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Posted by on June 19, 2014 at 4:25 AM

CYNESA SUMMIT 2014 kicked off on 16th June 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya. The Summit has brought together twenty participants from six countries, Kenya (host), Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. In the two years of CYNESA existence, this has been the first time that CYNESA members from different countries have gathered together. The aim of the summit is to provide a platform for discussion in order to address the problems faced by African Youth and to deliver recommendations, inspired by and drawing from Catholic social teaching, for sustainable development on the continent. The opening ceremony was graced by his Lordship Rt. Rev James Maria Wainaina.

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In his opening remarks, Bishop Wainaina recognized the work being done by CYNESA members. "The past has not been long but I believe that CYNESA has a great future...Just because you have faith is a very important strength you have being an organisation of this has been said by Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and the Current (Pope Francis) on environment....The Second strength is that you are youthful...and are open to other faiths...I believe that one of the things we need to do is to come up with also spend quite some time coming up with policies as you grow, but have a focus; environmental education have become very fast..focus on a need...but have openness on other concerns" Rt. Rev James Maria Wainaina.

Rt. Rev James Maria Wainaina Watering a tree he had just planted during the Opening Ceremony

The opening of the Summit marked the officail launch of CYNESA and a start of a great journey a head.

Welcome to the 1st CYNESA Summit 2014!

Posted by on April 4, 2014 at 10:15 PM

The CYNESA team in Nairobi has been working hard since the last quarter of last year, preparing to host what will be its first ever summit, bringing together leaders of CYNESA national chapters for a week-long meeting. This will be in the lead up to the United Nations Environmental Assembly, scheduled for June 23rd-27th at the United Nations complex, Nairobi. Here is a welcome video message from the CYNESA-Kenya team!

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Stay tuned for more news about the CYNESA Summit in the coming weeks!!

CYNESA Hosts Workshop on Climate Change Toolkit

Posted by on April 4, 2014 at 9:20 PM

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The Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA), with the support of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and with teh collaboration of 4 Jesuit schools in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, has embarked on an ambitious project to develop a climate change toolkit for youth in Jesuit institutions in Africa.

About 20 participants gathered for a preparatory workshop that officially marked the project's launch. They included science teachers from St.Peter Claver High School (Dodoma) and Loyola High School (Dar es Salaam), Tanzania and St. Aloysius Gonzaga High School (Nairobi). A number of Jesuits, including the director of youth and young adult ministry of the Zimbabwe province, also took part as participants and speakers during the two-day event at the Don Bosco Youth Educational Services centre in Karen, Nairobi, March 21st-23rd 2014.

The overall goal of the project is to enhance the knowledge, skills and engagement of young people in Jesuit instituions in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, with respect to climate change, in the context of Catholic Social Teaching and the Ignatian Spirituality.


Fr. Etienne Triaille, SJ, Advisor of the Holy See to UNEP and UN Habitat speaks about Ecology and Ignatian Spirituality


The preparatory workshop was aimed at gaining an understanding of the context of climate change issues in Africa, and more specifically in the three pilot countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Further, participants explored how young people that they accompany and form in Jesuit institutions can be effectively involved in offering a faith-inspired response and what kind of toolkit might help guide such response and activities.

The latest report of the second Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released last week in Tokyo, illustrated the impacts of a changing climate on both ecosystems and human systems. It gives the example of the floods of the Zambezi River in Mozambique in 2008 which left 90,000 people homeless. These droughts and floods have in recent years increased in both intensity and frequency. The Horn of Africa, for instance, experienced in 2011/2012, what was described as the worst drought in 60 years. The report goes on to highlight that climate change is impacting negatively on food security while multiplying existing health vulnerabilities, including insufficient access to safe water and improved sanitation.

In this context, inviting young people of faith in Africa to be part of the solution, and involving them in the design and implementation of activities in mitigating and adapting to climate change is both an imperative and a climate-smart investment now and for the future. Indeed, during the life of the project, CYNESA in collaboration with the pilot schools will run forums on climate change, with the students in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, incorporating a variety of proposed activities such as tree-planting, music, poetry and art.


 Some of the workshop participants at the conclusion of the two-day workshop in Nairobi, Kenya


The CYNESA Climate Change toolkit project is a step in this direction. ARC as our key partner have generously offered us seed-funding to get us started. We hope that as the project develops, we will be able to rope in Jesuit institutions in more regions of Africa, especially in Central and Western parts of the continent. We take this opportunity to invite other partners to support us in realizing this exciting project.


Allen Ottaro.


