On 23rd September 2019, the All Africa Conference of Churches held a prayer service to mark the International Day of Peace. Organizations represented at the service include; ACT Alliance, World Vision, United Religions Initiative, Ecumenical Disability Advocates Networks, Young Christian Women Association - Kenya and Africa Alliance of YMCAs.
The guset Speaker Mr. Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) gave the following remarks;
The late Kenyan Nobel Laurette, Prof. Wangari Maathai is remembered for among other achievements, her solid testimonial that “If you destroy nature, nature will destroy you”, which as a result has set us humans on an ideological collision course with both flora and fauna, that ultimately calls us all to consider the necessary balance that we so deeply need to strike in order to enjoy the real treasures of nature, a reserve for only them who work day and night to protect it.
Now if this is not a clear show of a looming conflict, that pits humanity against the harshest of arsenals of a furious nature, then I do not know what will push us out of our not-so-motivating comfort zones of apathy and averseness towards taking ascendancy on Climate Action. From the very onset, I gather that the call to protect our nature is not only a moral obligation, but is now a call to prevent a global climate change-instigated conflict that is very inevitable.
From the Amazon forests’ ravaging fires that have threatened the very existence of the indigenous populations of the South Americas, to the most recent devastating heatwaves experienced in Japan that literally consumed people in a tragedy referred to as “melting people”, nature has given us sufficient substantiation that it can be very unkind. Closer home in Africa, the tropical Cyclone Idai caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1,300 people dead and many more missing, among many other consequences of climate change that have been witnessed.
Back here in Kenya, we are constantly accosted by the bitter taste that comes to one’s mouth at the mention of the Mau Forest and the potential political conflict that lies therein as a result of the efforts to restore this significant water tower in the Country and the entire East Africa’s dependent biodiversity. The question of eviction of the encroachers into this massive forest cover, and their proposed emigration to other areas, recording cases of conflicts due to scarcity of resources like land water, introduction of foreign cultures and even political realignment because of the ‘foreigners’ who have migrated from another place. This has also been a challenge to our leaders, most of whom would rather choose to sacrifice sound reason at the altar of political correctness and expediency. Indeed, as I speak, nature is waiting for neither politician, elections, nor judicial process in its deprivation, the Mara River is drying up threatening the very wildlife and a host of related touristic features that depend on it, all of which ultimately impact negatively on our Country’s GDP segment ascribed to tourism. All these mirror on our economy as a Country which whether we like or not, will be felt in the governance of our land. Sooner rather than later, the common citizen will feel these upshots either in their declining financial muscle, or through heightened food insecurity.
Cognizant of the above, the murkiness increasingly clears by the day that urgent climate action is needed as the panacea to most of the potential socio-economic and political tensions whose build-up we continue to perceive. Taking a deliberate action to solve our climate challenges therefore remains not only a solution to restore the lost biodiversity upon which our existence depends, but also is a sure certification towards ensuring an equal playing field for every member of the society to exploit and enjoy our natural resources in an ethical and just manner that naturally guarantees a peaceful coexistence.
To deliberately err on the side of caution, and to swallow the ostensibly bitter pill of climate justice by taking action now will pledge peace which is a key ingredient for sustainable development. This way, climate refugees, the constantly fading biodiversity, heightened political bravado, economic decline, and social and moral decay that threaten the general fragile peace in our society will be slowly, yet surely stemmed giving vibrant hope to a once feared hopeless state of affairs.
As I conclude, I plead to take note that nature is no respecter of persons. The wellness of the environment automatically translates to the wellness of all forms of life, which translates to sustainable peace. Permit me to ask; What would be the greatest factor of production which is the very engine of sustainable development if not PEACE? I dare say that without Climate Action Now, Sustainable Peace will remain an elusive dream. Pan African Climate justice Alliance PACJA’S core values lies on Partnerships for Climate Change Policy advocacy, Partnerships for Capacity building for Climate action, and that is why this invitation was warmly received and accepted because PACJA recognizes the key and fundamental role that faith plays in averting Climate related conflict. Thank you for the invitation and I believe that we will continue this work moving forward.
Mr. Mithika Mwendwa is the Co founder and Executive Director of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA). Among many awrds, he has been recognised as Climate 100: The World's Most Influential People in Climate Policy.