5 March 2024, Geneva, Switzerland: People gather for an inaugural Joint Meeting of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA), the Commission on Health and Healing (CHH), and the Commission on Climate Justice and Sustainable Development (CCJSD).


Together, they explored the theme "Faith and Effective Witness and Diakonia in the 21st Century.” All three commissions mapped out intersections with each other, and followed up with specific suggestions for collaborative work. 

WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs 

As the commission considered global challenges, it raised special concern regarding the proliferating conflicts around the world, especially in Gaza as well as in Ukraine and Sudan. In a context in which international cooperation is urgently needed to address this poly-crisis, but in which multilateralism and trust between nations is in retreat, the ecumenical movements message and example of justice, reconciliation, and unity are critically needed,” notes a report from the commission. 

Todays world is facing many grave challenges, the commission noted. The world is facing a multipolar disorder and crises as vicious cycles of insecurity and instability in various ways are threatening the peace and security of the world,” describes the commissions report.

Among these challenges are wars, ethnic conflicts and rightwing political extremism, proliferating political violence, and increasing unmet humanitarian needs.”

In addition, the commissions report cites the breakdown of the post-World War II international order based on the principles of multilateralism and the rule of law,” noting the ongoing conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine are examples of this breakdown, but there are many other crises situations that receive far less international attention.”

Commission members shared many issues and situations of concern from their own contexts and experiences from regional perspectives. The commission also recognized with deep concern the greatly diminished staff and financial resources currently at its disposal.

The commission also discussed areas such as human rights and fundamental freedoms, religious liberty, promotion of peace with justice and freedom, disarmament, good governance and rule of law, and right to self-determination of peoples under alien and colonial domination.

Five working groups will focus on: Peace and Security; Global Governance; Middle East; Human Rights; and Refugees, Migration, and Statelessness. Involvement in UN relationships and processes—including on UN reform—was also noted as a priority. 

WCC Commission for Health and Healing

The four workgroups of the commission met to address the obstacles and the prospects in providing holistic health and healing to every person in a world that faces so many challenges. The workgroups are Access and Health Systems, Mental Health, HIV and Reproductive Health, and Faith and Science. Each developed an action plan.

Related to Access and Health Systems, Over the past 20 years, health systems have developed across the globe,” noted a report by the commission. Governments have taken responsibility for health systems and many church health facilities have been sidelined and do not seem to play the role they played years ago.”

Addressing this concern, the commission noted there is a need for holistic care that churches can offer. 

The Mental Health working group set four priority areas: multiple aspects of trauma of the whole person and in all of societies, developing an interdisciplinary dialogue, youth and mental wellbeing, and overcoming loneliness and social isolation. In many countries 80% of the population do not have access to mental health services,” reads a report from the commission. This reality gives the footing to show the relevant work that needs to be done in this regard.”

The Working Group on HIV and Reproductive Health named four priority areas: vulnerability of young people; impact of gender-based violence including sexual abuse; stigma; and sustainability of the HIV and reproductive health response. Some activities for the upcoming year include drafting briefings on sexual and reproductive health issues, including its linkages with HIV, and gender-based violence, with actionable items for church leaders to engage,” reads the commissions report. Additionally, a theological framework for addressing human dignity and reproductive health generally is planned to be published this year, and the working group will partner with WCC staff to promote the framework in our networks.”

The Faith and Science working group will focus on theological anthropology in the age of artificial intelligence. The goal of the working group is to co-host an online event with the Canadian Council of Churches Faith and Life Sciences Reference Group in October 2024,” reads the commission report. It anticipates a panel discussion with at least four denominational viewpoints, ideally including two non-North American viewpoints.”

WCC Commission on Climate Justice and Sustainable Development

The new Commission on Climate Justice and Sustainable Development underscored the urgency and the emergency for concrete actions. 

The commission established five thematic working groups.

Climate Justice: From 2024-2025, this working group will map stories of mitigation and adaptation, and other climate actions by churches. The group will strengthen WCCs role at the UN climate talks. The working group will also aim to bridge dialogue with governmentcorporationsand communities to make climate justice accessible to all stakeholders.

Economy of Life: This working group will help to develop a campaign linking climate justice with global tax justice at COP29, offer theological reflections on wealth and economic justice, and work on the concept of de-growth as an alternative economic model or pathway for a more just and sustainable planet,” reads the commissions report.

Land, Water, and Food for Life: This group will produce theological reflections, highlighting regional perspectives and Indigenous voices,” according to the report. The group will also develop materials for churches to promote food sovereignty and to learn from Indigenous understandings of and relationships with the land. The group will also draft accessible briefs for churches to respond to issues.

Biodiversity and Creation Justice: According to the commissions report, this group will develop theological resources on biodiversity (learning from Indigenous wisdom, cosmologies, and spiritualities) as well as primers for churches to use their land and resources to protect biodiversity.” The group will develop an advocacy plan on behalf of biodiversity (including at the upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference). 

Ecumenical Diakonia and Sustainable Development Goals: This group will initiate study and research on eco-diakonia, Sustainable Development Goals, and climate-induced migration, and work with the reference group on the aforementioned themes.

The commission called upon the WCC to act on the call of the WCC 11th Assembly statement titled Living Planet – Seeking Just and Sustainable Communities” and launch an Ecumenical Decade for Climate Justice to mobilise churches, partners, and likeminded people for an urgent, coordinated, and impactful response to the climate emergency.

Three WCC commissions elect vice moderators (WCC news release, 8 March 2024)

Churches' challenges in health and healing work highlighted by global panel (WCC news release, 6 March 2024)

Climate emergency panel addresses how churches can respond with faith and hope (WCC news release, 6 March 2024)

WCC commission members debate impact of current political trends (WCC news release, 6 March 2024)

Three WCC commissions meet to confront emerging global challenges (WCC news release, 6 March 2024)

Photo gallery: Joint Meeting of Three WCC Commissions – March 2024


8 March 2024, Geneva, Switzerland: Participants gather for a photo at an inaugural Joint Meeting of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA), the Commission on Health and Healing (CHH), and the Commission on Climate Justice and Sustainable Development (CCJSD) of the World Council of Churches.