Dr Konstantinos Zormpas, general director of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, welcomed the participants who will study, share experiences from their countries, and strategize projects for their home contexts.
In a written message, Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, WCC programme director for Public Witness and Diakonia, reminded participants that the Eco-School is an opportunity for youth to equip themselves for local action. “Your voices, advocacy, and actions should reach your governments, the international forums that would contribute towards the sustainable people and planet,” he said.
“After organising four editions of the Eco-School in the global south, for the first time we are meeting in the global north, which is unfortunately, responsible for contributing to very large carbon emission with the US and EU accounting for about 40% of cumulative Green House Gas emissions globally,” added Mtata.
The 2022 Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change report predicts that climate change will push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty in the next decade alone, endangering access to water, food security, livelihoods, and health. Europe and the North America regions have the resources, ability, and resilience to tackle climate change. However, its political will to do so fluctuates under various aspects.
Very Rev. Dr Augustinos Bairactaris, associate professor of ecumenical movement and Orthodox theology, shared insights on the Orthodox perspective on ecological crisis. “Eco-theology can provide the churches with some new interpretation tools of the gospel such as the ecological ethics and a refresh perspective of ecclesiology. In that framework, eco-theology and eco-justice could be a form of reconciliation between humanity and the natural environment,” he said.
The 2023 edition of the WCC Eco-School is organized by the WCC Ecumenical Water Network in collaboration with various WCC programmes including the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Economic and Ecological Justice programme, Youth Engagement in the ecumenical movement, and Health and Healing. The programme was made possible through the financial contributions from churches in Europe and North America, particularly through grant support from Thrivent Charitable Impact Investing through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.