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The fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA4) took place from the 11th to 15th March 2019 UNEP Gigiri, Nairobi compound and Jesuits were part of the concluded International Assembly. Jesuits from various Social Centers in Africa participated in the assembly as delegates and they were; Fr James Kayanda (JHC), Fr Adrian Makasa (JCED) and Fr Tshkiendwa Ghislain (DRC). They all represented the Jesuits in the social sector and played an important role of letting people know what Jesuits in Africa are doing in the area of Social Innovation, Agriculture and Food Sustainability in Kenya, Malawi, and DRC. In addition, they were part of the major working groups entitled “faith for earth” that draws its spirituality from the Holy books on the care of our common home.

Apart from the people of various groups of religion present in the faith for the earth, the conference attracted 5 heads of states, 157 environment ministers and more than 5000 participants from different walks of life that attended the conference.

The main theme for the assembly was, ‘Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production.

UNEA-4 addressed the following issues:

  1. Environmental challenges related to poverty and natural resources management,
  2. life-cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals, and waste management; including sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss; and
  3. Innovative sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological change.

The above-mentioned issues are very crucial for Jesuits in the social sector because they are in line with what the network has planned to focus on from the year  2019-2023.  The UN conference shaded more light on JENA’s area of focus and we hope that all the members of the network can learn something from the resolutions that were passed at the closure of conference for the purpose addressing environmental challenges. This could be achieved by adopting innovative solutions, moving towards sustainable and building resilient societies through sustainable consumption and production (SCP)

Apart from the major group sessions discussions, Jesuits visited the Sustainable Innovation Expo tents from 10-15 March; to learn more on fish farming, food production, plastic reduction, renewable clean energy, water conversation, and sustainable agriculture.  Another event that took place in UNEA-4 included;   the Cities Summit on 13 March that the Jesuits participated in.

At the opening of the High-level Segment, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, stressed on the importance indigenous African groups and traditional spiritual leaders in managing natural resources. Kenyatta underscored Kenya’s actions towards a circular economy and commitment of the country in reinforcing the role of UNEP in Nairobi as the global leader for protecting the environment.

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, warned that the international community is not on track to limit global warming and reduce biodiversity loss. He also spoke of the vision behind the third One Planet Summit, which took place in parallel with the High-level Segment, and the forthcoming UN 2019 Climate Summit. Both events seek to promote transformative change and avoid the “greenwashing” of existing economic practices. Macron cited several French-led multilateral efforts to advance these agendas, such as the intention to issue a “G7 Pledge” on environmental issues, rather than its usual communiqué, under the French G7 Presidency in 2019; and the push for the adoption of a Global Pact for the Environment at the UN, which he described as a legally-binding “compass” that would both endow citizens with a set of rights to a healthy environment as well as with the means to fight “anti-environment” behaviors worldwide.

Finally, the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA4) closed on, Friday, on the 15th March 2019 with the adoption of 23 resolutions, a ministerial statement, and 3 decisions under the presidency of Mr. Siim Kiisler, the Minister of Environment of Estonia.

On the last day, Jesuits who participated in the conference promised to go and replicate what they had learned more on sustainable agriculture and social innovation.

“I will go and do fish farming to help create employment for youth in DRC ”, said Fr Tskiendwa

Article by: Elizabeth Auma

JENA Communications officer


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