During an intergenerational, international dialogue on 19 November, World Council of Churches deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri spoke on poverty in the context of COVID-19, and how it relates to sustainability, climate change and the use of natural resources.
“Rooted in an unjust and ecologically unsustainable economic model, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are wreaking havoc on people’s lives,” said Phiri. “The pandemic is both an offshoot of and catalyst to the current economic catastrophe.”
It is also closely connected to the climate, Phiri added. “While unprecedented lockdowns and other measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 have triggered a fall in greenhouse gas emissions, these interventions have also led to soaring joblessness, poverty and hunger in both the developed and developing world,” she said. “Amidst much suffering, the crises have revealed several truths: that health is wealth, that economy and ecology cannot be separated, that we are all interconnected as one Earth community, that we need to invest deeply in systems of care and resilience and in the protection of our global ecological commons, and that we have to radically reshape economic policies and paradigms so as to nurture the health and wellbeing of people and planet.”
Many churches are raising awareness on the economic and environmental root causes which led to the COVID-19 pandemic, Phiri continued. “Transforming economic systems to bend the CO2 emissions curve and preserve biodiversity has become the most urgent intervention to address the exacerbation of poverty, and protect the future of children and young people,” she said. “Faith communities are well placed to promote concrete solutions.”
The roundtable, initiated by Arigatou International, was co-sponsored by UNICEF, the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, Religions for Peace, the Global Coalition to End Child Poverty, and World Vision International.
Children and young people interacted with senior religious leaders of different faiths and leaders from UN agencies and civil society. The discussion was part of the Online Global Week of Faith in Action for Children with activities each day from 16-20 November.