Green Cross International Chief Operating Officer Adam Koniuszewski spoke at the 25 October ceremony announcing that the World Council of Churches (WCC) has joined the Blue Communities Project. The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians. It is committed to inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
Blue Communities brings attention to the Human Right to Water, the global water crisis, and the problem of plastic pollution.
Water is a core interest for Green Cross. Founding President Mikhail Gorbachev has long advocated for universal access to clean water, and Green Cross International has just elected renowned ocean explorer and conservationist Jean-Michel Cousteau to Chair its Board.
For Green Cross, water issues are inextricably liked to climate change and energy – a point worth emphasising now, with the start of COP22 just around the corner.
“You can’t talk about energy without talking about water, and you can’t talk about water without talking about energy,” said Koniuszewski. “I can’t stress enough the importance of the water/food/energy nexus for climate change, for the environment, for ecosystems and for life on earth.”
The WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network has been an important actor and a valuable partner for Green Cross – including in The Future We Want photo expo that was shown at the United Nations in Geneva, and will be going to Marrakesh for COP22.
Leadership from the interfaith community can be a game-changer. There is no doubt, for instance, that the 2015 Encyclical of Pope Francis provided momentum that contributed greatly towards the success of the Paris Agreement.
“This encyclical of Pope Francis (symbolises) the interfaith movement around the world engaging on environmental questions and climate change,” added Koniuszewski. “And in this document the words ‘climate change’ appear ten or twelve times – but the word ‘water’ appears forty-seven times.”
WCC Secretary-General Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said: “For the WCC, joining the Blue Communities connects very deeply with the most significant task of the WCC. Water is the most needed element for human beings. And water is a very sacred symbol in most religions. Therefore we are proud that WCC has worked on access to clean water over many years.”
Special guest speakers for the event were leading water advocate Dr Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council of Canadians and Senior Advisor on Water to the United Nations, and Dr Rajendra Singh, the ‘Water Man’ of India and Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for 2015.
Dinesh Suna, Coordinator of the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network, closed the ceremony with a call for others to be inspired and motivated to become Blue Communities as well.