“Earth is a common home to every human being thus we all have a shared responsibility to take care of it and not destroy it.”
The office of JPIC Franciscans Africa (JPICFA) in collaboration with the Centre for Social Justice and Ethics of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CSJE-CUEA), Mother Earth Network (M-E-Net), Kenya Interfaith Network on Environmental Action (KINEA), United Religions Initiative (URI), Ecumenical Centre for Justice and Peace (ECJP), TOTAL Eco Challenge and Global Peace Foundation (GPF) convened the second interfaith youth forum on Environment and Peace on 9th and 10th October 2015 at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
The Forum which is an annual event was started in the year 2014. It brought together over 800 young people from high schools, universities, communities and professional institutions in Nairobi with different regions backgrounds. The main aim of this year’s forum was to bring youth from diverse religious backgrounds to discuss the role they play in environment and peace.
The forum was graced by Mr. UWE Wissenbach from the European Union as the The Chief Guest. Among the invited guests were Dr. Hasmukh Dawda (URI), Fr. Charles Odira, Fr. Herman Bog, Prof. Dorcas Atieno, Mr. Abdalla Kamana (SUPKEM), Mr. Robert Njeru (TOTAL Eco-Challenge), Dr. Tuesday Gichuki (GPF) among other guests.
The peace component of the forum focused on sharing the knowledge about religions in the world and universal peace. This was mainly to help youth familiarized with the importance of inter-religious dialogue, coexistence, tolerance and the threat of radicalization.
On the other hand, the environmental component of the forum was mainly to create awareness about the forthcoming UNFCC negotiations in Paris and the role of young people in curbing global warming through environmental conservation.
In his opening remarks, Fr. Musaki from CUEA was delighted to host the Interfaith Forum for the second time at Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
“I take this opportunity to welcome you all to Catholic University of Eastern Africa. It is our pleasure to host the 2nd Interfaith Youth Forum on Peace and Environment,” He noted, “My plea to the youth here is that you may take this opportunity to learn about different religions and hopefully develop tolerance amongst each other. This in the end will address how to deal with radicalization challenges”
Sheikh Abdalla Kamana from Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims (SUPKEM) and Brother Lena in their speeches urged the youth to embrace each other despite the fact that they come from different religious affiliations. They quoted different verses from different holy books which shared the need for everyone to value each other and treat one another as they would do to themselves. He said that the misunderstandings among religious groups can only be dealt with if the first step is to understand the perspective of the different books and to use the similar verses that value humanity to unite all of us as one human family under God.
The following outcomes were achieved:
- Youth understood the reasons why there were inter-religious conflicts, inter-ethnic conflicts and what was to be done to correct the thinking of young people.
- An improved level of understanding and a change of perception in the different religions
- The youth understood that taking care of the environment is each individual’s responsibility and this in turn will reduce climate change. They engaged in a tree planting exercise which ensured that 500 tree seedlings were planted in Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
- A statement of Declaration had been made on youth action on peace and climate change issue.
There was a proposal for more youth forums to be conducted so that more young people can understand the different perspectives of different religions and even tribes. In terms of environment the suggestion of more events to be created to promote tree planting activities.