Christian Aid is an NGO that, since the end of World War II, has been committed to respond to the plight of displaced people and refugees. This week, it published a report, Human tide: the real migration crisis, drawing our attention to the fact that by 2050 and as a consequence of global climate change, the number of the already existing 165.000.000 displaced people (refugees and IDPs), may well swell with an additional 1.000.000.000 people, mostly living in poor countries. Inevitably, this will exacerbate existing violent conflicts and lead to new ones.
Churches and their theologians may play an important role in how we will deal with this crisis. It will be necessary to prepare for crisis responses, but in a wider perspective we should also focus on capacity building to cope with the coming climate changes particularly in the poorest countries that are bound to suffer most. Moreover, there is the urgent need for serious changes in lifestyle so as to mitigate human induced climate changes (e.g. by controling our CO2 emissions) and for global life together that takes as a perspective dignified and sustainable life for all. This also means to structure our worldwide life together in such a way that special attention is paid to the poorest.
Theologians have the responsibility to stimulate and foster frames of reference that allow us to see human life from the vantage point of sustainable life for all of us and for creation as a whole. People need such frames to help them to envision and to cope with the ongoing global environmental crisis without giving in to despair; they also need encouragement to make important changes in their lifestyles and habits. Another task for theologians is to become convenors in the transdisciplinary effort to tackle the climate changes in their connection with development worldwide.
A summary of the report is available on the ENS website.