Dr. Agnes Abuom, moderator of the World Council of Churches Central Committee, offered a speech entitled “A Clarion Christian Call to Justice and Peace: Ending Global Inequality and Climate injustice” at the Justice Conference in Oslo, Norway on 9 November.
The Justice Conference is a global platform for the faith and justice community hosted in countries across the globe. One of the world’s largest biblical and social justice conferences, it brings together speakers and artists into gatherings designed to catalyze emerging works of justice around the world.
Abuom noted the importance and reality of people’s narratives of pain and suffering that often are left out of statistical reports.
“My presentation seeks to underline the fact that inequalities arise due to human greed, systems and policies skewed towards the powerful and a culture of non-sustainable resource extraction and utilization,” she said. “The substantial variations in the magnitude of rising inequality across regions, suggests that inequality is not just a consequence of globalization but also depends on the existing policies and institutions.”
The current global economic, political and military architecture is such that it is exclusive, insensitive and dehumanizing for many groups of people and nations, continued Abuom.
“Never before has the world experienced such levels of global inequality,” she said. “The rapid rise in extreme economic inequality is a direct threat to the fight for gender equality and women’s rights.”
Abuom also noted that global warming has been caused by economic development interventions that benefit a few nations and people. “The poor are the worst affected by environmental degradation,” she said. “They have the highest exposure to pollution; the world’s highest mortality rates in children are attributed to drinking dirty water.”
Climate refugees are on the rise, she added. “Whereas refugees were, in the past, often borne from war, political instability and localized disasters, we have now entered the era of climate refugees – people forced to flee homes rendered inhospitable by the effects of global climate change,” she said. “It has been suggested that climate change will displace 250 million people by 2050, and in 20 years the figures could go up to 500 million.”
The global south is disproportionately affected, Abuom said.
“Countries that pollute more feel the effects less,” she said. “A recent report showed that the richest 10 percent of the world’s population are responsible for 50 percent of global carbon emissions, while the poorest 50 percent – 3.5 billion people – are responsible for 10 percent of the emissions.”
Men and women of faith, people of good will, are invited through the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace to restore our relationships with God, with one another and with the environment, Abuom said. “The pilgrimage is about recognizing and accepting our wounds, repentance and acknowledgement of our contribution and seeking to heal and be reconciled,” she said.
Combined efforts will definitely yield better results, concluded Abuom. “It would be a disgrace to not mobilize and utilize all that can be available right now,” she said. “More needs to be done to raise awareness about what can be done individually and collectively to make a difference.”