Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit both have pressed for the future sustainability of earth and stronger commitments for ecological justice at Rio+20.
They sent messages to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Rio+20 which will take place from 20 to 22 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event will assess the developments twenty years after the UN Earth Summit on Environment and Development of 1992.
In his message, Bartholomew I pointed out the challenges world leaders will face in “correcting the degradation of the planet” at Rio+20. He said that the “delegates must look beyond the surface of problems in order to probe their root causes, which lie in the human heart and mind. A satisfactory conclusion to the Earth Summit requires a penetration into the root causes of ecological afflictions. An easy approach will not solve these problems.”
Signifying the “ecology of heart and mind” in his message, the Ecumenical Patriarch asked the participants to “perceive the world as having a spiritual as well as a physical dimension”, since the “world is a sacred place as well as our only home”.
“What we are proposing and proclaiming here is not just theological rhetoric. For many people, these issues are now a matter of life and death,” he added.
As government delegates started the 3rd Preparatory Committee Meeting of UNCSD 2012 on 13 June, the WCC general secretary emphasized the significance of their encounter in his message. “At the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, governments have the opportunity to recommit to past agreements and agree on a roadmap for the sustainable future we want.”
Recalling the challenges issued by past global initiatives for climate justice, and its relation to “green economy”, one of the main themes at Rio+20, Tveit said, “Our children are asking why we have not been able to achieve more in these twenty years.”
“Justice and peace criteria should permeate the contents of a green economy, which should be based on principles such as sustainability, dignity, equity, sufficiency, inclusion and resilience,” added Tveit. Highlighting the theme of his message, he concluded by saying, “We do have hope. We believe God renews the whole creation through the Spirit so that life prevails.”