I often have guest bloggers on my site. Here is one by Dr. Lucas Andrianos who is a member of the WCC Working Group on Climate Change. He is doing exciting things in Crete. Enjoy this guest post.
The Orthodox Academy of Crete (OAC ) and The World Council of Churches (WCC) in Madagascar for the 2nd SAPREJ project : A pilgrimage and advocacy for the poverty reduction and ecological justice in Africa.
Few weeks ago ( April 28 – May 02 ) the second international conference on “Sustainable Alternatives for Poverty reduction and Ecological Justice” ( SAPREJ) organized by the Institute of Theology and ecology of the Orthodox Academy of Crete in collaboration with the World Council of Churches was held in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Madagascar is among the poorest countries in the world. Poverty has increased and deepened substantially over the last two and a half decades, with real per capita income having decreased by 40 percent between 1971 and 1991. The poverty assessment for Madagascar estimates that 70 percent of the population can be defined as being poor and 59 percent as being extremely poor. Almost 80 percent of the rural populations are poor compared with almost 50 percent of the urban population. As a result, 86 percent of the poor and 88 percent of the extremely poor live in rural areas. Poverty is also deeper in rural areas than in urban areas with an unemployment rate of about 80 %.
In the light of the call for pilgrimage of peace and Justice after the last 10th Assembly of the World Council of Curches in Busan, the conference was meant to bring a message of hope and solidarity to the needy and marginalized communities. This 2nd SAPREJ conference was initiated by Dr. Lucas Andrianos, in charge of the Institute of Theology and Ecology of the OAC , who comes originally from Madagascar. About twenty five proposals from a dozen of countries (Canada, Germany, Greece, Fiji, Qatar, USA, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Algeria, The Netherlands, and Madagascar) were collected and there were about thirty five participants following the conference during four days, most of them young students, policy makers, church leaders and academicians. The Local Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church of Madagascar, the Bishop Msgr. Ignatius blessed the conference and the participants had the opportunity to visit the social center of Orthodoxy mission in Madagascar.
Six international keynote speakers have contributed to the conference: Lesya Sabada from the Saskatchewan University in Canada; Eberhard Weber from the University of South Pacific in Fiji; Rev. Grace Lubaale from the Lutheran Church of Uganda; Linda Turner from the United Church of Canada in Vancouver; Diana Woodcock from the Commonwealth University of Qatar; and Lucas Andrianos from the Orthodox Academy of Crete. Specifically, the conference studied the power of forgiveness and its role in fighting poverty and protecting the environment. The Black continent suffered a lot from destructive exploitation of natural resources during the colonial period. Following the report of the Malagasy newspaper “Taratra” on the results of the conference, the time has come for forgiveness and justice in the Gobal South. Africa is a very rich continent in all areas and it is imperative that the Africans stand on its feet by itself. The fight against poverty in Africa should be based on mutual collaboration, building peace and forging justice for an economy of Life and sustainable development.
It is the first time that the OAC and the WCC organized an international conference in Madagascar where the conference delegates experienced a life sharing among the poor. They met with some representatives of the government, churches and social bodies from different faith denominations. The conference participants visited also some rural areas and natural reserves where the beauty of God’s creation is truly a miraculous gift of God, like the lemurs of Madagascar and the avenue of Baobab endemic giant trees which has been classified as one of the top ten natural wonders of the World (that one’s should see in his lifetime) (photo).
Madagascar and the global south in general continue to send a call for justice and mutual collaboration with the global north. The Orthodox Academy of Crete and the Orthodox mission in Madagascar committed to continue their activities in Madagascar. Dr Andrianos expressed his gratitude to the support of the World Council of Churches and pledged the responsible for the “Care of Creation” programme, Dr. Guillermo Kerber, to continue his commitment for pilgrimage of Justice and peace in Africa. As an outcome of the conference, the participants recommended that it is time to transform the SAPREJ project into a non-profit Foundation for implementing WCC advocacy for economic and climate justice. They call the WCC to support the next SAPREJ conference which is scheduled to be held in Uganda in 2016!
Lucas Andrianos (Luc Aurelien Andriantiatsaholiniaina) he received his PhD. from the Technical University of Crete at Department of Production Engineering and Management, specialization in Environmental sciences and Sustainable Development. Right after his Ph.D. degree, he went to Canada to work as postdoctoral researcher at the Department of “Engineering Science and Telecommunications” of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver BC. Since 2006, he has been hired by the Foundation for Research and technology Hellas to undertake the head of the institute of Theology and Ecology at the Orthodox Academy of Crete (OAC). He is the founder and editor of series of environmental books on “Ecological Theology and Environmental Ethics” (ECOTHEE), “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Wild Plant Diversity” (CSUWPD) and “Sustainable Alternatives for Poverty Reduction and Ecological Justice” (SAPREJ).
Since 2011, he has been collaborating with the World Council of Churches as sustainability consultant for the Greed Line study (http://greedline.webs.com) and Climate justice (http://ithe.webs.com) within the framework of the “Poverty, Wealth and Ecology” diakonia (www.oikomene.org). With the support of the WCC, he had just organized the second international conference on “Sustainable Alternatives for Poverty Reduction and Ecological Justice” in Madagascar (http://saprej2014madagascar.webs.com) in April 2014 and he will be organizing the forth “Ecological Theology and Environmental Ethics” (ECOTHEE) conference at the Orthodox Academy of Crete in 2015.