An economic system based on over-consumption and greed has become firmly rooted in today’s world and it is high time to change this paradigm by working for a new financial and economic architecture. Committed to promoting international economic justice “grounded on a framework of common values: honesty, social justice, human dignity, mutual accountability and ecological sustainability”, the World Council of Churches (WCC) together with the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) now convenes a first ever Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and Management (GEM) for an Economy of Life, in Hong Kong SAR.
The GEM School, which gathers current and future church leaders on 22 August to 2 September 2016, is a continuation of the WCC’s decades of work on socio-economic justice, making it the first ever school focused on regulating financial flows and global economic governance for sustainability and a greater common good.
"The main goal of this GEM School is to strengthen the voice of the churches with regards to just global economics, and to bolster the role of the churches in building a new international financial and economic architecture", said Athena Peralta, WCC programme executive for Economic and Ecological Justice.
The group of lecturers for the School comes from a strong educational and professional background adding a new dimension and insight into the aims of the school. Among the long list of expert faculty are Prof. Martin Buscher from the Institute for Diakonia and Management (IDM) at the Protestant University of Wuppertal/Bethel, Germany, and serving as dean of the school; Dr. Marina Durano, a feminist economist, who works with the Open Society Foundation in New York; Prof. Nico Koopman, dean of the faculty of theology of Stellenbosch University; and Prof. Carlos Larrea, an expert in ecological economics, from the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar - each of them there to share their knowledge and experience with the young church leaders.
"In recent years, we have seen a lot of work done on the theological grounding for churches' engagement in economic questions. What is still often missing among churches, however, is the basic economic competencies necessary to do advocacy work in this area. That gap is what the GEM School will try to fill", Athena Peralta further added.
The GEM School brings together participants from culturally diverse backgrounds representing countries such as Liberia, South Africa, Tanzania, Australia, Philippines, Indonesia, Lebanon, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Argentina, Slovak Republic, Netherlands, Germany, Canada and USA.
The week-long School seeks to develop a new approach to economics through its enriching programme highlighting how the workings of the current financial and economic structure often leads to marginalization and poverty. A key goal is to provide a framework that will help moving towards a more inclusive and just economic architecture.
By the end of the programme the participants together with their mentors are expected to plan and develop a two to three-year strategic, ecclesiological and communications project proposal centred on “Economy of Life”. “This way, we hope to strengthen churches' advocacy tools, and help faith communities to dare to advocate for a transformation of our current economic and financial architecture,” Athena Peralta concludes.
The GEM School takes place at the Tao Fong Shan Center. It is organized by the WCC and the WCRC, in collaboration with the IDM, and hosted by the Hong Kong Christian Council.