Typhoon Haiyan, COP19 and Fasting

Posted by on November 21, 2013 at 5:30 PM

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A few hours after the Philippines was hit, yet another cyclone hit Somalia on the Indian ocean coastline. Over one hundred deaths have been reported and thousand displaced from their homes, in a country that is already enduring decades of conflict.

These events were the backdrop to which the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), kicked-off in the Polish capital, Warsaw. This international two-week gathering is an annual event that brings together governments (or state parties as they are referred to in UN jargon), scientists, civil society organizations among other stakeholders, to map out solutions and put in place regulations to address the global climate crisis. 

The first week and opening of COP19 commenced with a moving speech from Mr. Yeb Sano, the chief negotiator of the Filipino delegation, who shared his personal grief and that of his country men and women affected by typhoon Haiyan. He called on COP19 to deliver on climate justice and announced that he was starting a fast (reported as “hunger strike” by mainstream media) until the COP19 showed positive outcomes. His announcement was picked up quickly by civil society organizations, which vowed to stand with Mr. Sano and the Philippines in pushing for ambitious outcomes to the climate negotiations. 

The Lutheran World Federation Youth, which has a delegation of young people at COP19 from Brazil, Liberia, India, the United States, Sweden and Poland, engaged different faith groups at COP19 whose representatives came together to embark on a fasting chain. Here are the key reasons for the interfaith call to fast for climate justice: 

  • we are fasting in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable who are disproportionately affected by extreme weather events; 
  • we are praying and fasting for the victims and survivors of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines,
  • as well as other people affected by extreme weather events all around the world; 
  • which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change; we are fasting, praying and meditating for a tangible and ambitious outcome to the climate change negotiations; 
  • we are calling for urgent action to bring sanity and ethics in the international climate negotiations





We at CYNESA have taken up this invitation and welcome you to join us and to build this international interfaith solidarity. As Cardinal Bergoglio wrote in a 2009 Lenten message: “fasting helps us overcome our indifference toward those who are homeless, hungry, or suffering in other ways. “We show no interest in their lives, their stories, their needs or their future. How many times did their pleading looks make us look the other way and walk by? When we get used to something we also become indifferent.”


Don’t worry if you are unable to fast this time! There will be more opportunities in the future and we will be sure to keep you posted!


Safeguarding creation to be major theme at WYD in Rio

Posted by on April 14, 2013 at 12:55 AM

The Catholic News Service reports that the environment wil be  a major theme at World Youth Day 2013, in Brazil. According to the CNS report, Corrado Clini, Italy's environment minister, has been working with the John Paul II Youth foundation, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Brazilian government and the Rio church's World Youth Day organizing team to promote the reflection of young people on the importance of biodiversity and protecting the environment. He also is working to encourage cooperation between several Italian and Brazilian companies to reduce the energy and water used at WYD and to recycle as much of the refuse they produce as possible.

At an April 4 news conference at the Vatican, Clini said the fact that the youth gathering will take place one year after the international community gathered for Rio +20 -- a U.N. sponsored conference on sustainable development -- is a great opportunity to rally the passion Catholic youths have for protecting the world God created.


As the United Nations attempts to draft and build consensus around a set of "Sustainable Development Goals" as a follow-up to the conference, "grass-roots support and participation is essential," Clini said.


"World Youth Day is the best context for expanding this vision of global solidarity," which includes a commitment by industrialized nations to moderate their consumption habits, promote development in poor countries and share with them the knowledge and technology they need to build their economies without threatening the environment.

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The Catholic Church can have a big impact on promoting the goals because it has an ability to bring moral teachings -- including those about safeguarding creation -- into the hearts, minds and daily lives of its faithful, the minister said.


WYD 2013 is scheduled for July 23-28. The special reflection on the environment is scheduled for the second day of the gathering. Clini, his Brazilian counterpart, scientists, theologians, U.N. officials and members of Catholic groups devoted to safeguarding creation will lead the reflection with young people.


At the end of the gathering, the youths are expected to issue a "manifesto for safeguarding creation," which will be drafted with assistance from Conventual Franciscan friars from Assisi, Italy.

This is definitely great news for us at CYNESA and we look forward to taking an active role in the special reflections on the environment at World Youth Day 2013.

Credit: Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

CYNESA at UN-Habitat 24th Governing Council Meeting

Posted by on April 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM

The 24th Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) will be held from 15 to 19 April 2013 at the UN-Habitat headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, under the theme of Sustainable Urban Development: The Role of Cities In Creating Improved Economic Opportunities For All, With Special Reference To Youth and Gender.

(Photo:UN Habitat)

The Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA), will be sending two representatives to the week-long meeting, as the theme is especially relevant to our work with young people.

Stay tuned for updates from the meeting and photos from the venue!

