The webinar opened with a report on-the-ground at COP26 from Henrik Grape, World Council of Churches (WCC) senior advisor on climate justice. Grape spoke about how the WCC has been considering climate justice from a Christian theological perspective for many years.
“Climate change is something that we have known about for some time,” said Grape, adding that the current climate change conference is considering the question: “How can we have a mechanism for those whose livelihoods are destroyed by climate-related catastrophes?
“This is a long, long discussion between different governments,” said Grape.
WCC deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri shared a message, read by Katlego Mohuba from South Africa.
Phiri’s message emphasized facing the facts about climate change and food. “Since 2015, the world has seen the warmest six years in recorded history,” the message said. “As our climate continues to heat up and the impacts of that warming grow more frequent and severe, farmers, fisherfolk and communities around the world are increasingly challenged.”
Tsiry Nantenaina, from Madagascar, moderated the discussion, asking in-depth questions. “Could you point to specific gains and the challenges ahead?” he asked. “Can you share how your work is assisting communities to adapt and cope with the situation?”
Voices from a world in climate crisis
Jazmine Rocco Predassi, co-coordinator of the Climate Action Network, Agriculture-Política Climática/Climate Policy, Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales in Argentina, talked about how agriculture has been incorporated slowly within the space of global climate change dialogue.
She gave an overview of “Koronivia” workshops through which experts within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations jointly address issues related to agriculture, taking into consideration the vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and approaches to addressing food security.
Aurélie Ravoavison, a youth sdvocacy champion for nutrition in Madagascar, expressed deep appreciation for the speakers and audience. “I just want to appreciate and keep up the good work,” she said, adding that “climate change is one of the biggest issues” in Madagascar and “a big cause of poverty.”
Dr Million Belay, general coordinator of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (Ethiopia), spoke on agro-ecology, intergenerational learning and advocacy.
“As you all know, Africa is basically an agricultural community,” he noted. “Over 70 percent of the African community lives on agriculture. Agriculture is our life.”
Rev. James Bhagwan, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, also offered on-the-ground greetings from COP26. He shared photographs of how extractive exploitation has grave consequences on Pacific island peoples.
“At the same time, or course we are severely affected as people who have a very strong spiritual connection with the land and the sea so you can imagine what this is doing to our communities,” he said. "On an extreme point, the impact results in climate-induced displacement and relocations.”
Prof. Jesse N.K. Mugambi, professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies (retired), University of Nairobi, Kenya, offered a brief closing reflection. “I have been involved in this issue of ecology all my life,” he said. “In all this, I have learned that we must learn to work with nature rather than against it.”
Joy Eva Bohol, programme executive for WCC Youth Engagement, also gave an on-the-ground report from COP26, where she had just participated in an interfaith reflection on the climate change conference. “Several people said the word they wild affiliate just by being here at COP, is ‘grief,’ ” said Bohol, adding that this grief can spark action. “This is the time that we do take action and really do as much as we can to save our planet so that we can have more years to come—and also because we owe this, we owe the planet, this life right now, to the next generation as well.”