Lutheran youth delegate calls for urgent climate action

Plenary at the conference in Nairobi entitled ‘Laudato Si’ Generation: Young People Caring for our Common Home’ Photo: Helmut Fluhrer

Young German environmental activist joins ecumenical and interfaith participants at Laudato Si’ conference in Kenya

(LWI) - Listen to young people and take seriously their concerns about the crisis facing our common home! That was the urgent appeal relayed to religious and political leaders taking part in an environmental conference in Kenya this week by a young member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany (ELCNG).

Helena Funk is part of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Youth Working Group for Climate Justice. She was a member of LWF’s delegations to the COP23 and COP24 climate summits in Bonn and Katowice.

On 15 July, she was part of a panel of young climate activists from different regions of the world attending a conference in Nairobi hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme and jointly organized by the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) and the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development (DPIHD). The two-day ecumenical and interfaith gathering was entitled ‘Laudato Si’ Generation: Young People Caring for our Common Home’.

In her presentation, Funk recalled the words and actions of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who initiated a weekly school strike for climate action. The #FridaysForFuture movement has spread to 125 countries, where close to 1.5 million young people have taken to the streets to urge governments, organizations and individuals to do more to curb global warming.

Emphasizing the vital role of churches and faith-based organizations, Funk stressed that climate justice is an international and intergenerational issue “where we all have to cooperate and contribute our share, [….] making radical changes now, drafting new ways of being, of consuming, of our relation to nature.” Her words reflect one of the LWF’s strategic priorities of promoting human dignity, justice and peace through climate advocacy, education and action, alongside its commitment to ensure youth participation at all levels.

Furthermore, Funk said, it requires greater interfaith cooperation as all people of faith hear the call to care for God’s creation. “It is time to emphasize our common interest rather than be separated,” Funk said. “No borders, no limits, but working and longing for a common home together.” 

While solutions may vary on different continents and in different nations contexts, Funk concluded, young people must be strong and continue to make their voices heard, loudly and clearly. “We are in drastic times - we need drastic measures!” she said. “Let us be the progress that is overdue.”

We can make a difference - Helena Funk on climate justice from Lutheran World Federation on Vimeo.