WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca opened the discussion by reflecting on the importance of nurturing a world that is habitable for future generations. “By joining this webinar, you are sending a strong signal of hope to all,” he said. “By joining this initiative, you are using your influence to accelerate the most powerful actions for climate solutions.”
Prof. Dr Iyad Moghli, director, UN Environment Programme and Faith4Earth, noted that the joint appeal comes at a critical moment. “It is the responsibly of everyone to curb the impact of these global challenges and strive for sustainable ways of living to protect food, people and planet,” he said. “Science is clear about climate change.”
Prof. Kristie Ebi, from the Department of Global Health, University of Washington and an author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, spoke about how children are especially vulnerable to climate change impacts. “When we look across the decimating health outcomes we realize that about 85% of health impacts of the changing climate are in children, so children are the most affected,” she said.
Remco Fischer, Climate Change lead for the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, said that the financial system is making progress in addressing climate change. “I think in the last few years we have seen a surge in concern and proactivity in parts of the financial system on climate change,” he said, though he underscored there is much work to be done. “The world's faith communities can be a very powerful catalyst for all of that.”
WCC programme executive for Child Rights Frederique Seidel pointed out that children cannot influence banks. “Your testimony will help us understand why climate finance is one of the most urgent child protection methods today,” she said.
Echoing Seidel’s call for action, Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, said it would be a huge mistake if faith communities think that adding their name to a statement is enough. “The time for solely secondhand engagement ended about a decade ago,” he said.
Prof. V. Ramanathan, a council member from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, emphasized the importance of building resilience, because extreme weather events are going to keep getting worse and worse for the next 20 years. “We have to talk about adaptation on a major scale, and build resilience for humanity,” he said. “Generations to come—who have nothing to do with these emissions —are going to suffer the consequences.”
Rev. Dr James Bhagwan, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, reflected that, in the Pacific region, people’s spirit and faith are connected to the land and the ocean. “We cannot be forced to put at risk our children’s future because of the desire for profit in the present,” he said. “We ask you on behalf of our children in the Pacific: what kind of ancestors will you be?”
Dr Harold Hunter, representing the Pentecostal World Fellowship, underscored how influential churches can be. “The hour has come to repent and reform in order to restore all of God’s creation,” he said.