KENYA: Pope Francis Lauds UNEPs Contributions on Environment as It Marks 50 Years

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, MARCH 4, 2022 (CISA)-As the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) marks the 50th anniversary of fighting for a safe environment, Pope Francis has praised the program for fronting and articulating environmental issues at an international level.

In a statement signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican’s Secretary of State, on behalf of the pope and read by Monsignor Jose Antonio Texeira Alves, consular at the Apostolic Nunciature in Kenya on March 4. The pope implored members of the international community to work in synergy and responsibly to take care of our common home.

“This awareness becomes even stronger when we note that, after fifty years, we are living an unprecedented experience in the human existence: the need to face and manage a worldwide pandemic through a profound solidarity and fraternal cooperation between the world’s peoples,” the statement reads.

Pope Francis noted that UNEP’s important milestone was “the Rio Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 and, later, the adoption in 2015 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development containing the Sustainable Development Goals implementation path.”

Concerning a joint appeal by Faith leaders for COP26 Pope Francis encouraged members to promote international cooperation to “favour a transition to clean energy; adopt sustainable land-use practices including preventing deforestation, restoring forests and conserving biodiversity; transform food systems to become environmentally-friendly and respectful of local cultures; end hunger; and to promote sustainable lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production.”

“The Holy See acknowledges the work done for better plastic management, another of the great challenges to which the international community is called to solve in a short time to guarantee a better common home for us and future generations,” Pope Francis said in a note to Ms Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP, on the passing of the resolution on plastic waste.

The historic resolution to end plastic pollution was endorsed by 175 countries. It creates an intergovernmental committee to negotiate and finalize a legally binding agreement by 2024.

The pope further appealed to humanity to unite and save the earth from existing damage before it gets too late.

UNEP celebrated its 50th anniversary at a special session in Nairobi on Thursday, March 4, calling for more action worldwide to overcome climate change, biodiversity loss, and rising levels of pollution and waste. The event was attended by the host President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Masisi, and Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari.