The Africa Faith Actors Network for Climate Justice goal is to amplify the work of African churches and faith communities against climate change, and to accompany African leadership and churches in climate change processes.
A specific mandate asks the network to coordinate the work at a national, regional, and continental level to add to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process.
“We have been responding to the climate change crisis in our own contexts but working alone does not bring much effect,” said the Rev. Dr Fidon Mwombeki, general secretary.
The launch and commissioning of the network occurred at the end of a continental consultative meeting on climate change organized by the All Africa Conference of Churches. Participants from 27 African countries including church leaders, climate activists, and ecumenical partners attended the 20- 24 June consultation.
“Our voice as faith leaders remained so far not very loud, especially in international spheres. We asked why and we noted that there is a need for more coordination in the climate change processes,” said the ecumenical leader.
A five-member committee, drawn from the All Africa Conference of Churches regions, plus representatives from women, youth, and persons with disabilities will steer the network’s activities. The members will attend, organize meetings, and participate in key climate processes.
“Your membership is a clear commitment that you are determined to save the earth and therefore our life. The welfare of the earth is our welfare,” said Mwombeki, a Tanzanian Lutheran pastor.
He urged the network to be realistic and original, and to engage the world in the realities of Africa. He explained—for example—it will be ridiculous for the network to condemn the use of charcoal, which means a lot of clearing of forests, without talking about the need for affordable energy.
Rev. Dr Ezekiel Lesmore, All Africa Conference of Churches director of programmes, said with the network’s launch and commissioning, it was exciting to see religious leaders making commitments to be actors for climate justice.
“This is was important because we need to commit to what God has invited us to do—be good stewards, responsible stewards, and people who recognise that our own existence is dependent on all that constitutes the ecosystem,” Lesmore, a Nigerian, said.
The network members are expected to continue with what they learned, he added.
“We have just planted seven trees as our commitment to carbon sinks. We know Africa is emitting only 4 percent (of greenhouse gases), but we will not give up. We will be deliberate,” he said.
Rwandan Anglican Bishop Augustin Ahimana said he encouraged the network members to remain committed to the work.
“Everything depends on how we care for the earth. Whatever challenges you will face, I encourage you not to give up,” Ahimana.