If the worsening global inequality highlighted recently is to be tackled, world leadership must act “now”, in tangible ways, says World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.
The WCC leader is participating in the 2017 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland this week, which has as the theme: “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”.
As a faith leader, Tveit said in Davos, he plans to carry the urgent message that, “If global leadership is to be responsive and responsible, it must put inequality at the top of its agenda, it must tackle inequality in tangible ways, and it must do so now.”
Tveit said, “The problem of inequality is related to deep structures of difference and division related to class, race, gender and more. What we do know for sure is that it is not true that all children are born with the same possibilities, and particularly not in a country like the USA, where this has been a slogan so often.”
The WCC general secretary noted, “On the day of the inauguration of the 45th President of the USA, elected by the strong support of those who are afraid of losing their white superiority and privilege, there are many who wonder what the new administration of the most powerful nation will do in this respect.”
Tveit underlined, “This is the time to give a clear message from all sectors of US society and in the whole world that neither the USA nor the world at large need more separation, more gaps, more people left behind, or excluded from the economic development. It will increase the risks for all.”
In reaction to a newly-released report from Oxfam, Tveit noted it referencing a “widening socio-economic chasm between the rich and the poor” that is a continuing indictment of the global economic system.
Oxfam’s analysis, titled “An economy for the 99 percent,” found that eight billionaires account for more than half the world’s wealth.
“Clearly an economic system that rewards those who practice exploitation, corruption and tax evasion, that generates ever-increasing returns for billionaires and millionaires – even as it fails to feed, shelter and clothe nearly a billion people – is dysfunctional” said Tveit. “More than this, it is immoral. Inequality fuels poverty, and poverty kills.”
“Now, more than ever, churches and people of faith must heed the call of the pilgrimage of justice and peace to call for an economy of life that embraces and cares for all human beings, especially those who have been pushed aside: the impoverished, many women, children, and migrants” he added. “In the Holy scriptures, God expresses a preferential option for the poor, over and over again.”
In concrete terms, this means churches should advocate effectively and unceasingly for financial regulation, just trade policies, decent livelihoods, fair taxation, social protection for the vulnerable and alternative measures of socio-economic progress.