From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC NEWS: Eradicating poverty is possible

From WCC media <>
Date Thu, 17 Jun 2010 17:46:01 +0200

>World Council of Churches - News


>For immediate release: 17 June 2010

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on world leaders  to put
impoverished people first, instead of making priorities of big banks  and
military expenditure.

In a statement released ahead of the United Nations summit on the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to take place in September 2010,  the
WCC has reiterated its conviction that eradicating poverty is both  "a
moral and ethical imperative" and an achievable goal.

"We believe that mobilizing the financial resources needed for poverty
eradication and the achievement of the MDGs […] is a matter  of political
will, yes, and also of moral courage," says a WCC statement presented  by a
small ecumenical delegation at the UN general assembly hearings  on the
MDGs held in New York on 14-15 June.

The WCC statement contrasts the resources needed to achieve the  MDGs with
the "trillions of dollars" that "in a matter of months" were put  together
by governments in rich countries "to resuscitate ailing financial
institutions" and ever-increasing "global military spending".

"We need to re-examine and dismantle such a perverse system of priorities
that places more importance on rescuing big banks and acquiring  machines
that kill people than on emancipating people from starvation and
homelessness," the statement says.

The eight UN Millennium Development Goals range from halving extreme
poverty to halting the spread of HIV and AIDS and providing universal
primary education – all by the target date of 2015. They  were adopted by
a summit of world leaders in September 2000. With only five years  left
until the 2015 deadline, another summit – meant "to accelerate  progress"
– will take place in New York in September 2010.

The 14-15 June hearings aimed at gathering civil society's input  to the
preparatory process for the September summit. The WCC was one of  the
representatives of civil society to testify at the two-day event.  Athena
Peralta, a consultant with the WCC for socio-economic and ecological
issues read a summary of the statement on 15 June.

For the WCC, what the world faces is not "a dearth of financial  resources
to overcome poverty", but "a dearth of life-affirming values and  morals
– a dearth of justice, solidarity and care".

In order to lift "societies and people out of poverty" a "much more
equitable distribution of assets (capital, technology, land, education  and
health care, among others)" is needed, the WCC statement says.

Therefore the WCC calls on governments and international institutions  to
work out economic policies that "move away from the current paradigm  that
is focused on unlimited growth and based on structural greed towards
models founded on pro-poor, redistributive growth".

The WCC statement includes a series of recommendations about "what  the
international community can and must do in [the] 1660 days" that  remain
before the 2015 deadline is met.

The WCC delegation to the UN hearings included Athena Peralta, Thembela
Njenga, director of the Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic
Transformation in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Rev. Christopher
Ferguson, WCC representative to the UN in New York.

The WCC delegation along with the WCC UN liaison office participated  at a
march that took place immediately before the hearings demanding  “End
Poverty Now”.

The WCC has general consultative status with the UN Economic and  Social
Council (ECOSOC) through its Commission of Churches on International

Full text of the WCC statement on the Millennium Development Goals
(Link:  )

WCC work on Poverty, wealth and ecology and the impact of economic
globalization (Link: )

UN Millennium Development Goals website (Link: )

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith,  witness and 
service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship  of churches 
founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant,
Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560  million 
Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the  Roman 
Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse  Tveit, from 
the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

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