A 28 July World Council of Churches (WCC) webinar entitled "Reconnecting in faith with creation, land and water” explored the ways in which we tie our faith to living responsibly on earth. Participants explored together why and how a sustainable future must be based on the interdependency of the whole creation, not an anthropocentric understanding in which human beings are the dominant species.
Speakers offered practical insights into how to support life-giving agriculture as well as ensure access to clean water and dignified sanitation for all.
Author and activist Dr Maude Barlow, who is also a founding member of the Council of Canadians and co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, emphasized the importance of honoring the human right to water. “We humans have exploited the natural resources and many private corporations know that water is a scarce resource, and those who control water are going to be powerful and wealthy,” she said. “But water is a public trust and a common good and not a commodity.”
For Mervyn Abrahams, coordinator of the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group, in South Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that that food system that is based on the globalised and industrial model cannot provide access to sufficient and nutritious food for most of the world's population. “As people of Faith we have to reconsider localised food systems to meet peoples need, which can only be achieved if small scale farmers are having the access to land, water and markets”, he said.
The webinar is part of a series inspired by the WCC's “Roadmap for Congregations, Communities and Churches for an Economy of Life and Ecological Justice,” a resource rooted to the congregational level of churches’ engagement in ecological and economic justice.
Dr Susan L. Smith, professor of Environmental Law and director of the Certificate Program in Sustainability, College of Law, Willamette University (USA) underlined the exclusion faced by the indigenous communities around the world among other marginalized communities’ access to clean water. “There are 2.2 million people from the United States who lack access to clean water, and a majority of them are people of colour and mostly the indigenous community of Navajo nations,” she said. “They also have been a hotspot of COVID-19, since about 40% of them do not have access to clean water.”
Elina Welmiria a theologian, an alumni of WCC Eco School, and member of the Protestant Evangelical Church in [West] Timor, Indonesia, gave a youth perspective on the issues of land and water. “Unfortunately, today, simple living is a big challenge,” she said. “Consumeristic culture is a trend among young people to buy unnecessary products to show off among peers, including bottled water and fast-food which impacts our planet earth.”
During the webinar, participants celebrated the 10th anniversary of the landmark resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly which “recognised the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.