Young people are at the forefront of leading climate action, and should be engaged at levels of addressing the climate crisis. This was the key message delivered by CYNESA Executive Director, Allen Ottaro, at a meeting organized by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), held in Zambia, February 10th to 13th 2020. The Lusaka meeting brought together coordinators from the Integral Human Development and Social Communications Departments, from five of the eight countries that constitute the AMECEA region.
In his presentation, which covered the divestment movement, recent impacts of the climate crisis in Eastern Africa, and the opportunities available for leveraging on the structures of the Catholic Church to address the environmental crisis, Ottaro highlighted that in the encyclical letter Laudato Si’, Pope Francis recognizes the important role that young people have in responding to both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. He invited the participants to foster stringer engagement and involvement of young people in the environmental campaigns that they initiate, and to support the ideas and projects that young people bring forward. Noting that there is already a strong youth climate movement in some of the countries within the AMECEA region, there is still great potential to engage young Catholics in a variety of environmental projects that address both the climate and biodiversity crisis.
As 2020 is billed as the super year for the environment, Ottaro invited AMECEA to take advantage of the opportunities to provide input to ongoing policy processes, such as the post-2020 biodiversity framework. He called for stronger presence of Catholic organizations and leaders from Africa at policy forums, such as the Africa Climate Week, due to be held in Kampala in April 2020.
Caritas Zambia National Director, Mr. Eugene Kabilika, also made a presentation about the encyclical Laudato Si’, and gave concrete examples of environmental degradation in Zambia, that Caritas is working to address. Participants concluded the workshop with a visit to the Kasisi Agricultural Centre, which provides lifelong education in sustainable farming.
AMECEA is a Catholic service organization for the National Episcopal Conferences of the 8 countries of Eastern Africa, namely Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Djibouti and Somalia are affiliate members. CYNESA has chapters in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda, and is currently working to establish chapters in Ethiopia and Malawi.
(Click here for story by AMECEA News)
Founder – Executive Director, CYNESA.