Rio +20 Statement

On the eve of the United Nations Rio+20 Conference (June 20-22) church leaders are calling for action on sustainable development now to protect future generations.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has recorded a video message in advance of the conference on Sustainable Development and asks “What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?”

The CofE’s diocesan environment officers have issued a public statement “at a time of immense and grave challenge” following last week’s national conference in Bristol.

“We urge the church to re-engage with God’s Creation at a time of immense and grave challenge.  We remind ourselves of the need to act humbly but fairly in living more lightly on the earth as we face increasing poverty, inequality and environmental destruction.  These days we recall the huge pressures on the planet – climate change, growing population linked to unsustainable economic growth, damage to ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, amongst others – and re-affirm that our biblical heritage pushes us towards radical action to care about the whole created world and to share more equitably the resources God offers to all life.

“We echo the recent words of the Ecumenical Patriarch, that ‘the world is a sacred place, as well as our home’ and urge the church to develop partnerships of action with others to continue to address these pressing issues.

“Indeed, some of us recognise that our Christian communities are called to be “counter cultural in our challenge to the current creed of everlasting growth” (Bishop James Jones) that prompts the greed which is driving untold harm to the Earth’s resource base. We cannot sustain current aspirations to infinite economic gain on a finite planet.

“It is clear that vulnerable communities are already experiencing displacement and death and future generations will be facing immense challenges. It is vital that world leaders at Rio take action now if the growing threats to the planet’s ecology are to be halted and reversed and we move towards a more environmentally sustainable society.”

David Shreeve, the Church of England’s national environment adviser said: “Our DEOs are at the front line putting the Church of England’s environmental commitments into action.  With the encouragement of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Rio message, DEO’s are looking to their churches and dioceses to support their role in developing and supporting local awareness and action.”