The Zambian chapter of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) joins the rest of the world in welcoming Pope Francis’ call for care for creation through his encyclical letter, which serves as a reminder to Christians and to all people on the planet to take constructive action to care for our common home. The encyclical is encouraging human communities to act responsibly towards our natural environment and each other, because climate change and environmental degradation, is profoundly affecting the poor of the poorest.
CYNESA, founded on Catholic Social Teaching, is preparing a toolkit on climate change for young people. The toolkit draws from Scripture, Ignatian Spirituality, scientific research and Catholic Social Teaching because we know that in our own way we have a role to play to heal Mother Earth.
Pope Francis’ encyclical offers messages of hope and encouragement and the need for humankind to be conscious of production and consumption levels to avoid overstretching the providence of nature. One of the main reasons behind the present-day environmental injustices is the throw-away culture. Consequently, this causes competition of space and stirs up violence. It is, therefore, time to bring a moral dimension into it because the whole earth is giving us a message but we have not responded accordingly. Thus, there is need for a place of faith on issues concerning the environment and climate change.
The encyclical further explains how sinful it is to exploit and misuse God’s own creation and expounds on how human activity is continuously injuring Mother Earth. The encyclical is a call to leaders to serve creation within their capacities and to tell their own stories to both faith and non-faith audiences if we are to overcome environmental injustices holistically.
In the book of John, we are reminded that God is the master of creation and all things were made through Him and in Him was life. Sadly, many Christians have not paid adequate attention to the relationship between their living space and their attitude or behaviour towards it. As Christians, we need to wake up to the reality of the interdependency that exists between the two and view the two as a twin issue as opposed to an isolated concept.
At the time the encyclical was released CYNESA Zambia and other Zambian civil society leaders were attending the first capacity building and awareness workshop on the development of the Intended National Determined Contributions (INDC) ahead of COP21 in Paris, later this year. It was clearly noted, during the workshop, that there is need for the Zambian INDC to recognise and respect the environment and social safeguards, during the development and implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation projects and initiatives.
CYNESA Zambia is thankful that Pope Francis, in ‘Laudato Si’, echoes the concerns of young people: “Young people demand change, they wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded” .
Agness Shikabi, Country Director, CYNESA Zambia.