KENYA: Climate Crisis Does Not Care About Faith, Religion or Race, says Representative of Vatican to UNEP

By Paschal Norbert

NAIROBI, AUGUST 22,2023 (CISA)- Ahead of the Africa Climate Summit 2023 hosted by the Government of Kenya in partnership with the Africa Union Commission (AUC), Rev. Fr Stephen Makagutu OFMCap, the Assistant to the Permanent Representative of Vatican to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is calling on faith leaders to acclimatize the youth better and for action on the fight against climate crisis in Africa.

“If I begin with Africa, many of us are religious that we have a faith that we belong to, be it Hinduism, be it Islam, be it Christianity and therefore most of the youth are also found there.  Because most of the young people in Africa find themselves brought up in families that are religious and therefore they are always either in the Mosque or the Church and therefore for faith-based organizations will help since this is where you find most of the youth. It is a place they feel most at home and if you bring this message in our preaching and in part of the activities that we do and also not just telling them but putting it in practice then we can deliver this message better,” said Fr Makagatu who was speaking on the night time Monday Report Show at Citizen TV Kenya on August 21, 2023.

The member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin appealed to all faith leaders to unite in the fight against climate change since it was no longer time to work as lone entities but to forge ahead together using their platforms and institutions that reach millions of young people.

“As faith-based organizations, we have a big podium to be able to bring this information to the people. We who are church leaders and faith-based leaders, we need to give education that climate change is not only about litter, and planting trees but so many things that we do,” he said.

Fr Makagutu warned of the indiscriminate and dire effects of climate change and urged people to learn more about climate change in order to be well informed of the direct and indirect effects of it.

“The Bible says our people are perishing because of ignorance… before we came on this show someone commented on Twitter that climate change is a scam because when people talk about climate change they only think about cleaning and planting trees, we don’t think about things like green energy, divesting from fossil fuel because we have only narrowed it to just the little that we can see,” he pointed out.

“Many a time we leaders who are in faith-based organizations/ institutions just speak about it but never bring the message into actuality and that is why in the year 2015 Pope Francis wrote a book called Laudato Si for the Care for Creation and the Poor. In this book he talks about the scientifical part of it and the theological part, that climate change has moved from climate change to climate crisis and therefore we must act now,” he rallied.

Fr Makagutu warned that “The climate crisis does not care about your faith, religion or race. When climate comes to revenge it does not care who you are and therefore, we need to educate the people.”

He emphasized the role of the youth in the climate action plan is to act with immediacy and thus, appealed to all climate change actors to revitalize youth participation in the fight for they are the ones who will implement the policies of today.

“We call upon these youths because what we talk about now is we make policies but it is the youth who will bring these policies to fruition and therefore they must be put into practice,” he stated.

Scheduled from September 4 to 6, 2023, the Africa Climate Summit will focus on the theme ‘Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World’ and will bring together leaders and investors from Africa and beyond to share experiences and solutions for a sustainable, resilient Africa. The event aims to champion a positive, climate-compatible vision for Africa.

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the summit, which convenes during the Africa Climate Week (ACW) 2023 – a regional collaboration platform to provide region-focused contributions on: energy systems and industry; cities, urban and rural settlements, infrastructure, and transport; land, ocean, food, and water; societies, health, and livelihoods; and economies, will form an avenue for regional discussions on these topics that will inform the first global stocktake (GST), which will conclude at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) in November in UAE.