How racism and colonialism are exacerbating impacts of climate change

In the context of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, this webinar will explore both the tremendous achievement of the decolonization of land and people and the legacies of colonialism and their effects on people and the environment.

Arusha 2019

29 September 2021
08:30 - 10:00 (New York)

Click here to register

When the United Nations was founded in 1945, some 750 million people, nearly a third of the world's population, lived in Territories that were dependent on colonial Powers. Today, fewer than 2 million people live under colonial rule in the 17 remaining non-self-governing territories. The wave of decolonization, which changed the face of the planet, was born with the UN and represents the world bodys first great success.”[1]

For decades, science has informed us of the risk of global climate change and the human causes of that change. Speakers will explore the effects of the legacies of colonialism on the earth and the people who inhabit it. The effects of climate change are already being seen; immediate action is necessary to prevent worse fires, floods, hurricanes, desertification, and increased temperatures.

Racism is a scourge on society and continues to challenge the goals of the United Nations for international peace and security. We recognize the history of racism created by and encouraged by colonial powers and the negative effects of racist policies on states and people.

This event will include speakers from different religious traditions and UN personnel (invited) to seek an understanding of our shared history and provide insights on how we can overcome the colonial model.

This webinar is promoted by theWorld Council of Churches, with ACT Alliance, Islamic Relief, Soka Gakkai International, United Religions Initiative


Audri Scott Williams
Audri Scott Williams is the first woman to lead a global walk for Human Rights and Environmental Justice. She led the Trail of Dreams World Peace Walk over 6 continents (2005-2009); the 13 Moon Walk 4 Peace across America to over 50 communities (2010- 2011); led The Red Flame for Freedom Movement, a national movement to end human trafficking, mass incarceration and children in poverty. She currently is the visionary for 20 Million Women Strong. Audri is the first African American woman to run for Congress in Alabama, District 2; and a strong advocate for the Get Out the Vote Initiatives of Black Voters Matter and the League of Women Voters in Alabama.

Charles McNeill
Dr. Charles McNeill is the senior advisor on forests and climate for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), where he oversees the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative (IRI).  In the context of the UN Secretary-General’s ‘Climate Summit’ in September 2014, Dr. McNeill was responsible for organizing the Forest action area, one of the main elements of the Summit, by coordinating a global multilateral team of countries, companies and civil society organizations to contribute major announcements for the Summit on reducing deforestation and increasing restoration, including the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF).

Mohammad Akmal Shareef
Akmal Shareef is engaged in International development work for over two-decades. He has obtained his M.A is Social Work degree from Jamia Millia Islamia, a Central University based in New Delhi, India. Akmal Shareef has a deep interest in the area of social justice, gender, civil society development, people centred public policy, governance, human rights and rights of minority and indigenous groups. He has extensively worked in the South and Central Asia region on the complex issues of structural poverty, social exclusion and conflict. He has first hand experience of working in conflict settings wherein he used faith perspective to empower and educate women, girls and boys. He has also been instrumental in setting up a national coalition of minority and tribal civil society groups to advance Sustainable Development Goals in India. He extensively worked on engagement of excluded communities in development discourse across region.

Joy Eva A. Bohol
Joy Eva’s name is short for “Joyful Evangelist”— she is from Cebu City in the Philippines. She is a member of the First United Methodist Church. She is serving as a global missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Joy Eva's leadership and passion, working with young people through mission, has enabled her to serve in different countries including Colombia, the United States and Korea, where she worked closely on the theme of gender justice. She holds a degree in Journalism, from the University of the Philippines, and is currently serving as Program Executive for Youth Engagement in the ecumenical movement at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Collins Shava
Collins Kudakwashe Shava is a young, active Zimbabwean. He is the executive secretary for youth at the All Africa Conference of Churches. He is a holder of a Masters’ in Public Policy and Governance from Africa University (Zimbabwe). He is a former program assistant for economic justice & youth empowerment at the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC). He has interest in mobilizing young people to contribute towards the sustainable development agenda. He also has interest in ecumenism and the interconnectedness between religion and development work.  In his work so far, he has been a champion of youth empowerment and climate justice.

Moema Viezzer
Moema Viezzer, 
from Brazil, is a sociologist (M.A.) and popular educator internationally known for her engagement with social issues, particularly within the feminist and environmental movements. She is the author of various publications. The first one “Let me speak…”Domitila, is an oral history which  was translated into 14 languages. Her last publication is about Abya Yala:  Genocide-Resistence-Survival of more than 70million people from the First Nations in the Americas.  Moema is also committed with dissemination of the Earth Charter since 1992.  


Dr Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith is the Programme Executive and Representative to the United Nations in New York for the World Council of Churches. He has worked in the Christian community, serving with Caritas Internationalis, Catholic Charities USA, and the World Communion of Reformed Churches/ Presbyterian Church (USA) in advocacy, government relations and public witness. Ryan has received the Young Alumnus Award from Hartwick College and served as a United States Fulbright Fellow, teaching English and researching the economic integration of post-war Germany.  Ryan was recognized as an outstanding citizen from his hometown of Edinboro, Pennsylvania. He has published on human rights, human trafficking and international engagement.Ryan recently completed a Doctor of Ministry in public theology from Drew University. He holds a Master of Arts in diplomacy and international relations with specializations in international economics and development and international organizations from Seton Hall University and two Bachelors of Arts degrees in political science/economics and German from Hartwick College.

[1] https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/decolonization