An Asian ecumenical consultation has voiced concern over environmental degradation that is creating many new “climate refugees.”
Delegates from Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand attended a Oct. 5-9 consultation that defined climate refugees as those forced to leave habitats due to disasters. The consultation was organized by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) in Bangalore, southern India.
Most of the world’s current 25 million climate refugees live in Asia and Africa, the meeting noted. Unjust social and economic systems add to these people’s misery as they suffer from poverty, sexual abuse and state brutality, participants said.
The consultation urged Churches and Asia’s social movements to educate people about nature and subaltern communities along with promoting just and responsible tourism. It also urged Christians to incorporate issues concerning the climate into the Sunday school curriculum to promote awareness among children.
It wants all Churches to set up eco-justice commissions and undergo regular carbon audit.
Methodist Bishop Tharanath Sagar, president of the National Council of Churches in India who opened the program, said humans have failed as good stewards of God’s creation. “Asian Churches should exercise their collective accountability toward nature and the environment,” said CCA executive secretary Baptist Pastor Freddy De Alwis.