GREEN ANGLICANS CALL FOR GREEN JOBS AND CLIMATE FINANCE AT COMMONWEALTH HEADS OF GOVERNMENT (CHOGM) IN RWANDA
The Commonwealth consists of 54 countries, the majority of which have strong Anglican presence. The Heads of Government meet every two years, and this year the meeting took place in Kigali.
Renew Our World and Abundant Africa invited 13 climate activists from 8 countries across the globe and tasked them to present their advocacy letter to the heads of State attending. We had two teams, one that participated in the women forum which Bishop Brighton Vita Malasa from Malawi attended, the other team was fully engaged with the youth forum between the dates 19 and 21. The youth team consisted of myself; Rev Dennis Nthenge from Kenya, Bino Makalanyane (South Africa) and Erasto Richard (Uganda) who attended as a country rep. Bishop Jeanne Pierre of Rwanda was also a participant at the Conference.
The theme for CHOGM 2022 was ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming.’ This theme highlights how the 54 member countries in the Commonwealth family are ‘innovating, connecting and transforming’ to help achieve some of its biggest goals, like protecting natural resources and boosting trade.
The Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF 2022), was held in parallel with the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda between 19-21 June 2022 with the theme of ‘Taking Charge of our Future’. This was an opportunity for young people of the Commonwealth to build cross-cultural connections and networks, deliberate on youth-led initiatives addressing emerging issues impacting young people, strategize on perspectives to influence decision makers and ensure young people have a voice in its future. The theme captures the aspirations of our new generation leaders in championing an inclusive and prosperous Commonwealth where young people are key actors and equal stakeholders in shaping the future.
The CYC is the recognized voice of over 1.2 billion young people from all across the Commonwealth, advocating on their behalf on issues such as climate change, employment, access to education, universal health coverage and gender equality. This made our presence at CHOGM the more important and relevant considering the scope of influence it has to the youth of the world.
The experience was new for me but I quickly adapted. The assignment was very clear, our work was to sit in the sessions, listen carefully to the presentations made and identify leaders and organizations that had the potential of helping us achieve our collective goal. In-between sessions were the best time to interact and issue out our request letters. I found it interesting that my clerical shirt, which I wore every day, attracted curious delegates who would always ask about the role of the church in the CHOGM and I would take the opportunity to explain about our Christian mandate to be stewards of the environment and connect it seamlessly to our request letter. I grateful to God for giving us opportunities to do radio and tv interviews during that period which helped in getting the message beyond CHOGM.
We – the youth and church clergy as part of the Renew Our World and Abundant Africa Movement had a well-prepared letter that requested the heads of states to commit to 3 pivotal issues, namely:
- Rebuild trust with climate-vulnerable nations by ensuring that there is full delivery of the promised $100 billion annually, including 50% for adaptation.
- Ensure that finance reaches local communities on the frontlines of climate change.
- Invest in good green jobs for youth, including through climate finance
My take home from the whole CHOGM experience was that the climate crisis is too important to be left to governments alone. The Church too must pitch in and contribute toward the good work of saving our planet. Our voice carries a lot of weight in convincing the world to act environmentally responsible. We should be deliberate in engaging and working with governments in bettering our common homes. If we chose to keep quiet and lock ourselves in churches as God’s created world gets filthier and filthier before God, we shall have a case to answer. Our convictions go beyond moral obligation, we are spiritually stimulated to protect what God took careful time to create and termed as beautiful. We have a God given mandate to care for creation to ensure it is productive and protected as summarized in Gen 2:15 The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.
After the official youth Forum days I got a chance to visit the Anglican Church of Rwanda office where we were graciously received by the General Secretary Rev. Nathan who introduced us to the staff and gave us a tour of the town and the cathedral. Together with Ben Niblett and Bishop Brighton, we briefed him on our participation at CHOGM and the Green Anglican Movement to which I and the Bishop belonged. He was very excited and receptive. He promised to make plans and invite us back for the Launch of Green Anglican movement in Rwanda. We thank God for everything we saw Rwanda is a beautiful country it was a befitting host for the CHOGM and a great inspiration to the Green Anglican Agents who witnessed how nature and brick and motor can blend so beautifully.
Rev Dennis Nthenge : Green Anglicans Movement of Kenya