COP 17 youth caravan delegates bring climate hope to Malawi

Eight of Malawi’s youth who were part of over 145 youths drawn from Africa on the ‘We have faith-act now for climate justice’ campaign, have returned. They arrived after clocking over 5,000 kilometers of travel in safari trucks, confident their involvement was a great part to the Sunday December 13 signing towards an extension to the Kyoto Protocol, and a positive move to climate fund, among major great agreements.

Travelling under the umbrella of Malawi’s three main Christian mother bodies, the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), the team attended several meetings before engaging in the Conference of Parties (COP 17) summit which just closed in Durban, South Africa.

Getting to grips with COP jargon, the group first attended the Conference of Youth (COY 7) summit at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal’s (UKZN) Howard Collage campus for three days, where they were brought abreast with climate science, handling COP 17 issues, and many more.

Mtheto Lungu: Act now for climate justice

Taliona Matapa, M’theto Lungu and Reverend Francis Juma represented MCC, whilst Mwiza Mankhamba and Dominic Nyasulu were on the ECM delegates.

“We are going to move on with this initiative where we wish to engage more faith youths in climate matters,” said Matapa.

“Now that the climate fund is sure to get the financial support that African and other poor countries need to redress their climatic shortfalls from rich countries, it is very important that the youth must move with the world in making this a reality.”

Leader of the Malawi youths, Lungu said he was hopeful that faith leaders will be joined in their commitment to push for a theology of climate change and justice by political, traditional and all other leaders.

“We want an engaged community. It is the poor of the poor that suffer more. It is disheartening that the church seems to have been sidelined, particularly its youth, in climate issues for many years. We want to use our wider church constituency to reach out to all corners of the country and the world in preaching the theology of climate justice.

“We want to carry out meaningful activities including those as simple as planting more trees across the country, moving for policies that will see climate as a subject at primary and secondary school levels.”

Lungu added:”We want top adopt law makers including our Members of Parliament on climate issues. We want to sensitize more people, and we want to do this now and not tomorrow. This is the start of a new era that will see the youth not only get involved in making change in political and other spheres.”

“We look forward to seeing a youth community that leads change in this noble cause. We want our voice not only to be held, we want our efforts to be appreciate and mostly supported – we are crying climate justice now!” said Lungu, who is Public Relations Officer at MCC.

An environmental activist, Nyasulu on his part said the caravan was a great experience where a lot was exchanged and learnt, and that he is optimistic faith youths will work together with all stakeholders to care for mother earth.

“The climate caravan we were part of may have started matters. For us, we want to also make a ‘national caravan’ where we can undertake more activities on climate change and justice. We are discussing of creating a strong network that will make things move under our faith leaders,” he said.

Other youths on the campaign but representing other youth organisations included Dumisani, Emma Kalea, and Heather Maseko.

Youths on the African Climate Change Campaign Caravan driving from Nairobi to Durban included those from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, DRC, Rwanda, Nigeria, Cameroun, Uganda and others from Norway, USA, Canada and Denmark.

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