May 3, 2013
United Nations Development Programme
Hamburg—Faith-based organizations are playing a crucial role in efforts to build a more equitable and sustainable future, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark told a Protestant conference here.
“Many faith-based groups and leaders are already part of the drive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, foster peace and reconciliation, and advocate for climate action,” she said, speaking alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the 34th Kirchentag—founded in 1949 as a movement for Protestant lay people.
“Faith-based organizations and gatherings such as the Kirchentag have an important role to play in reminding us to focus on what really matters to us as human beings in search of well-being.”
“Never before have the bonds between us as citizen of one planet mattered so much, and we face transnational challenges which cannot be resolved by each country acting alone,” she said. “The greatest of these challenges lie in the environmental sphere where the consequences of the way we have developed can be seen in significant ecosystem degradation.”
She cited a new awareness worldwide that moving to sustainable development is overdue, but challenges remain in converting good intentions into concrete action.
“We have to believe that just as the decisions and actions of humankind have brought us to where we are today, so we are also capable of making development work for both the planet and its peoples,” she said.
“Leadership and vision at every level—including from faith and civil society organizations of our world—can help us build a more equitable and sustainable common future.”
Helen Clark noted that while Germany had developed with a heavy carbon footprint, it has become a leader in transitioning to sustainable energy. Its renewable energy sources doubled from 2006-2012, she said.
“This suggests to me that with bold leadership and farsighted policies, countries can make the transitions required to become more sustainable,” she said.
“Poor people and poor countries are disproportionately vulnerable to global warming, thought they have contributed little to the problem. That is unjust,” she said.
“I do believe that the developed world has a particular historical responsibility to tackle climate change. It should radically reduce its own emissions of greenhouse gases, and it should also strongly support poor countries to strengthen their resilience to a more erratic climate and pursue low emissions development.”
UNDP works through its teams in 135 developing countries to help them build capacity to integrate environmental considerations into development plans and strategies, establish effective partnerships, secure resources, and implement programmes to support sustainable, low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathways.