Participants of the Eco-Justice consultation in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“To uplift the suffering people in Asia, a just and peaceful world has to be created, so Christians in Asia have to work for sustainable development,” Tomoko Arakawa, Director of the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Japan said in a thematic address on Eco-Justice and Transformational Development at an international consultation organised by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA).
“Eco-Justice is not merely concerned with ecology or the environment alone, it is, in fact, a crucial factor interlinked to issues of hunger, poverty, sustainability of natural resources, production of energy and its appropriate use, economic development, equitable distributions of wealth, debt relief, fair trade and environmental safety,” said Tomoko Arakawa.
Organised and facilitated by the CCA, in collaboration with the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) and the Korean Christian Forum on Life-Giving Agriculture (KLGAF), on the theme, ‘Eco-Justice: Towards Sustainable Development and Food Security in Asia’ about 60 participants, theologians, church workers, Eco-Justice advocates and representatives of churches and ecumenical organisations from different Asian countries attended the consultation, held in Chiang Mai from 29 November to 2 December 2016.
“Christian duties are parallel to sustainable development. God wants us to be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and nurture and nourish it,” Rev. Rein Justin Gultom from the Community Development Bureau in HKBP, Indonesia said in thematic presentation on Eco-Justice.
Dr. Abram J. Bicksler, Director of the ECHO Asia impact Center said, “God is calling the Church to be the redemptive factor in sustaining his creation; this is a call to all developing countries in Asia to prioritise food security over trade.”
While speaking about Life-Giving Agriculture (LGA), Rev. Han Kyeong Ho, president of the Korean Christian Life-Giving Agriculture Forum (KCLGAF) said, “LGA is a movement of the people and a way of life that relates to livelihoods. The land, forest and water are gifts of God to all on earth. LGA is a living philosophy based on theology of life. It is a life enhancing process grounded in faith and nurtured in a culture of sharing, caring and loving. LGA is diverse yet holistic, participatory, non-exploitative and builds equity (gender), respect, dignity and justice.”
Stressing upon the need for healthy rural communities and healthy rural churches, Dr. Rev. Chung Ho Jin, former president and the honorary president of the international NGO Life World spoke about the process and practice of Life-Giving Agriculture, detailing six methods that exclude hazardous synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, mechanical tilling, plastic covers and GMO seeds.
Sharing their experiences and perspectives on Eco-Justice, participants observed that Asia is rapidly developing, yet, almost one billion chronically hungry people in the world are from Asia. Hence, churches in Asia have a responsibility to place Eco-Justice literacy as a priority concern, which will contribute in developing an ethic of protecting God’s creation and building peace with justice in God’s Oikos.
Other issues and themes addressed in various sessions included the linkage among poverty, wealth, and Nature; current food security situation in Asia; environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainability and Eco-Justice; climate change; globalisation and its impact; unemployment and the quality of life; political economy and poverty; food contamination; as well as organic and Eco-Just farming.
The Christian theology of creation and the responsibility of human beings in the divine plan for sustaining peace and harmony in God’s household was another major focus of the consultation.
The consultation concluded with a two-day field visit and immersion to the Mae Hang Village in the Lamphang province, where the participants tilled land at a farm in an ethnic minority Karen village.