Among the speakers was a former prime minister, the head of the global health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief, the leader of the United Nations food programme, the man at the helm of the WCC, a global Muslim leader, a top official from the International Red Cross, ambassadors, politicians, and other big names were among those watching them.
The meeting offered a humanitarian and religious perspective during a dialogue on humanitarian aid on 10 June at a Geneva hotel. The event was facilitated by Kjell Magne Bondevik, former prime minister of Norway.
Speakers mentioned how war, conflict and climate change impact people's ability to live in peace and dignity and how they must work together to solve them.
Aamir Javed Sheikh, head of the Foundation Dialogue for Peace, told the participants that each of them can make a difference.
"There are millions of people that depend on our help. We cannot make them lose their hopes. We are today gathering in a city of peace-making where freedom of religion, expressions of assembly and basic equality under the law are taken for granted," said the foundation's head.
WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca spoke on the faith and spiritual foundations for helping one another that are central to Christians.
"What we now call humanitarian aid is at the very heart of our Christian identity, life, and work," said Sauca. "This imperative comes from the affirmation that out of love for humanity and the whole cosmos, God has assumed flesh in Christ."
He said, "The root causes of injustice and poverty must also be addressed."
"And already, since the 1970s, the WCC has been promoting and advocating sustainable development and an effective response to the existential threat of climate change," said Sauca.
He said that the setbacks caused by COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine should not arise as excuses for inaction and failure. "The one billion poorest people in the world deserve a better life," said Sauca.
"Indeed, as important as the work of international humanitarian agencies is, it is often national and local faith-based organizations and communities who are the leading edge and long-term foundation for humanitarian relief and development."
David Beasly, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, spoke via video link and lamented that around the world in recent years, matters have worsened, "and quite frankly, just when you think it can't get any worse.
"Because we have conflict, climate shocks, COVID, and then Ukraine. Before the Ukraine crisis, we were facing unprecedented food insecurity around the world.
Breadbasket of the world
"And then Ukraine, the devastating dynamic of Ukraine - it is the breadbasket of the world as a nation that produces enough food to feed over 400 million people."
When he took his role at the head of the WFP five years ago, 80 million people were marching towards starvation, which later spiked to 135 million "right before COVID."
"And you'd ask the question, well, why, what happened? Well, some man-made conflict. And then climate shocks around the world. Then comes COVID economic, a ripple effect on every economy around the world, and especially devastating the poorest of the poor," said Beasly.
"And the number of people marching to starvation went from 135 to 276 million people. Now what's troubling is within that, 49 million people are knocking on famine's door in 43 countries."
The WHO's director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke of growing to "the sounds of war, smells of war and sights of war" in his native Ethiopia that "came flooding back" with "painful childhood memories after a recent visit to Ukraine.
It "was painful due to again not only my childhood memories but what's happening in Tigray, Ethiopia, where I come from, where more than six million people have been under siege for 18 months, sealed off from the rest of the world by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces.
"People are dying because of starvation and treatable diseases," said Tedros. "War is bad enough. But it is made worse because it creates the conditions for disease to spread."
He noted that in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere, conflict shatters health systems and the people they serve. It deprives communities of essential health services and leaves psychological scars that can take years or decades to heal.
Dr Muhammad Bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said, "We call upon the rich to alleviate the suffering of the poor by supporting them, especially with the necessities of life such as medicine, education, and many other needs. For example, it is painful to see the witch getting the COVID-19 vaccines while the poor are deprived of them."
The session was moderated by Norwegian journalist Tomm Kristiansen, former leader of ACT Alliance’s communications.