CYNESA takes part in UNEP meetings

Posted by on February 16, 2013 at 3:10 AM

Every year, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), hosts a meeting, the Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) at its Nairobi headquarters, bringing together hundreds of environment ministers, decision makers, scientists, civil society representatives and business leaders to discuss pressing global environmental matters.This year, the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) received a one-time accreditation from UNEP, allowing the network to be represented at GC/GMEF, February 18th-22nd, 2013. We also have the opportunity to participate in a preparatory meeting that gathers Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF), which has started this morning, 16th-17th February 2013.

As well as charting a course for a strengthened UNEP that will help transform a wide body of science into concrete policy action, the meeting will cover many pressing and emerging issues, including: sustainable consumption and production patterns and the post-2015 Development Agenda, financing options for chemicals and waste, and system-wide coordination on Rio+20 follow-up.

UNEP will launch new reports outlining emerging issues such as the global consequences of rapidly receding ice in the Arctic, the latest research on the impacts of chemical exposure on the hormone system of humans and animals, and an assessment of off-grid lighting in several countries around the world.

A major new UNEP-led technology initiative that focuses on the transfer of technology and expertise to developing countries in order to intensify the battle against climate change will be announced.*


CYNESA is represented by Henry Njeru and Everline Ombuna, core team members of CYNESA in Kenya, as well as the Executive Director, Allen Ottaro.

The 3 of us will learn as much as we can, take the opportunity to network and keep you posted with daily news posts..and of course..lots of pictures!

*Additional reporting by UNEP

Many Heavens, One Earth, Our Continent

Posted by on August 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

The Alliance for Religions and Conservation (ARC) has extended an invitation to CYNESA's Executive Director, Mr. Allen Ottaro, to participate in an event during which more than 25 faith groups from across Africa, will launch their long-term action plans on the environment.

Inspired by the Long-term Commitments for a Living Planet launched by 31 faith groups at ARC's Windsor Celebration in 2009, Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith groups will launch their own long-term plans at ARC's Many Heavens, One Earth, Our Continent celebration in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2012.


They include Christian and Muslim groups from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Hindu leaders are developing a plan for all of Africa (Hindus are present in 26 African countries).

CYNESA will take advantage of this opportunity to further network, and learn from the action plans that will inform our own planning meeting, slated for the first-quarter of 2013. To read more about ARC and the African Faith Commitments, go to:

CYNESA featured in EcoJesuit

Posted by on August 14, 2012 at 2:55 PM

EcoJesuit is an information service offered by Jesuits and friends, to promote greater awareness of our ecology and engagements through responsibility for how we live, deeper and more sensitive formation and engagement with an even broader global basis for action.In their April 16th edition, CYNESA was featured under programs and projects, describing our contribution as young Catholics towards addresing environmental concerns on the continent. To read the full article, and see more initiatives on EcoJesuit, go to:

Mji wa Furaha Silver Jubilee

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The National Catholic Youth Centre, Mji wa Furaha (Kiswahili for 'Village of Joy'), on the 8th of March, celebrated 25 years since it was established, at a colourful Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Nairobi, John Cardinal Njue, the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Charles Balvo, the Chairman of the Commission for Pastoral and Lay Apostolate who is also the Ordinary of Murang'a Diocese, Bishop James Maria Wainaina and the National Executive Secretary of the same Commission, Fr. Dr. Charles Odira.

In his homily, Cardinal Njue called on the young people to allow the word of God to grow and germinate in their hearts. He further invited them to remain close to God in order for them to be a manifestation of His presence, in fostering peace and unity in the country.

Rt. Reverend James Maria Wainaina, Bishop of Murang'a, pictured here with CYNESA members, Edna(L) and Roselyne (R)

The Apostolic Nuncio encouraged the youth to always serve God and to do good as they are the present and future of the Church. Drawing from Pope Francis' message for World Youth Day 2015, whose theme is "Blessed are the pure of hear, for they shall see God", he remined them to recognize that they are made in God's image.

Roselyne explains the mission of CYNESA

The CYNESA Kenya team of Edna, Alpha and Roselyne, was present at the celebration, interacting with the participants about CYNESA's work and the upcoming Lenten Fast for the Climate Campaign. During his visit to the Philippines, in January 2015, Pope Francis called on young people to be responsible stewards of creation, "Dear young people, the just use and stewardship of the earth’s resources is an urgent task, and you have an important contribution to make."

Roselyne and Alpha at the CYNESA desk where branded polo-shirts and information material were on display.

CYNESA will this year continue to promote the Church's message on ecological stewardship among young people, especially as we prepare for the release of the eco-encyclical, expected in June or July. So look out for the CYNESA team at the next major youth event in your diocese!!