immediate relationship with the environment, our choices in consuming water and other resources—can be the means of directing us towards an authentic way of life or—conversely—drive us towards extinction,” said Sister Dr Theosemeni from the Monastery of Chyrsopigi in Chania.

During the three-day conference, participants visited a church monastery, natural botanical park and garden of Crete as well as a local environmentally-friendly olive oil factory. The contribution of youth to the discussion was strongly appreciated by all participants who committed themselves to strive for more involvement of youth in environmental ethics discourse.

Learn more about the WCC work on Care for Creation and Climate Justice