Collaborating for climate justice and food sovereignty in Africa and Madagascar

Collaborating for climate justice and food sovereignty in Africa and Madagascar

Representatives from social action centers in the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) actively participated in the climate conferences COP27 (Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in 2022) and COP28 (Dubai, UAE in 2023) to bring forward climate justice concerns in the region, with Ecojesuit extensively sharing JCAM’s engagement and reports on COP throughout the years.

Charles Chilufya SJ, Executive Director of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa (JENA), regularly shared developments on COP28 negotiations in relation to African realities through JENA’s newsletter. Father Chilufya facilitated a session in the Faith Pavilion, A Just Transition for Africa: Mining for Climate Change Mitigation – Faith and Theological Perspectives that discussed the extraction of technology minerals vital for modern solutions to climate change and the ethical considerations of such practices.

Rigobert Minani SJ, Coordinator of the Ecclesial Network on the Congo Basin Forest (Réseau Ecclésial de la Forêt du Bassin du Congo or REBAC), brought the message of Laudate Deum in COP28. In a side event at the Democratic Republic of the Congo Pavilion, Father Minani spoke about the importance of the Universal Church engaging in COP28 and the role of territorial ecclesial networks in fostering a synodal Church that journeys with Indigenous Peoples.

David Munene of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) gathered a group of Catholic actors from non-government organizations during COP28 that served as an impetus in the formation of a Catholic Actors network. The group’s mission is to engage in environmental discussions at the UN level guided by the principles of integral ecology.

In February, Ecojesuit held a conversation with JCAM and collaborators to understand Conference priorities and activities that can help shape a broader collaborative agenda, to strengthen communication dynamics to enable a regular exchange of local and regional stories, and to discern how to proceed in planning for the Ecojesuit Meeting 2024 in July.

Efa Ravelonantoandro from the Centre Arrupe Madagascar shared the Center’s active engagement in campaigns and movements calling for a shift away from single-use plastics. The institution is also preparing for their participation in COP29 and COP30 in Baku, Azerbaijan and Brazil, respectively, by engaging with national coalitions and youth organizations involved in ecology work. This is the challenge posited to broader civil society – to find ways to engage nationally especially that countries are now in the process of preparing a new round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Esther Wangari, JENA Program Manager, shared that JENA established thematic working groups to coordinate ecology and socialaction in the Conference. Brother Ngonidzashe Edward SJ, Executive Director of the Jesuit Ecology and Development Center (JCED) in Malawi, is leading the group on food sovereignty and food justice. Dialogues and forums are being planned to nurture an exchange on food systems transformation and to explore ways in effectively engaging with policy advocacy work, particularly in the UNFCCC COP process.

Fr. Leonard Chiti SJ, who represented the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund in COP28, expressed that Provinces and institutions in Southern Africa are encouraged to engage more in climate advocacy and share more broadly the efforts of groups such as JCED. Advocating on the equitable access of the Loss and Damage Fund is emerging as a possible focus and Father Chiti emphasized the efforts of the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre in enhancing community capacities on organic farming methods.

Given the diversity of action stories, Anastasia Makunu, Conference Communications Coordinator, shared that communications is a challenge. Forming and coordinating a team of communication representatives from the different institutionsis key to ensure dynamic sharing of information. Beyond the exchange of information, there is a need to be strategic inensuring communication materials help spur policy change forward.

The JENA and JCAM offices are located in Nairobi, Kenya where the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters is also located and where the UN Environment Assembly is held. The Conference can use this proximity to be updated on global environmental events and activities.

Ecojesuit meeting 2024 in Zambia

In the Ecojesuit Meeting 2023, there was agreement to explore options for the next Ecojesuit annual meeting to be held in Africa in early July 2024 and which was further discussed during the conversation with JCAM representatives in February.

The Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC) in Lusaka, Zambia is identified as the venue for the Ecojesuit Meeting 2024 and it is hoped that the activity contributes to a deepened understanding of the food and water concerns in different local contexts. Brother Edward shared his hopes that the Ecojesuit meeting will assist in the formation of a network of ecology delegates in the Conference, with active participation of the Provinces.

Ecojesuit will continue to support and share the activities of JCAM and in planning the Ecojesuit meeting 2024. This is an effort to better understand the realities of Africa and Madagascar and Ecojesuit will work with JCAM partners in organizing and coordinating the activity.

During COP28, Ecojesuit shared the following stories in relation to JENA:

Urgency, hope, and integrity at the midpoint of COP28

Engaging in COP28 side events

JENA newsletter launched

A backgrounder on Laudate Deum and what it means for COP28

For COP27, Ecojesuit shared the following stories in relation to JENA:

JENA reports on COP27 agreement on food

Food systems and governance, agroecology at COP27

Financing for Loss and Damage is the preferential option for the poor, a call to world leaders at COP27

Lobbying for a global blue foods mandate on agriculture and food security

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