Churches tell summit: there can be no progress without justice

 "We must have the courage to admit that the market and globalization have failed more than two-thirds of the world population who live in poverty," said Dr Molefe Tsele, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) at the start of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. He said: "The evidence, is that we are now living with the legacy of unparalleled inequality between North and South, impoverishment, and deprivation of the barest necessities of life and dignity." Tsele is leading a joint SACC-World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) taking place from 26 August-4 September. The SACC-WCC delegation is part of a larger Ecumenical team. "We were present in Rio ten years ago and have accompanied the follow-up process," said Rev. Dr Martin Robra of the Justice, Peace, Creation (JPC) team of the WCC. "We know the Rio agreement for sustainable development was not fulfilled by the rich countries and the agenda was increasingly shaped by corporate interests. We have had enough of that." Dr Aruna Gnanadason, coordinator of the WCC's JPC team asked: "Whose sustainability are we talking about? The WCC continues to challenge the concept of sustainable development as a contradiction in terms, preferring instead the term 'sustainable communities', putting the focus back on the people. The Rio Earth summit raised expectations and hopes that there could be a change of direction. Ten years later, it seems we actually went backwards and business got its way at the expense of other sectors in society and the environment." "This is God's earth" was the theme of a worship service, held on 25 August, in Alexandra Township to mark the opening of the summit. During the summit, the Ecumenical team will hold three public forums in the Liban Centre, Mount Libanon Weg, Johannesburg on: * the constantly accumulating ecological debt owed by the North to the South (29 August) * corporate accountability (30 August) * climate change (2 September), when the WCC will call for solidarity with those most affected by climate change. source: SACC

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