By Francis Inguzi
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) has urged religious leaders around Africa not to relent on the war against climate change.
In a statement issued to mark the World Religion Day, celebrated every third Sunday of January, Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director of the PACJA, a coalition of over 1000 Faith based organisations, CSOs, community groups and individuals in 48 African countries and who advocate for fair and just climate regimes for Africa said the religious groups have what it takes to change the course of climate change threats.
According to Mithika, faith communities – to which 4 billion people worldwide belong have the numbers and resources that could turn the course of climate change around.
“As PACJA, we have known the immense influence religion has on people and its interconnectedness with nature. As such, from outset, PACJA has collaborated with religious leaders across board to clamour for climate justice for the African people,” said Mithika.
Ahead of the twenty sixth Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held last November in Glasgow, the charity Christian Aid calculated that climate disasters in 2021 caused damage in excess of $100 billion, one of the costliest years on record.
According to Mithika, people of every background, and the approximately 4000 recognized religions churches, faith groups, congregations can now rise up to take joint actions to turn the tides.
He noted the work of the Hindu community in Kenya whose Hindu Tree Planting Project is actively involved in planting trees across the country in support of the Kenya government’s efforst to reach 10 per cent forest cover.
The Hindu community in Kenya have been planting 10,000 trees annually, in various parts of the country.
Dr. Solomon Belay Representative of the Baha’i International Community in Addis Ababa Ethiopia said the Baha’is believe in upholding sacred values of stewardship, selflessness, moderation, and trustworthiness—vital in promoting healthy relationships with the natural world.
Archbishop Aregawi, who is the Archbishop of Diredawa and Djibouti Diocese of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church noted that the issue of climate change is treated not as a simple temporal politician’s project, or just an ecological or financial issue, it is a spiritual, social and moral manifestation of our religious devotion.
Archbishop Dr. Aregawi noted that it was a spiritual and religious commitment to safeguard nature as it was God-given.
Ahead of COP26, Muslim organizations and leaders undertook several public campaign activities, launched public statements and advocated for climate policy among governments.
“Protection, conservation and development of the environment and natural resources is a mandatory religious duty to which every Muslim should be committed. This commitment emanates from the individual’s responsibility before God to protect himself and his community,” said Fathiya Abdulmajid, a Kenyan veteran climate activist.
The World Religion Day, observed by millions of people across the world has been celebrated over the years since 1950. This day is observed on every 3rd Sunday of the year. The holiday happens to fall on 16th Sunday 2022.
The day is set aside to appreciate and learn about all the religions practiced in the world. It fosters understanding and harmony among people of the various religious beliefs that exist in the world. It focuses on creation of harmony and understanding.
It serves as a great opportunity to learn about your beliefs and those of other religions without judgement and with more knowledge of their religion.