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PACSA - AGEH International Consultation on Re-thinking development practice as global solidarity

Mervyn Abrahams PACSA and Michael Steeb AGEH welcome participants to the consultation
26 participants from 12 countries gathered for a 4 day consultation hosted by PACSA and AGEH, a German Association for Development Cooperation, in Paarl, outside Cape Town, to re-think development as liberation and to promote an alliance of international faith based and Church related organizations promoting exchange of volunteers as an expression of human solidarity.
In welcoming the participants to the consultation, Michael Steeb (AGEH) and Mervyn Abrahams (PACSA) expressed the hope that the consultation will spark new ideas and possible action for a renewed effort in working towards the global common good. This is particularly critical due to the global crisis we face. The global situation could be outlined as:
• An extremely dangerous climate change and the destruction of our vital resources to a degree unparalleled in the history of humankind
• A collapse of social structures and states, leading to upheaval, war and loss of human security
• A continued weakening – or even collapse – of international cooperation and institutions and a deliberate weakening of the UN and its sub-organisations, as well as the undermining of international agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement
• A technological shift and digitisation which, while also offering opportunities, harbours incalculable risks for people in its fusion of man and machine

We cannot be indifferent to what is currently happening in and to “our common home” and those who live there. In response to these crises we have to re-think social, economic and political relationships:
• Rather than development – Liberation - liberation of the entire person
• It is about creating relationships of reciprocity that advances dignity
• It is supporting those on the periphery of power and access to claim their power to think, speak, plan, and act as human persons with dignity.
• Not poverty – which stigmatizes the victim – but the relationality between wealth and poverty and who has power

The discussions stressed the importance of people’s agency in resolving local problems while simultaneously challenging and resisting the technological paradigm that de-humanises liberatory processes. Identifying where people are struggling for a better world for themselves and others could assist in us connecting to these struggles. In this context the human act of volunteering as a service to the world could become an important expression of human solidarity and create encounters between people as well as connection between the global south and the global north.

The consultation afforded PACSA the opportunity to make important connections at a global level and the possibility for further common action on an agenda shaped by a global common good in the interest of people, especially the poor, and the global environment. The consultation adopted the statement by Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si that the cry of the poor is interconnected to the cry of the earth. See Laudato Si at https://laudatosi.com/watch
Participants at the consultation came from 12 countries
Dr Ingebord Tiemann