Hundreds of Young people from different religions gathered on 9th and 10th October, 2015 at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi, for the Second Interfaith Youth Forum on Peace and Environment meant to encourage inter religious tolerance and care of environment.
Several religious leaders and other organizational heads dealing directly with the youth in Kenya addressed the forum. The Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) was represented at the event by Leila Micheline Butoyi (the CYNESA Burundi Country Coordinator and the Global Catholic Climate Movement Campaigns Coordinator for Africa and French speaking Countries. The forum was an initiative of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of creation Franciscans Africa (JPIC FA) in collaboration with universities and several partner organizations.
The purpose of the Interfaith Youth Forum was to offer a platform for 1000 Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Baha’i, Hare Krishna, and sheiks youths to reflect on topics of Environment and Peace as a way of creating inter-religious collaboration and care for creation. It was also a way of looking forward to the forthcoming deliberations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in view to making the youth aware of what is at stake on climate change mitigation and contribution to implementation of the recently ratified Sustainable development goals. The Global Catholic Climate Movement and 350.org (South Africa) were the two organizations that talked about the UNFCC.
During the two day event, the Global Catholic Climate Movement campaign in Africa ran a petition drive on climate change in collaboration with the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Franciscans Africa (JPICFA). JPIC Franciscans Africa on the other hand promoted Integrity of Creation in response to Pope Francis’ urgent call to humanity to act on the ecological crisis and his calls for moral courage from world leaders at COP21.
JPIC Franciscans Africa joined the promotion of Laudato Si through the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Petition on Climate Change. The Global Catholic Climate Movement is a community of thousands of Catholics, responding to Pope’s call to action in his Laudato Si’ encyclical and a global network of partners working together on the climate change crisis, united by our Catholic faith and by the moral imperative of responding to and raising awareness about climate change. The movement actively encourages the renewal of our relationship with God’s creation, for current and future generations.
The Franciscans and several other organizations urged the Youth present to sign the Global Catholic Climate Petition, inspired by the Inter-religious march “Una Terra Una Famiglia” that was held in March this year in Rome, where the youth released that together they can do more.
The event ended with a Youth Declaration:
On the Occasion of the second Interfaith Youth Forum on Environment and Peace (IYFEP)
Nearly 800 interfaith youth participants from Kenya met for the second time for the Interfaith Youth Forum on Environment and Peace on 9th and 10th October 2015 at Catholic University Of Eastern-Africa – in a spirit of inclusiveness and with a willingness to learn from each other, share diverse points of view and gain new interfaith perspectives on issues environment and peace.
The Interfaith Youth forum offers the following vision for environment and peace as a way of contributing to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- The enthusiasm of youth for creating a better world should be harnessed and supported through multi-stakeholder participation, engaging youth and attracting ever-larger numbers to the agenda of promoting peaceful coexistence and enabling environment.
- Peaceful coexistence and interreligious tolerance can offer a solution to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Sustainably caring for our common home will increase the resilience of ecosystems and societies while also providing other environmental services and meeting the demands of social justice.
- The youth ought to commit to signing of the Global Catholic Climate Movement Petition on climate change, the global petitions by 350.org and several other pro-poor petitions. The interfaith youths would like to be actively involved in climate change talks as they have a critical role to play in climate change mitigation adaptation and resilience for a sustainable future.
- Need to recognize the role played by religions as a healing force in the word, people of diverse religions spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions, to cultivate peace and justice by engaging young people to bridge religious and cultural differences and to work together for the good of our communities. We aspire to create a peaceful united and prosperous Africa.
- Giving priority and involving youths actively in the conservation of environment, promotion of economic, social and cultural development, peace building and participation in all levels of decision making processes because it affects their lives today and has implications in the future. In addition to their intellectual contribution and their ability to mobilize support, their unique perspectives need to be taken into account.
- The Success of this vision will require further investment in peace and environment education; dissemination of relevant information to youth organizations and other nongovernmental organizations on current youth positions and activities, continuous forums for active youthful engagements on environment and peace, capacity building, creation of jobs, especially for young people. Gender equality with women participating fully.
- This Declaration reflects a diverse set of viewpoints of the participants in the 2ndInterfaith Youth Forum on Environment and Peace.
- Participants Gratefully acknowledged the efforts put by the Government and people of the Republic Kenya, and the support of the civil societies and church organizations that have been in the forefront in providing the young people with platforms for sharing of experiences and best practices on environment and peace, and more so the organizers of the II Interfaith Youth Forum on Environment and Peace.