The head of an African youth network urged the world’s religions to embrace the voices of young people, as the leaders explore ways to tackle the current global ecological crisis.
Allen Ottaro, founder and executive director of the Catholic Youth Network for Environment Sustainability for Africa, said young people were aware of the current realities of climate change and were ready to join in the search for solutions.
“Youth have said they will do their homework, but you (adults) also need to do yours,” Ottaro said during a side event during the UN Environment Nairobi Convention. “While we are asking for space, we’re also prepared to take responsibilities. The best way to take the responsibilities is to get involved in those decision-making processes that in the ultimately affect our future.”
Ottaro was one of several delegates from faith and faith-related organisations who attended the UN convention in Nairobi. More than 5,000 delegates from around the world gathered from March 11-15 to discuss ways of accelerating environmental protection.
“We can no longer delay taking action to protect people and this planet,” Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of the UN Environmental Programme, said at the opening session March 11.
French President Emmanuel Macron echoed a similar call at the meeting, noting that young people were pushing for urgent action.
“Our youths are saying: You are not moving fast enough. They are right to get impatient, because we are too late,” Macron told the meeting yesterday.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the presence of faith leaders at the meeting, saying they could provide useful lessons in environmental protections.
‘Faiths for Earth’ was a side event at the assembly.
The Catholic Youth Network for Environment Sustainability for Africa joined Brahma Kumaris, a worldwide Hindu spiritual movement, to host a session during the side event, where Ottaro spoke.
He said faiths should not fear young people’s critical voices even when the matter is sensitive and controversial.