The Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) participated actively at the Second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 2) at the United Nations headquarters for Africa located in Gigiri, Nairobi-Kenya.
UNEA was formed as an outcome of the Rio+20 resolution by the international community based on the apparent need to upgrade and strengthen the UNEP. This was to be accomplished by establishing universal membership within the Governing Council. This decision inspired the Governing Council to hold its first ever session in February 2013 and the member states agreed to rebrand the General Council to UNEA of the UNEP. Pursuant to this, the General Assembly adopted resolution 67/251 that led to the formal altercation of the designation to UNEA. The UNEA is now the UNEP’s principal governing body.
Looking back to the first UNEA that took place in 2014, CYNESA was unable to send a delegation at the assembly. This was because CYNESA was not accredited with UNEP, a fundamental requirement for sending delegates to UNEA. There is an additional prerequisite that further thwarted the possibility of the network of young Catholics in Africa, caring for creation, CYNESA to participate. An organisation must have legally existed for at least two years to be eligible for accreditation with UNEP. However, CYNESA only received its formal registration from the NGO Coordination Board of Kenya on 26th February 2014.
The journey to the UNEA for CYNESA has been an exciting turbulence. It has tested the resilience of the organisation that relies 100% on volunteers and a team of young Africans that thrives in protection of God’s perfect work that man knowingly and unknowingly destructs only to retry to reconstruct. It is imperative to note that the CYNESA team committed their personal resources to ensure that this happens due to lack of sponsorship and the meagre resources available to sponsor participation.
Thus, the team celebrates the success of not only applying for, getting accreditation and participating at the UNEA, but that of even hosting a Green Room Event on the “Exploring the contribution of faith communities in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals”.
In future, the participation of CYNESA at the UNEA and other humanitarian and environmental forums especially in the high-level decision-making bodies has three significant implications. Firstly, it is a guarantee of progress towards the amplification of the African voice on the global decision-making platform. Secondly, this means that young Africans can continue learning and engaging cooperatively and competitively in decisions that affect them directly, which means a grip on their future. Thirdly, CYNESA at UNEA and other platforms means that young Catholics today and tomorrow are adding value to the representation of the Holy See (who sits as an observer at UNEA) by engaging as Catholics even if not in lieu of. Subsequently, the Catholic Church will grow in richness of knowledge, experience and ideas concerning care of creation, which is one of the Catholic Social Teaching principles and obligatory for all Catholics.
Programs Manager, CYNESA.