One World Week's annual theme
One World Week has always chosen an annual theme on which to focus events. For the last few years that theme has been chosen with reference to that of the EU Global Education Network's North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, which takes place in the third week in November. Their overarching theme from 2020 has been
"It's our world. Let's TAKE ACTION!"
That offers a wide range of options from which to choose a more specific focus. For example, in 2022, OWW reviewed the outcomes of COP 26, and encouraged OWW supporters to continue campaigning alongside other organisations on the subject of Climate Change, and to work with local communities to understand what they can do. The Great Big Green Week was a great opportunity to work with other local organisations. In 2023 it will be in June (10th - 18th)
Other traditional OWW topics, which were especially relevant in 2022, in light of the conflict in Ukraine, were peace and refugees. The Take Action pages, here, suggest organisations you might want to work with - many have local groups or representatives.
In the absence of national OWW guidelines, from 2023 onwards, you can check the Global Education Week's theme; see if Global Dimension or the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) have a particular take on the GEW theme; or you can choose to put on a OWW event on a topic that seems particularly relevant to you and your community.
For inspiration take a look at past OWW themes: Leaflets were produced about the themes up to and including 2019, which can be accessed from the Resource library: Theme and Guidelines.
2021 - Act Now For Our Children's World
2020 - It's Our World - Let's Make It Better
2019 - Climate Changes Everything - Now is the time to act
2018 - The World is Changing - How about us?
2017 - GOOD NEIGHBOURS - My World Depends On Us
2016 - INCLUDING YOU - Working Together for One World in Peace
2015 - HOPE in ACTION - Inspiring a culture of hope to build a more equal and peaceful world."
2014 - LIVING DIFFERENTLY - Breaking chains – making change!
2013 - MORE THAN ENOUGH?
2012 - SHARING DESTINY - Moving Towards One World
On the rest of this page is a review and summary of the guidelines for the themes for 2021, 2020 and 2019:
The Theme for OWW 2021 was: "Act Now For Our Children's World"
One World Week occurred just before the COP26 United Nations Climate Summit, took place in Glasgow in November 2021, (postponed from 2020). Britain hosted this Conference which was attended by national leaders and delegations from around the world. The aim was to build on the 2015 Paris Agreement with more ambitious commitments and measures to reduce carbon emissions and stop futher climate change - so that all our children and future generations would be able to enjoy a future in a sustainable world. The children themselves, inspired by Greta Thunberg, understood the urgency and had been pressing the adults to get on with it!
This was a big moment - to still keep climate change in check - just - IF we acted right away. To wait any longer might be too late.
The outcomes fell far short of what we had hoped for and what the planet needs. In particular, the funds promised 10 years ago to help developing countries on the front line of climate change, which was not of their making, to recoup the loss and damage caused by climate change were postponed again and promises fell short of what was needed.
The most recent report (February 2022) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world had only a narrow chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and was falling far behind on making the changes needed to transform the global economy to a low-carbon footing.
Exceeding 1.5C was now “almost inevitable”, but it was just possible that might be temporary and temperatures could be returned to 1.5C by the end of this century if countries reduced greenhouse gas emissions drastically this decade.
The world was planning far too many new fossil fuel installations to stay within the carbon budgets needed to meet the 1.5C goal. The IPCC made it clear that the only realistic scenarios for keeping within 1.5C in the long term involved effectively phasing out coal use.
The IPCC stressed the need to preserve the world’s existing forests, peatlands and other natural carbon stores and to grow new forests and restore soils and landscapes.
The Climate Coalition, of which OWW was a member, had pubished a report card on the UK Government's progress so far on combatting climate change - you can read it here.
As in 2021, OWW supporters were encouraged not to wait for OWW but to work with other groups in their local communities to rally support for our own nation to set an example to adopt more ambitious targets and time scales and, critically, put in place measures to achieve them.
OWW was working with The Climate Coalition (of which we were a member) to:
- raise the awareness of individuals and communities of what is at stake for our children's future,
- build individual and community commitment to a greener healthy lifestyle,
- inspire and stimulate support for far reaching and timely Government Action to build a cleaner, healthier, fairer, green economy and work with others around the world to achieve a sustainable planet.
What did school children think?
Hear their voices in this short video: https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/school-radio/assemblies-ks1-ks2-climate-change-global-warming/zbgxjsg The video starts with a young presenter explaining how she learnt about climate change and how she feels about it. We then hear from other children, attempting to answer a variety of questions.
No one is too small to make a difference - see Eco Action Families' new video on #TheRippleEffect
A survey (4 - 5th January 2021) commissioned by The Climate Coalition,(all figures from YouGov Plc) whose other members include Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Islamic Relief UK, the RSPB, WWF, National Trust, Oxfam and Women’s Institute, had found that two-thirds (65%) of adults in the UK believed the British Government should do more to combat climate change, up from just over half (57%) in 2017.
Climate Outreach, which specialises in communicating to different audiences, had found that most people were concerned about climate change though their concerns might be different. Understanding their specific concerns and values makes having a useful conversation easier and more productive. See useful webinar "Britain Talks Climate" here; and a recent one on "Engaging the public on COP26" - recording here, where you can find out more.
Public support for tackling climate change was high - almost a third of Britons (29%) admitted to feeling more worried about climate change then than they had been the previous year, compared with 15% who feltl less worried. Only 17% of respondents considered climate change to be an issue of low importance, while 47% said it was of high importance. So there was still work to be done to convince people of the seriousness and urgency to tackle climate change.
OWW urged supporters to "Act now - don't wait for OWW!"
N.B. - Many of the resources produced for previous year's OWW continued to be relevant.
New resources in 2021 included:
See the Resources for Young People for a collection of resources for Teaching about Climate Change in preparation for the COP 26 - it included exiting new programmes for 2021 and support for teachers to help them meet student demands for learning how to cope with their challenging future. (added April 2021)
Faith Resources - 'Useful Green Websites for Faith Groups 2021' - Some exciting new websites including some relating to the COP26 and one is a Climate Emergency Toolkit for Churches, also included was an update of the 2019 version (added May 2021)
The theme for OWW 2020 was:
"It's Our World - Let's Make It Better"
How to deliver OWW events and activities during the continuing Corona19 pandemic when holding physical events indoors was not feasible?
We produced a leaflet with suggestions for virtual events, and other ways of communicating the theme (download from the Resources library here.)
We also produced a leaflet for teachers, "Schools OWW leaflet 2020" which can be downloaded from the Young People's Resource Library - here
We also considered the role OWW might play in the new scenario that was unfolding.
We appealed for any ideas supporters might have had about both these issues.
We offered resources for people to use, in discussion on-line, in Zoom meetings, by telephone, using email and social media, to gain an understanding of how people worldwide were being affected by the illness, its economic impacts and what needed to be done.
Communicating climate change during the Coronavirus crisis
There are opportunities and pitfalls in talking to people about change in a time of crisis, when their experiences vary and sensitivities are heightened. The evidence was explored by Climate Outreach in a webinar on May 21st - see a video of it here
Looking to the future
As we gradually emerged from the pandemic and our shattered economy there was an urgent need to reconstruct our economy and society. This provided a rare opportunity to break with past old normal which was destroying our planet and to build a green recovery into a new sustainable normal. There was no shortage of ideas about how to do this and our Take Action pages provided links to our 'partners' and others' ideas and campaigns for building back better.
We compiled resources to help us consider how we could make the world better personally, as communities, and as national and global citizens.
The resources included articles, poems, websites, webinars, videos, cartoons and actions which explored our understanding of the impact of the pandemic for better or worse. Some were available in the resources offered for previous One World Weeks; others were new, published in 2020 since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
This poem reflects on some of the responses to the crisis:
“And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games,
and learned new ways of being and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
Kitty O’Meara, March 2020
Making things better
What was also already evident was that many people were also taking action, not just pausing and meditating, but responding to the needs of the isolated and vulnerable by volunteering to help in the community. (We asked if anyone would like to add a couple of lines to the poem above?)
Governments, too, had taken unprecedented actions to support the economically vulnerable, businesses and those made destitute by the loss of income that the emergency had caused.
A thought-provoking article in the Guardian on 7th April, by Rachel Solnit, "The impossible has already happened: what coronavirus can teach us about hope." (read it here), reviewed how economic measures previously considered impossible had been initiated - on a temporary basis, maybe, but never again to be deemed "impossible".
Examples included: factories switching production to things we needed urgently; providing a basic income for the unemployed; housing the homeless so they could isolate; cutting traffic pollution. Daniel Boffey, (Guardian, 9th April) reported that Amsterdam had plans to switch to a 'doughnut economy' (here and search this website's Resources pages for 'Doughnut Economics').
The pandemic underlined how vital it was that we thought and acted as one world. We needed to help countries less able to cope not only for humanitarian reasons but because we could not combat the virus successfully solely in one place or nation - we had to do it worldwide, together, inclusively with everyone, or it might recur. See article by UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.
A number of the organisations we worked with were focussing on the global dimensions of the Covid-19 pandemic and organised webinars and petitions to encourage actions needed to help developing countries cope. We suggested supporters to visit our Take Action page here to see who was doing what so they could can get involved right away.
The issues relating to climate change we addressed in 2019 were still critically important. Indeed, the emergence of the Corona Virus may have been linked to the damage our environment has suffered. In 2020 we stressed the need to continue to focus on the urgency to act to limit damage to the climate and to heal all our planet's natural systems in order to secure a future for all our children. Action needed to continue and did not need to be confined to a week in October, so, as we considered how to recover from the health and economic crises we also needed to follow up on One World Week's 2019 theme and act to protect our planet which was and is, arguably, the biggest crisis of all.
The Coronavirus crisis changed the world so we would be communicating in a new context: some people were grieving; some were suffering severe economic hardship - they may not have had the capacity to engage with yet another threat. Many would have been longing to get back to a “normal” but that might not be possible or advisable anymore. Others were reflecting and supporting their communities.
In communicating issues of climate change in the aftermath of Coronavirus, Climate Outreach reviewed how best to approach these audiences. They suggested ways forward to use this opportunity to strengthen support for preparedness for crises like pandemics or climate change and for supporting those affected. This was really useful guidance – and continues to be, so please read it here.
OWW 2019 : Climate Changes Everything - Now is the time to act
During 2019, we were inspired by the 16 year old schoolgirl climate activist, Greta Thunberg, the young, and not so young, activists of Extinction Rebellion, the veteran naturalist, David Attenborough, and the scientific reports of increasingly rapid warming and ice melt to focus on the urgency for action. We emphasised that we still need to act urgently if we were to keep climate change within limits that allow the planet's systems to continue to support its diversity of plants and animals, including humans, and their projected populations.
It was becoming clear that our existing values system and associated economic system made it difficult to achieve the rapid and profound changes necessary to safeguard the future of our children. This was why "Everything needs to change - and it needs to start today" (Greta Thunberg, TED talk. See it below: [streamed from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2QxFM9y0tY ]
We appreciated that it was shocking to realise how much needed to be done and in such a short time scale. What needed to be done had been known for over 15 years, so why had it not been talked about more? Publicised more? Legislated about more?
Some progress had been made but not enough and not fast enough to avoid the serious risks posed by global warming. The science suggested that change was accelerating despite our best (?) efforts. Our children were urging us to do better.
In OWW we sought to help people acknowledge the urgency for change and offered ideas of actions they cculd take personally, as communities and as national and global citizens. It was vital that we did not drive people to despair but, instead, inspired people to act.
We recommended the "Film about important things, THE RACE IS ON - secrets and solutions of climate (2019)" (40 minutes)
We emphasised the need to inspire and involve everyone
Natasha Josette (The Independent, 21 April 2019) commented that while Extinction Rebellion had played a vital role in drawing attention to the climate crisis, not everyone felt comfortable expressing their concerns through protests that invited police arrest; "people of colour" had been conspicuous by their absence. Many felt alienated by this kind of environmental action. It was important that the movement to tackle climate change included the views and support of the widest possible sections of society, including ethnic minorities and the poor.
We felt that OWW, with its experience of bringing local people of various faiths and ethnicities together, had a particular role to play through including these communities in addressing climate crisis. In OWW, we had some success in involving them - (e.g. Chat over Chai events in Portsmouth.)
Lots of resources were added to the Resources Library in 2019 which continued to be relevant in 2020 and beyond:
the facts of global warming
- the risks posed by different levels of global warming (including the impact on migration, health, diet, species extinction)
- testimonies from around the world showing how people and ecosystems were affected and how they were responding
- groups to work with
- materials for working with Muslims
- actions to take.
Theme ideas chart (01/07/2019)
This explored various issues interrelated with climate change which could be the subject of OWW events or activities.
Now is the time to act - OWW Guidelines (20/06/2019)
A must-read for event organisers or anyone seeking to communicate the urgency for action to protect our world, this outlined the context and key ideas about the theme and contained lots of useful ideas and links.
Green Websites - word.doc (updated with additions)
a compilation of websites addressing issues of climate change from various perpectives:
- explanations of the science of climate change;
- greener Living;
- Faith Groups;
- art and creativity;
- resources for Schools;
- communicating climate change and motivating behavioural change.
Projected Impacts of Climate Change Diagram (June 2019)
This was an A4 version of the diagram in the leaflet.
Planet Doctor (14/06/2019)
This short drama (6 - 8 minutes) assesses the health of our planet as Mother Earth has a consultation with the Planet Doctor. This fun little sketch has a very serious message.
including the 2019 leaflet, and the headings, logo, quotes and images appearing in it - to help organisers publicise events and create their own resources.
Christian Worship materials (find them in the Faith Based Resource Library.) - included ideas for services ; a OWW prayer, to include in any service during the Week; and a Creation Reflection PowerPoint presentation with pledges, which could be used in the service or separately at a variety of events.
OWW Film Guide 2019 Edition. (PDF and PP)
Quiz about Climate Change produced by CAFOD
Here is a report of what went on in 2018 when the theme was:
The World is Changing - How about us?
“We are the first generation to know that we’re undermining the ability of the Earth system to support human development…. This is a profound new insight and it’s potentially very, very scary … This is also an enormous privilege because it means that we are the first generation to know that we now need to navigate a transformation to a globally sustainable future.”
Rockstrom, J. The Great Acceleration.
Lecture 3 in Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities. 2014
Quoted in Raworth, K. Doughnut Economics (2017) p55
At the start of the 21st century, we now know that we cannot continue to extract resources and dump waste into the ecosystems of our planet without the very real risk of a shift away from the stable conditions of the last 12,000 years in which humans developed agriculture and civilizations flourished. Since 1950, we have been pursuing a path of economic development to fuel lifestyles which have demanded a dramatic increase in the use of Earth’s resources (population x 3; GDP x 7; energy use x 4; fresh water use x 3; fertiliser x 10).
In last few years we have become aware of changes in weather patterns: extremes and irregularities in droughts and floods, melting icecaps, polluted oceans and air; dying coral reefs and a rapid rise in species extinction all indicate that human activity is destabilising Earth’s systems.
“It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change … In a single lifetime humanity has become a planetary geological force – this is a new phenomenon” (Will Steffen- 2015, a scientist who has been documenting these trends)
The surge of industrial capitalism which successfully lifted billions out of poverty, extended human lives, and connected a global community, has also fostered growing inequality leaving billions of people without their most basic needs; financial crises threaten to bankrupt businesses and whole countries. We need to change to an economic system that acknowledges that human activity depends on sustainable interactions with Earth’s systems, and has the goal, as Kate Raworth in her 2017 book, “Doughnut Economics”, puts it: to achieve human prosperity in a flourishing web of life.
And this change is beginning. The alternative goal to pursuing profits at all costs is investment in the welfare of people and the environment and choosing technologies that are kinder to the planet and its people. (Christian Felber: "Change Everything: the Economy for the Common Good")
- renewable energy offering a real and potentially planet-saving alternative to fossil fuels;
- new businesses starting up with the aim of putting the welfare of their workforce and the health of the environment before their shareholders profits;
- local currencies ensuring that local enterprises flourish;
- degraded land being transformed back into productive farmland with terraces and organic methods;
- people in run down areas of cities working together across cultural divides to build communities that meet their common needs;
- people eating less meat, growing vegetables on their roofs and underground and reducing plastic waste;
- widespread committment to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
Seeds of hope across the world are growing technologies and changing mind sets to be fit for a 21st century world.
In OWW 2018 we saw local events and dialogue in social media which recognised the difficulties humanity faces, enabling people to see alternatives which could inspire them to make changes in their own lives and support joint actions to act individually and together to achieve human prosperity in a flourishing web of life.
You can find out more about the threats to our planet's life support systems, ground breaking ideas to improve the economy and facts about progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals by downloading the resource: 'Our Changing World' which has references and links to easily accessible (and some very short) videos and articles.
We welcome your ideas, suggestions of resources and examples. We can change better together! So please contact us
You can find them on the Resources page under the THEME and GUIDELINES resources library:
more detailed discussion about interpreting the theme;
other useful resources and activities you can include in events
more details below
Making your own publicity? – You can use the images, headings etc. from the leaflet. If you are using the illustration, please credit Webber Design (www.webber-design.com).
available to download and print (enter ‘2018 leaflet’ in search box) (We do have a small printed supply for distribution at events and in mailings. Please get in touch as soon as possible if you would like some. Contact us here)
A worship anthology for 2018 and added alternative materials which you can use or adapt for a service that suits your needs for “The World Is Changing - How about us?”
The short (5-7 mins) sketch, “Planet Doctor” (found in the Worship Anthology) fits the theme perfectly and is suitable for all ages, so you could use it in all kinds of events beyond worship – a cabaret at a OWW meal? a school assembly?
A ONE WORLD SONG
Produced by Portsmouth Music Hub as part of their One World Project. Perfect for our theme - check it out on youtube here:
Scatter some of our “Let’s Talk” discussion starters around your coffee morning,
about changing the world - post these up around your event venue, to get people thinking and talking about the theme.
provoke some discussion by drawing attention to changes over the 40 years OWW has been operating.
about environmental change - people love quizzes so this could provide a focus of interest as part of your event.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have pledges available, including a set about“Plastics, Waste and Recycling”, so people can commit to make some specific changes in their lives after the event. There is a set included in the Creation Reflection many of which can be used by everyone - not just people of faith.
We have a useful guide to help you choose. (Type ‘films’ in Search Box).
MATERIALS TO USE WITH YOUNG PEOPLE
OWW is part of Global Education Week – you may be interested in seeing what’s going on around Europe and making use of some of their resources. Visit GEW’s website to explore a feast of excellent resources.
find them on the resources pages