2021.06.05 Foto 5: Impatto dell’attività mineraria su foreste e acqua - Storia Laudato Sì 34 Peru 34PeruLS05

SECAM: We have no right to destroy biodiversity

As the UN prepares for COP15 in autumn this year, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) calls for urgent action to deliver an ambitious “Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework”.

By  Lisa Zengarini

Ahead of the upcoming United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) to be held in Canada in Autumn  2022, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has joined in urging governments to take immediate and ambitious action to protect the diversity of Creation.

COP15 on biodiversity

COP15 will convene governments from around the world to agree to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade through the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework process. The framework sets out an ambitious plan to implement broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity and to ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled.

The Conference will also look at the implementation of the protocols of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that deal with the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of nature, and the safe transport, handling and labelling of Living Modified Organisms.

SECAM statement released at event in Nairobi

For the first time the African bishops have taken a public stance on this important issue in a document titled “SECAM calls for urgent action to deliver an ambitious Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework". The statement was released on Tuesday at an event organized in Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration with the Laudato Si’ Movement (LSM) and  the Ecclesial Network on the Congo Basin Forest (REBAC).

Among the participants in the gathering were Fr. Joshtrom Issac Kureethadam, of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and representatives of various organizations, including  Justice, peace and integrity of Creation Franciscan Africa (JPICFA), and the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA).

Care for nature and for the most vulnerable 

In line with Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si‘ on Care for our Common Home",  the statement points out that protecting nature and the most vulnerable go hand in hand.   For this reason, the SECAM bishops have joined those who are calling for 50% of the Earth to be protected by 2030

“We have no such a right to destroy biodiversity.”

Rights of indigenous peoples

As reported by LSM's website, SECAM  also calls for the respect of the rights of indigenous peoples and the immediate stop of the construction of  the 1,443-kilometre East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) . The controversial pipeline is expected to transport oil from Hoima, in Uganda,  to the port of Tanga in Tanzania, displacing about 118,000 people across the two African nations.  endangering the region’s unique ecosystems, and threatening wetlands, wildlife, and fresh water sources that support millions of people.

Protecting the biomass of the Congo Basin

The statement makes special reference to the biomass of the Congo Basin, the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, where illegal and unsustainable logging, along with land grabbing and industrial agriculture put indigenous peoples and endangered species at risk.

In this regard, the African Bishops  point out that the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis are intimately linked. Indeed , climate and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin and, therefore, must be tackled together, they say. Similarly, the ecological problem is inseparable from its social dimension:  abuses against biodiversity affect vulnerable communities that have been caring for these ecosystems for centuries, and also generate a number of social conflicts, the Bishops point out.

The statement signed by SECAM Vice President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, finally calls on governments, especially of the developped countries, to be transparent and to be held accountable, while reminding them  of their financial commitments to halt biodiversity loss and initiate its recovery.

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22 June 2022, 11:42