We sincerely thank Rev James Bhagwan, the General Secretary of the Pacific Council of churches and his dynamic team, including the Councils of Churches and member churches in the different nations, who have helped make this Eco-School possible. The lockdown and disruptions have meant that this Eco-School is being conducted in various stages using a Hybrid methodology. The youth in the different island nations gather in their clusters while being connected internationally and regionally. The school is benefiting from international, regional and national resource persons. The PCC, Churches in the Pacific along with the WCC Eco School team have done a lot of preparatory work to help the Eco School a reality, despite the obvious challenges posed by the Pandemic.

We are deeply grateful to our many Ecumenical partners, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and InFaith community Foundation for their continued support to the Eco School. It is your dedicated support that has helped us carry forward the Eco-School, from 2017, in Africa, the Latin Americas and Asia. For the current edition in the Pacific, you have stood shoulder to shoulder with all of us, despite the current restrictions and the challenges we are facing to help realise the school in an innovative new way.

I am speaking for an inclusive team of colleagues from the WCC who are responsible for carrying out the Eco-School over the years.

The WCC Ecumenical Water Network (WCC-EWN), in collaboration with the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA), Economic and Ecological Justice, Health and Healing programme, Youth Engagement in the ecumenical movement, and the Mission from the Margins is leading the Eco School.  I must admit that this is one of the few programmes at the WCC that sees such large and diverse collaborations around one activity.

We have learned many vital lessons from the experience of conducting the Eco School from the past years.  We have to address the challenges in a holistic and interconnected manner across different disciplines. To mobilise the whole community, the quest has to be wholly owned by our churches.  To ensure success, our motivations and actions need to be rooted in our faith and our thirst for righteousness and justice. We are engaged in eco justice inspired by our spiritual enlightenment offered by our God of Justice.

I understand that in an ecumenical setting, participants of the Eco-School have the opportunity to study the local, regional, and international manifestations and causes of the water crisis, food insecurity and the health challenges affected by climate change. Their faith, indigenous wisdom and experience of the local community and youth are critical as they chart out solutions and the way forward. By the end of the Eco-School, participants are expected to be equipped with the tools to become eco-advocates for a more sustainable and just earth. To this end, they are expected to draw action plans that may be implemented in their communities.

While the people and the environment in the Pacific are most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, water and food crisis, the people in the Pacific are not the cause of these destructive trends.  The world's richest 10% produces half of the global carbon emissions, while the most impoverished 3.5 billion account for just a tenth. So as you equip yourself for local action, your voices, advocacy and actions should reach the international forums. We have a common home, the earth, and we strive together, to nurture it.

As the youth, you are not the leaders of tomorrow; rather, you are the leaders of the world today. The world is in peril if we disregard youth leadership empowerment. The youth hold the rest of the world accountable for a sustainable future.

Much of the solutions to overcome the existential crisis that humanity is facing today, we learn from the wisdom of communities facing these challenges in the most intensive manner, notably the indigenous communities and those living in the margins of society.

The indigenous communities in diverse regions, in this case from Native American tribes and communities in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands- have been credited with upholding a profound value that says:

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."[1][2]

We are one human family. We have to go beyond just focusing on what God has blessed us within the creation and celebrating and relishing it.  Let us invest in reflecting and acting on what we will pass on to the coming generations. The young people are holding the world accountable. Let us make sure that our communities' youth are empowered and equipped to ensure that they succeed in their mission of caring for creation and carry forward their witness to the coming generations. Let the Eco-School contribute to this vision in a sustainable and inspirational manner.

Thank you and God bless this valuable endeavour.

[1] Reverend Michaela Youngson on passing things on to future generations.


[2] Sustainability Report -NOVA Parks (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority).