The World Environment Day, instituted by the United Nations Organization, is celebrated on 5 June of every year in a selected city around the world. This year, Luanda, Angola, was chosen to host the international celebration under the theme: “Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Trade of Wildlife”.
The All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), in collaboration with United Religions Initiative-Africa (URI-Africa), Mother Earth Network and Kenya Interfaith Network of Action for Environment organized an interfaith celebration on 6 June 2016, at the Desmond Tutu Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme: “Role of Faith Based Organizations and Religious Leaders in Environmental Protection and Fight against Illegal Wildlife Trade in Africa”, which gathered representatives of various Faith Based Organizations involved in environmental activities.
The General Secretary of the AACC, Rev. Dr. Karamaga, in his opening remarks, welcomed the participants and indicated that human beings are created in the image of God and loving one’s neighbor is loving God. Likewise, God created the universe and respecting the environment is a sign of our respect for God. A series of speakers broke down the above theme for the participants, touching on different aspects of it.
One of them, Dr. Dorcas Otieno, expanded on “Faith Based Organizations/Religious leaders and Sustainable Development Goals” and the second one Engineer Joseph Ngondi on “What Faiths can do in the Protection and Fight against Illegal Wildlife Trade in Africa”. Their presentations outlined clearly the loss of moral values in our society, which constitutes the main reason why it has been difficult to fight against illegal wildlife trade in Africa successfully.
They also made clear suggestions on the role of Faith Based Organizations, including the use of manuals produced by the Kenya Interfaith Network of Action for Environment to guide the government of Kenya in inserting moral values in the educational curriculum and others which can be used by religious leaders to prepare relevant sermons to educate the believers.
The event was also graced by a representative of the United Nations Environment Program, Mr. Levis Kavagi, Regional Coordinator, Ecosystem Management, who stressed the interconnectivity between human beings and wildlife species and the negative effects of their destruction on our very survival.
One of the highlights of the interfaith celebration was the conferring of the Inaugural Environment Award by URI-Africa to Mother Earth Network, a Faith Based Organization which has encouraged tree planting around Kenya, presented by the Regional Director of United Religions Initiative, Ambassador Mussie Hailu. Another highlight was the reciting of the Green Rule by all the participants: “Do unto the Earth, what you will have it do unto you”.
The celebration ended with the planting of four trees at various spots on the compound to buttress the message for the day.