African Jesuits at the Maiden Africa Climate Summit: Upholding the Values of Justice and Spiritual Compassion

From 4 to 6 September 2023, Nairobi took center stage in the fight against climate change as it hosted the inaugural Africa Climate Week (ACW). The Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network - Africa (JENA), an integral arm of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar’s (JCAM) social apostolate, actively participated in this ground-breaking summit.

Throughout the summit and in the spirit of Laudato si’, JENA, together with other climate and social justice advocates, emphasized the essential convergence of climate change, social justice, and sustainable development. The Summit resonated with a united African voice, marking the continent’s unwavering commitment to contribute to combatting the immense threat of global warming.

While Africa contends with the profound implications of the climate crisis, its decision to host such a significant summit is commendable. JENA applauds this valiant step but also highlights an ongoing issue: the gap between lofty pledges and actual implementation. JENA stresses that while tools to counteract the intensifying climate crisis are accessible, genuine action often lags behind.


JENA Collaborations and Events during the Summit: a faithful call to action

During the summit, JENA joined a fervent appeal by religious leaders. Representatives from Hindu, Muslim, and various Christian denominations presented a proclamation encompassing six crucial demands:

• Climate Finance: A direct appeal to developed nations to shift from mere words to significant financial assistance.

• Compensation for Loss and Damage: Recognizing Africa’s vulnerability, they sought financial aid, particularly grants, to lighten the burden on the Global South.

• Youth, Green Jobs, and Economic Diversification: Emphasizing the youth demographic, they urged African leaders to foster green economies.

• Climate Adaptation: A clear strategy from the Africa Climate Week highlighting resilient adaptation measures was sought.

• Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy: This was coupled with a plea for food security and agriculture prioritization.

• Morality and Action: Rooted in spiritual teachings, they expressed dismay at the tepid global commitment to climate change mitigation.


Children: The Heartbeat of Climate Action

Just before the Africa Climate summit, from 31 August to 2 September, in an exemplary move demonstrating commitment to future generations, JENA sponsored the first-ever Global Child-led Climate Change Summit on the sidelines of the Africa Climate Summit. Children and young advocates from the Global South assembled to articulate their concerns and visions concerning climate change and global financial justice. This ground-breaking summit culminated in the presentation of the New Children’s Global Financial Pact Declaration. Crafted with fervor and hope, this outcome statement was birthed in Paris earlier in Junewith the support of JENA and is a clarion call to global and African leaders. Its central tenets focus on amplifying the youth’s voice on climate issues, bolstering climate finance, advocating for children’s health and education, and championing inclusive environmental decision-making processes in Africa. Significantly, the declaration states: “We stand at crossroads of life or death, and the choices we make today will shape the world that the generations after we inherit.”

The 2023 Africa Climate Summit underscores the continent’s resilience, creativity, and ambition, illustrating Africa’s pledge to craft a sustainable future amidst worldwide challenges.


Challenges Observed and The Way Forward

The ACW 2023 brought significant advancements; however, it also highlighted challenges like the overshadowing of traditional African perspectives by dominant Western ideologies. A clear divide was evident between summit commitments and tangible applications. JENA, along with its partners, prioritizes amplifying African narratives and dreams. True change stems from sincere, empathetic promises guided by a strong moral compass.


JENA’s participation in ACW 2023 spotlighted the urgency of grassroots climate initiatives and the symbiosis of economic endeavors with the sanctity of life. Its mission, aligned with Pope Francis’ agenda outlined in Laudato si’, reverberates with hope. Fueled by Africa’s indomitable spirit, its young populace, and the wisdom of its faith leaders, the world should not just watch but actively participate. Africa’s journey towards environmental sustainability, justice, and climate protection seeks global unity and active collaboration.

Special thanks to Charles Chilufya, SJ, for his collaboration.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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