By Kelly Moltzen, LSG member
On July 15-16, I attended the Laudato Si Generation conference in Nairobi, Kenya, which marked the fourth anniversary of Laudato Si. The organizers included the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA), the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development, UN Environment and WWF Africa.
Among many of the issues discussed, here are some main takeaways:
- WWF’s New Deal for Nature and People will ask heads of state to make a 50 percent reduction in production and consumption by 2030.
- The Great Green Wall (and forthcoming film of the same name) and Laudato Tree initiatives are being supported by Don Mullan and the Society of African Missions from Ireland.
- The UN Environment’s Faith for Earth initiative plans to start a youth forum
While in Nairobi, I experienced pollution and poor air quality from diesel, and learned that this now kill more Africans than AIDS/HIV. UN Environment wants to stop the flow of “dirty diesel” fuel to West Africa. They’ve also found that idling buses contribute greatly to air pollution. Meanwhile, Kenya is lobbying for a two-year seat on the UN Security Council. If chosen, Kenya would focus on climate change and sustainable development.
I also met with several members of JPIC Franciscans Africa while in Kenya. They are extremely active with lobbying, peacebuilding and conflict resolution. For instance, they advocated for Nairobi’s Mukuru slum to be recognized as a Special Planning Area, which means it will now get more government attention.
One remarkable JPIC volunteer is Steeven Kezamutima, a YouFra (Young Franciscan) member, graduate student and musician with the band Prophet’s Voice. He created a documentary about Fr. John Kaiser, an American priest who was assassinated for fighting human rights abuses in Kenya. Steeven also helped create Capuchin TV episodes such as Earth in 2050, Green Talent Show and Birthday Tree Planting.