The Second International Conference on Laudato Si’ was held on July 15-16, 2019 at the UN Office at Nairobi to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, and the 5th official anniversary of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA). The theme of the conference was, Laudato Si Generation: Young People Caring for our Common Home. The conference brought together around 300 participants drawn from 50 countries around the world and representing diverse religions and faiths (including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus), spiritual institutions such as the Brahma Kumaris, governments, intergovernmental entities, students, scientists, politicians, and indigenous people.
The conference was graced by representatives from the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development led by Monsignor Bruno Duffè, Secretary of the Dicastery who read the keynote message from His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson. The UN Environment’s Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Joyce Msuya was also present with other UN Environment staff. The Holy See Mission in Kenya was represented by a delegation led by His Excellency Archbishop Hubert van Megen. Youth leaders present included CYNESA’s Founder & Executive Director, Mr. Allen Ottaro.
The diverse composition of the conference delegates reflected on the status of earth, our common home particularly with regards to challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and the multifaceted intergenerational gap. The conversation was informed by recent scientific findings such as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), indigenous knowledge from Africa and the Pacific, and guided by Catholic social teaching and the teachings of other faith traditions on care for creation. This Laudato Si conference also had a special focus on Africa, which is home to many indigenous communities, rich ecosystems, one of the biggest carbon sinks in the world, and whose largest fraction of the population are youth and people of faith. Conference proceedings were quite participatory, with liturgy, short plenary inputs, speakers’ presentations, discussions of scientific reports, and group discussions.
Conference delegates discussed the urgent environmental needs and opportunities in Africa, drawing hope and lessons from success stories and best practices presented by the strategic groups present. All faiths represented agreed on the urgent need to jointly care for our common home. The conference also created an opportune platform for different faith actors to network and collaborate with each other and work with scientists to cap the global temperature rise at 1.50C and integrate indigenous knowledge, which has been effective in the sustainable conservation of ecosystems in Africa. The great potential of youth was reaffirmed and young people committed to engage more in advocacy and action for environmental sustainability, working together and harnessing their talents and innovativeness to protect their future.
Schoolchildren from St. Dominic Savio Primary School, Mwiki led the opening prayer, seeking God’s help and guidance for older generations to play their role in caring for the earth that they are going to inherit. They lamented the damage to the planet and injustice perpetrated by the human race, but also expressed hope for a better tomorrow. In part, they prayed:
“Merciful God, we do not understand science even when it is our favourite subject. But we do understand breathing… and living. We want to breathe; we want to live. Teach us to value life and to love it indeed. We want to hope for a tomorrow; however, it will be… For that is our tomorrow, even as much as this is our today. We pray that our tears will turn into cheers; their jeers of denial into steers of renewal; our folly into jolly.”
Click the following links to access:
The Full Conference Report in PDF Format
The Conference Video Interviews
The Conference Photos
Below are links to the Conference Presentations: