October 20, 2021

Pacific Churches Declaration to COP26

Image: Church on Taveuni, Fiji (jdf_92: Flickr)

After two years of ecumenical consultation with affected communities and stakeholders, the Pacific Conference of Churches has prepared a declaration as part of the Climate Justice for All campaign in partnership with the Methodist Church in Britain, host country for this year’s UNFCCC Climate Conference known as COP26. 

COP26 will be attended by Rev. James Bhagwan. General Secretary of the PCC, and Ms. Iemaima Vaai, Ecumenical Enabler for Ecological Stewardship and Climate Justice and the Climate Justice for All Pacific Campaign worker.

The text of the Declaration, entitled  “Securing a Future for our Pacific”, reads:

In the midst of the existential threat of the climate crisis on the people and biodiversity of the Pacific; the Pacific Household of God amplifies the groaning of creation and the cry of people who face the destruction of homes, of communities and nations across our blue Pacific. Confronted with the threat to identity, livelihood and sovereignty, we draw on our spirituality and indigenous knowledge and life-affirming traditional values as a source of our resilience and hope in such adversity.

Scientific evidence has unequivocally proven the climate crisis continues to exacerbate at an alarming rate. As COP26 aims to secure global net zero and keep1.5 degrees within reach, we must also recognize that every fraction of an increase to warming temperatures also places our Pacific communities at a much higher risk of being swallowed by rising sea levels. Through this we therefore reaffirm our commitments towards securing a sustainable future for our land, our people and our diverse cultures.

As members of the regional ecumenical family, we declare that our Pacific leaders use their climate realities to display leadership in international climate change dialogue and decision making. We must fight for our future and ensure that the upcoming COP26 conference prioritises and protects the rights of present and future generations against the adverse effects of climate change.

We call on our national leaders to reaffirm their commitments in our collective fight for climate justice. Ensuring severely affected indigenous communities are provided with the right tools needed for a just recovery, provided that individuals are mobilised with proper adaptation measures for a swift response to the impacts.

We call on our church leaders to utilize God’s mission of justice to influence meaningful and long term change in its people. We encourage ministers to not only be a prophetic voice to its people but also provide practical and pastoral accompaniment in disaster risk reduction and management. As christians we are given the role as stewards to care for and safeguard our environment, we therefore recognize the importance faith and spirituality plays in creating a shift from a human centric to a life affirming approach.

We encourage our community leaders to promote the fundamental principle of inclusivity in its climate related activities, ensuring equal representation amongst men, women, youth and children. We believe that every voice matters in our fight towards climate justice, this crisis affects each person and the diverse representation in spaces allows for individuals to feel empowered, as a result strengthening the collective action and solidarity of your community.

Lastly, we call on our youths to be the most ambitious in our collective effort to achieve climate justice for all. Young people are able to reimagine the world with the determination, innovation and courage to disrupt and dismantle systems. Therefore, we recognize that the centrality of the role of young people opens the door for more robust and comprehensive collective efforts for meaning and effective change.

As a collective effort to ensure a secured future for our Pacific, we believe that in order to build from the past and move forward as a region we must place our Pacific way of living at the centre of our foundation. We strongly call our region to centre our Pacific values at the core of our climate activism, guided by a sense of justice and compassion that is able to reweave a narrative that not only gives meaning and coherence but provides a life affirming vision that puts the wellbeing and security of our people first.

As we continue to journey on our fight towards climate justice, may we be able to unite and stand in solidarity with the other to ensure that no one is left behind.

(Text drafted by Lemaima Va’ai)