The Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Charles Balvo, urged delegates at the CYNESA Summit 2017, to “go out and proclaim the Good News, not only the Good News of the Gospel, but the good news that you can make a difference!”
Archbishop Balvo was addressing the official closing ceremony of the CYNESA Summit 2017 on the 26th of November, at the Passionist Retreat Centre in Nairobi. Guests present at the closing ceremony were Ms. Iris Ho, Wildlife Programs Manager at Humane Society International, Ms. Rosemary Mukasa, Deputy Secretary of the Secretariat of Governing Bodies of the UN Environment, and Mrs. Alice Muchiri, Administrator of the Catholic MPs Spiritual Support Initiative of Kenya.
As the overarching theme of the CYNESA Summit was the role of youth in wildlife conservation in Africa, His Excellency Archbishop Balvo noted that “an important part of wildlife conservancy is to engage the people who have to live with and around the different wildlife”, stressing that they have first-hand knowledge and first-hand experience of conservation issues. “Local people are often not very much engaged, which is something we need to do more, to help them appreciate what it is that they have.” He further pointed out that in the encyclical Laudato Si’, “Pope Francis emphasizes the need for education in ecology, education in environment-make people aware of the importance of biodiversity, importance of our care for nature.”
Archbishop Balvo, who also serves as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to UN Environment and UN Habitat, noted that wildlife is something that has a fascination for many people, but emphasized that even the small organisms that we rarely see or think about, are an important part of biodiversity. “People want to see the elephants, the lions, the hippos, the wildebeest, and the great migrations. But I think, and Pope Francis certainly speaks of in Laudato Si, the biodiversity are all important, both the big and small are all worthy of protection”, said Archbishop Balvo.
“Pope Francis invites us to change our lifestyles”, said the Nuncio. “Changing habits, changing lifestyles depend on educational experiences that help us to change the small things.” Echoing the words of the Hon, Chris Wamalwa, Chair of the Catholic Members of Parliament in Kenya, Archbishop Balvo reminded delegates that, “little things that we are able to do, help to overcome a problem, to educate, to organize and help people appreciate what it means to care for the environment.”
He encouraged CYNESA members to make effective use of the tools at their disposal to effect positive change in society, especially in caring for creation. “As Catholic youth, you can use different tools like social communication for constructive things, which can be very effective in creating change. My mission speech to you is, go out and proclaim the good news-not only the good news of the gospel, but the good news that you can make a difference.”
In conclusion, the Archbishop Balvo challenged delegates to reflect on, “why am I here, what am I doing, and what is my purpose? You want to have an effect in the world in which we live, and you can, especially when you get together in initiatives such as CYNESA. I encourage you to do what you can!”
Founder & Executive Director, CYNESA.