“Our care for one another and our care for the earth are intimately bound together.” (Laudato Deum, #3). A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si, #49).

Pope Francis is warning of the global nature of the climate crisis and the oppressive weight of the technocratic paradigm in this crisis. In line with scientific evidence, he reminds us that “climate is a common good, belonging to all and for all. At the global level, it is a complex system related to many conditions essential for human life. There is a very consistent scientific consensus that indicates that we are facing a worrying warming of the climatic system” (Laudate Si, #23). Moreover, the Holy Father points out that climate change creates “a vicious circle that aggravates the situation even more, affecting the availability of essential resources such as drinking water, energy, agricultural production in warmer regions, leading to the extinction of part of the planet’s biodiversity… Things are even worse because of the loss of tropical forests that would otherwise help mitigate climate change.” (Laudato Si, #24)

We African faith-based and civil society actors are awakening people’s consciences to the true scale of the ecological crisis.

1-Agricultural negotiation: Increase food systems’ resilience through agroecology and diversification

The IPCC 2019 Special Report on Climate Change and Land affirms that increasing the food system’s resilience through agroecology and diversification is an effective way to achieve climate change adaptation.

We believe that Africa can lead in the transition to sustainable food systems when we:

  • Prioritise agroecology to transform the agri-food system, build resilience, and enable small-scale farmers, pastoralists, and fishers to adapt to climate change.
  • Direct climate finance to agroecology and repurpose public finance away from supporting the industrial agricultural model towards sustainable and resilient production models based on agroecological principles.
  • Meaningfully engage small-scale food producers and indigenous communities, women, and youth in COP28 negotiations and beyond as they manage landscapes across Africa. Integrate indigenous knowledge in climate and biodiversity policies, as they are custodians of valuable knowledge about the land and its biodiversity.
  • Reject false solutions such as Climate Smart Agriculture and Carbon Markets. These threaten land, seeds and breeds and increase reliance on large-scale agribusiness.
  • Build on agrobiodiversity, which is key to climate change resilience. Small-scale food producers and people living in vulnerability hotspots and rural areas in Africa can deliver sustainable food systems through agroecology and diversification.
  • Integrate biodiversity considerations within climate and sustainable development strategies. Safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems is fundamental to the climate-resilient development of our communities, who seek support to maintain the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Take immediate and ambitious action to protect the Congo basin, its rich biodiversity, peatlands, and diverse ecosystems, which contribute to the health of the Earth and sustain communities’ livelihoods.
  • Develop robust African national biodiversity strategies to support local communities, indigenous peoples, and sustainable land management.
  • Promote ecological citizenship committed to halting and reversing biodiversity loss, to care for and secure our common home.

2-Loss and Damage Fund: The moral case for action

A global plea to action for justice by faith leaders across the world is addressed to the leadership in Dubai. As faith leaders and civil society actors, we are inherently concerned with the well-being of people, the pursuit of justice, and applying moral principles to everyday decision-making. The Loss and Damage Fund must correct injustice at the heart of the climate crisis, building peace, harmony, and solidarity to respond to this challenge to our common home. The call is for a fit-for-purpose Loss and Damage Fund that must be: Accessible, ensuring that communities in need across the Global South easily get the funds they require to recover, and be masters of their own future.

  • Comprehensive, supporting both responses to economic and non-economic losses and damages for extreme weather events and slow-onset events such as sea-level rise and desertification.
  • Restorative, providing grants, not loans, based on the polluter pays principle.
  • Representative, underpinned by human rights and the principle of subsidiarity, and governed by an equitable board acting for the common good.
  • Efficient and effective, providing rapid response when disasters strike, providing long-term support to protect from future damages, and acting as the flagship global fund to address losses and damages alongside other funding arrangements.

3-Energy and fossil fuels: Adopt binding forms of energy transition

Environmental degradation affects people’s livelihoods. The contamination of land and water affects human health. Environmental devastation brings death to our people and our land. It creates cycles of conflict and tension that threaten the peace and security of our nations.

“It is not enough to balance the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. It is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress” (Laudato Si #194).

We embrace a new vision for our common home and humanity. We join the pilgrimage of reconciliation with the world. We adopt environmental ethics that consider the well-being of whole ecosystems in decision-making and restrain human activities that harm the earth. We resist the everyday violence of living at the expense of others. We learn to limit our excessive consumption. We join the call for energy transition to halt all new investments in fossil fuel extraction:

  • Urge nations to accelerate the phaseout of fossil fuels and transition towards renewable energy sources.
  • Develop just energy transition partnerships that facilitate international cooperation, mobilize financial support, technology transfer, and capacity development, and invest in local expertise and resources.
  • Prioritize energy access for all, provide reliable electricity to schools and healthcare facilities, and economic opportunities for rural businesses.
  • Ensure the viability of African energy infrastructure, avoiding the risks associated with stranded assets.
  • Diversify Africa’s economy and create sustainable, low-carbon, green industries at the regional level.
  • Adopt an ecological tax on crude oil exports to finance renewable energy.