The WSCF AP Student Empowerment for Transformation (SET) Program was organized last November 28 to December 8, 2010 at the EISD, Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Program was hosted by SCM Sri Lanka on the theme, “Climate Justice: Young people working towards establishing ecological justice in the world’s globalization process.” The program was attended by 20 participants and staff from the different movements in Asia-Pacific. The Program was also held back-to-back with the Ecumenical Assistance Program (EAP) Training, led by the Inter-regional Office.
The participants for the SET Program were; Ms. D. Nin Bawk Maw from Myanmar; Mr. Rajesh Rai from Nepal; Ms. Chrisida Nithyakalyani Ananda and Mr. Paulus Topno from India; Mr. Ballantyne Neill Harrold from Aotearoa/New Zealand; Ms. Tsoi Sze Ki Christine from Hong Kong; Ms. Chiu Min Yu and Mr. Wu Chi Te from Taiwan; Mr. Marcelino Monteiro from Timor Leste; Mr. Roy Lemon from Bangladesh; Ms. Sara Shafique from Pakistan; Mr. Poramet Charoynoot from Thailand; Mr. Choi Jin Wook from Korea, Ms. Annamale Thamilvane and Ms. Helen Saha Bandu from Sri Lanka. They were joined by Mr. Immanuel Kitnan, Mr. Mr. Timothy Kumarathunga, host committee members, Ms. Hanna Satlow and Christine Housel from WSCF Geneva office, Ms. Necta Montes and Sunita Suna from WSCF AP office.
The goal of the SET Program was to strengthen student witness and response to the issues brought about by the growing destruction of the environment and organize affirmative response through the SET Program among youth and student in Asia and the Pacific. The SET therefore aims to achieve the following objectives: To raise the level of awareness of young people from the schools in the Asia-Pacific on the issue of environmental protection and climate justice; To mobilize young people in their communities to implement at least three (3) affirmative actions and projects that will respond to concrete needs and problems in their local communities on climate change and environmental protection; To learn and experience eco-friendly practices during the SET Program that would enable participants to understand theoretical concepts with actual practice and encourage young people to promote these practices in their own communities; To gather support from the local communities, NGO’s and environmental groups to support and engage young people to protect the environment.
The Resource persons invited were Bishop Duleep Chikera, who provided a theological reflection and Bible Study on Ecological Justice, Dr. Evangeline Rajkumar, who led a Bible Study on Ecofeminism, Mr. Pradid Saha on Climate Justice and the global situation, Mr. Thulak Kariyawasan on the Sri Lanka environmental situation.
Bishop Chikera led two sessions for program. In his first session, he provided the biblical and theological basis of why Christians should be concerned and be involved in ecological justice. He began by explaining the relationship of God to nature, nature to human, and the cycle that exists between the 3. He said that humans destroyed the relationship between nature and themselves, therefore destroying the cycle. The work for ecological justice therefore means restoring these broken relationships. In Bishop’s Chikera’s presentation, (1) Apologizing, rich to poor, people to the Earth; (2) Address poverty; (3) population control; (4) responsibility by the future generation; (5); learn simplicity and content from the Indigenous people and the poor; (6) restrictive environmental standards; (7) trust in God’s ecological provisions. At the end of his presentation, he asked the group to answer two questions: What Christian teachings and attitude prevents us from interpreting Global Warming as a Global warming from God? And, Recommend an action plan for your local churches/SCMs that will support ecological justice. Finally, he reminded everyone of the 5R’s, to repent, return, recycle, reuse and refuse.
Mr. Pradip Saha from India gave a very succinct presentation called, “Climate Justice in an Unjust World.” He first discussed the meaning of Justice from the different disciplines, from the concept of Human Justice or Social Justice of Left Politics origin to Justice to All life forms from the faith and religious groups, which is synonymous to Ecological Justice. He further explained the “Climate Change is not a new or another problem, it is an aggregate effect of all the wrong things we have done the last 120 years, of which the effect is Ecological Crisis.” He also stressed that the cause is purely economics, stemming from political economy and spiritual decay. He proceeded by tracing the historical root cause of the Ecological Crisis beginning with the Industrial Revolution, burning of fossil fuel and deforestation. It means maximizing the use of nature, transforming nature into products and services, creating astronomical demands for these products, selling them, creating surplus and reinvesting again. Nature/Ecology is kept external to this cycle of the economy. He adds that profit, propelled by the Capitalist Economic System is the driving force behind this cycle and it is a human construct. In order to gain more profits, it need to make higher revenue, to reduce cost, to devalue or undervalue nature, to create incentive for overuse and the result is ECOLOGICAL CRISIS. Profit is also not shared by all because access to resources is not shared by all either, this results to the unequal share of atmosphere, which means that the ecological space (which is common to all) is dominated by the Northern developed countries, while the developing countries gets very little of the ecological space.
He explained the scientific and technical manifestation of the ecological crisis thru climate change and its political economy, largely represented by 5% C increase of the global temperature since the last ice-age, of which a big percent occurred from 1900’s onwards and a sharp increase in 1950’s due to the increase of fossil fuel CO2 emission at the peak of the Industrial Revolution. Scientist also predicted that with the current rate of rise in temperature the average temperature by 1950 will be between 3% to 5% C. According to scientist the acceptable level of increase is 2% C, which means 85% reduction of CO2 emission from the current rate. It was in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro that UN began to globalize environmental governance. In explaining the politics of climate change, he explained that the absolute value of emission of a country is not important for climate negotiation because the atmosphere is global common and needs to be shared by all humans equally. All people have equal entitlement to emit. In the known studies, the developing countries emits the most CO2, primarily the (1) US, (2) Australia, (3) Canada, (5) The Netherlands, (6) Germany, (7) Russia, (8) UK, Japan, South Africa. In total however, three countries represents 42.07%, these are the US (21.13%), UK (16.58%) and Japan (4.36%) He further explains the technical languages and negotiations done at the UN level on how and where the reductions should be made based on the GDP and CO2 emission. The Kyoto Protocol in 1997 divided the world into 2, for the developed (A1 or Annex 1) and the developing/underdeveloped countries (NA2 or Non Annex 1). In general, the Kyoto Protocol 1997 was agreed in principle with equity and justice. The A1 will undertake massive emission reduction and will help NA1 to reach low carbon economy thru financial transfer and technological transfer.
He explained that the climate cannot wait for all these negotiations at the UN and cannot follow the human logic, drastic change and action is needed now. He also adds that since the Kyoto Protocol 1997, developing countries have not made changes in their commitments but intensified the problems. Science tells us the gravity and impact of the situation. Rainfall has less numbers of days, but more intense causing surges and flooding. Rain is shifting from June to Aug and from north east to west, disturbing food and agricultural production in serious ways.
Wind pattern changing, creating abnormal heat wave and late monsoon and the worst effect is glaciers are receding. Initially there will be floods and later, there will be no water due to drought. The rising sea level has submerged small islands the different parts of the world.
Two Exposure areas were organized in two different places, the first was in Matale, the central hilly region of Sri Lanka and second was Chilaw, the western sea-side area. In Matale, the group met and visited an NGO running an environmentally friendly farm using organic materials and providing employment to the community. At Chilaw, the group visited the Coconut Research Institute and a prawn farm near the lake to observe how the lake is gradually being destroyed by the negative effects of the prawn farming.