Brazilian Lutherans Promoting a Sustainable Future
GENEVA, 16 July 2012 (WCC/LWI) – Raquel Kleber spent an intense week in June at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as “Rio+20.”
In Rio, Kleber, an international affairs student and member of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, highlighted the accomplishments of “Criatitude”, a national educational project that encourages Lutheran Christians and others to use creative attitudes in promoting sustainability and eco-justice. Along with other young people, she shared observations about the project at the interreligious space designated as “Religions for Rights.”
The outcomes of Rio+20–which environmental and social justice advocates worldwide agreed lacked detail and ambition–were a disappointment to Kleber and many others. But Kleber is using her experience at Rio+20 as fuel for turning political inaction into local action.
“Yes, Rio+20 disappointed us,” she said. “But the youth of Criatitude hold in their hands the hope and the power to make a difference and truly shape the future we want. The 40 young people of Criatitude are truly inspired to implement local eco-justice projects.”
Kleber has become an eco-justice leader among her peers, and constantly works to expand her knowledge.
In May, before attending Rio+20, she participated in “green&just,” a virtual conference organized by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The virtual conference presented speakers in real time on the internet, with the opportunity for conference participants to ask questions using text chat.
Kleber also has built on knowledge she gained at Youth for Eco-Justice, a 2011 event planned jointly by the LWF and the World Council of Churches (WCC).
After two weeks of training on the theology and politics of ecological justice, Kleber was among the Christian youth participants who pledged to start, in their own contexts, initiatives to promote the new understandings they acquired.
“The capacity building provided by the WCC and the LWF was decisive for the implementation of this project,” said Kleber.
The WCC work on eco-justice is implemented through its Ecumenical Water Network, the Caring for Creation and Climate Justice project and the Poverty, Wealth and Ecology project.
Images of Water Justice
Marcelo Leites, regional secretary of the World Student Christian Federation in Latin America and the Caribbean, is another young person who strives to have a local impact in the eco-justice arena.
Leites has been involved in broad-based, long-term eco-justice projects that aim to strengthen the ecumenical movement, youth leadership and social organizations in Latin America on environmental justice issues. At Rio+20, he displayed a photography exhibit titled “Accion Creacion” that depicted an array of riveting scenes related to water justice.
“The exhibition highlights local issues by telling the stories of communities that, every day, are living with the effects of water injustice,” said Leites.
The exhibition will be displayed in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. “We are providing a space in which civil society can participate in arts and advocacy initiatives that hundreds of young people have done as they illustrate the water justice issues facing their communities,” said Leites.
Leites, like Kleber, participated in the Youth for Eco-Justice training in 2011 and said that the experience was a turning point for him as he conceptualized and created the framework for his eco-justice efforts.
“The input I received from the WCC and the LWF was inspiring,” he said. “In addition, I learned to effectively plan the process from the beginning, and my training continues to impact my progress at the local level.” (586 words)
A contribution by Susan Kim for WCC News