Michael Mata, John Liotti and Mary Nelson recently represented CCDA at the Urban Shalom Project prelude to the UN Urban Habitat III gathering in Quito, Ecuador. The hope was to articulate the value added voice of Christians to the vision and work of just, sustainable cities at the UN Conference, a voice that has not been visible at the deliberating table. The pre-event was hosted by Dr. Chris Elisara from World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Network, and Dr. Ash Barker of International Society of Urban Mission-MICAH Global and helped us identify what we as Christians, people of faith, can bring to the UN gathering and beyond. We heard reports from South America’s Christian community efforts for the environment, and shared scripture and insights into global scenes, especially Isaiah 65’s vision of New Creation.
The majority world’s population currently lives in cities and that population will double by 2050, with 2/3 rds living in cities, making cities the crucial focus for developing sustainable, livable, diverse and equitable places to habitat. At the UN gathering, we attended workshops, networking sessions and heard how Ecuador’s government is changing the recovery efforts from the earthquake into opportunity to build a more sustainable and just community. We heard from South African activists with street people tell about creative efforts. We engaged higher education institutions on their role in equipping a new generation of leaders to implement the plans of the New Urban Agenda. A lot of energy and new vision came out of the struggling Majority world reports. We participated in a visual art effort, shaping INCLUSION with our bodies and umbrellas. There is a lot more to share.
What does this mean for CCDA? Our initial thinking includes the following: 1) We must include the wider vision of the whole City beyond our places and neighborhoods in our thinking, understanding and efforts and understand a global perspective. 2) We should hold out God’s vision of a livable, sustainable, just City (as in Isaiah 65 and Isaiah 58) in our work. 3) We need to add to our Conferences, starting in Detroit, workshops, tools and resources for greater efforts in sustainable cities (including transportation, water, greening, energy alternatives, and urban design, etc) 4) We should agree to join with the World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Network and ISUM-MICAH Global in next steps of a website, Book (Urban Shalom and the Cities we Need), and a follow up global gathering around implementing the City We Need.