Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

Ten years after the near-collapse of the world’s economy, what has changed?

Not much, says the World Council of Churches (WCC), and certainly not enough.

A statement by the WCC’s executive committee, meeting in the southern Swedish city of Uppsala noted that the epic collapse revealed large-scale systemic problems in the world’s economic infrastructure yet was largely a missed opportunity for reform.

Indeed, says the statement, much of the continuing social consequences of the financial crisis have been negative, including “escalating levels of income inequality, even greater concentration of wealth in the hands of an even smaller group of economic elites, increased economic precariousness for a larger majority of the world’s population, growing sovereign indebtedness, widespread youth unemployment, social and political instability, and the rise of populist political forces in many contexts around the world.”

Calling the need for true economic transformation urgent, the committee observed little lasting and meaningful economic reform or even punishment of those responsible for the crisis has taken place.

“The unconstrained greed of an unaccountable few continues to create risks threatening the future of many, and the conditions for another global financial and economic crisis of even greater dimensions are rapidly emerging again.”

Praising ecumenical international efforts to identify marks and measures of an “Economy of Life,” the WCC urged concrete implementation, renewing its oft-repeated ”call for a new international financial and economic architecture for an economy of life that links finance to the real economy, accounts for social and ecological impacts, and sets effective constraints on greed.”

The committee also called for “effective regulation and real accountability for those individuals and entities – including transnational corporations and financial institutions regarded as ‘too big to fail’ – whose greed and corrupt practices have created, and continue to create, risks of widespread and disastrous economic crisis and instability, and deprive nations of the resources needed for equitable and sustainable development.”

Read the full WCC statement on economic transformation

Learn more about ecumenical efforts toward a New International Financial and Economic Architecture (NIFEA)

Read the signal document “An Economy of Life”