THE conclusion of a consultation on climate change, held in Fiji at the request of the Archbishop of the Province of Polynesia in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Dr Winston Halapua, has ended with a renewing of commitment for churches and mission agencies to work together to combat climate change.
Organised by the mission agency United Society (Us.), the week-long consultation “Encountering God in the Storm” was attended by senior clergy from across Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Oceania, and Africa (News, 8 July).
The charity’s global relations director, Rachel Parry, said: “Delegates were able to share about the different ‘storms’ faced in their diverse contexts. We prayed daily with the sound of the ocean in our ears and the waves in our view, keeping us constantly mindful of the rising sea-levels in this part of the world — a result of global warming.
”I think I can say that the experience has renewed us in our efforts to collaborate on advocacy about climate change, and in our commitment to climate justice. We learned more deeply how climate change impacts food security, livelihoods, and education, as well as environmental damage to forests, rivers, agriculture, ocean, and air.”
Delegates also heard from Professor Elisabeth Holland, the director of the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development and a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her research into climate change.
Professor Holland said that, unless action is taken, “it is increasingly possible that in the next 150 years we will have three metres of sea-level rise.”
Delegates agreed that there was a particular need to encourage children to acquire an affinity with the environment, as well as an opportunity for the Church to help communities learn about land management to mitigate the destructive impact of climate change.
One delegate said afterwards: “During our time we shared frank and respectful exchange on the major theme of the consultation, climate change, which was deepened by being in the context where this so obviously matters.
“It was a rich encounter between all four corners of the globe on the priorities of all parts of the Anglican Communion. The consultation’s theme of ‘Encountering God in the Storm’ came alive for all of us here in Fiji.”