KENYA: Catholic Youth Suggest Renewed Fight against Environmental Degradation in Africa

NAIROBI, JULY 16, 2019 (CISA) -Allen Ottaro, the founder and Executive Director of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) has called for a more spirited bid to control environmental degradation and climate crisis in Africa.

“Tackling the climate crisis is one of the most urgent environmental needs of our time. Extreme weather-related events such as Cyclone Idai, which destroyed 90 percent of the city of Beira, Mozambique, is a sobering reminder of the urgency of the climate crisis,” he said.

“In recent weeks and months, several governments have declared a climate emergency…We have also seen reports that paint a grim picture of the staggering extinction rate of species. Many of these problems are, to a great extent, caused by humans. It therefore means that we humans have the opportunity to turn things around,” he added.

Mr Ottaro was speaking to journalists during the second international Laudato Si’ interfaith conference held at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi from July 15-16.

“Africa is on the frontlines of environmental degradation, as it faces numerous environmental threats such as biodiversity loss, pollution, climate change, deforestation, water scarcity among others, all of which pose serious challenges for sustaining life, both for present and future generations,” he lamented.

He noted that environmental degradation compounds the poverty situation on the continent and impacts on the social conditions of the people by accelerating rural-urban migration, challenge of food security, access to water and people’s health.

The  conference focused on how young people are innovatively providing solutions to these environmental challenges, whether through advocacy, as witnessed by the climate strikes; creating awareness; lifestyle changes; and concrete action plans like tree growing, recycling and renewable energy training.

“Young people have a stake in both the present and the future. They will live with the consequences of the decisions and actions, or the lack of them. It is therefore very important that young people actively and meaningfully participate in decision making processes that relate to development issues, and which have a bearing on the environment. Their strong consistent voices can shape decisions and actions of policy makers,” Ottaro said.

The Conference, which ran under the theme, “Laudato Si’ Generation: Young people caring for our common home,” was attended by representatives from organizations including World Wildlife Fund Regional Office for Africa, the Young Muslim Association, and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

A total of 350 delegates from various Faith’s and nationalities across the world attended the conference.


Representatives from the Church in Kenya included the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Hubert van Megen, Bishop Oballa Owaa, chairperson of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Peace and justice commission and Bishop Maria Wainaina of the Catholic Diocese of Murang’a