How religious leaders in Africa can effectively drive climate action

climate action - climateaction

How religious leaders in Africa can effectively drive climate action

Climate change is one of the major challenges African communities face in this twenty-first century.

 

For most of these communities, it is already taking a toll on their already stretched resources, its impact posing a great threat to their very existence — a reality that makes climate action (both mitigation and adaptation) essential.

 

As affected communities formulate mitigation and adaptation strategies, it is imperative that they combine said strategies with awareness for true climate action to occur.

 

Since Africa is a highly religious continent with Christianity and Islam taking the lead in terms of popularity and dominance, it then becomes vitally important to involve religious leaders and bodies in the climate conversation.

 

Religious leaders are socially and politically influential and as such, can be useful tools in promoting climate action if they are properly engaged.

 

The thing is, religious leaders, as major coordinators in African society, have a very large role to play in the entire society per their influence because people tend to believe whatever they say.

 

So, if a religious leader decides to communicate with his members and tells them to take certain actions in order to mitigate climate change, those members are very like to obey because they believe that whatever comes from him is from God and therefore true.

 

It then becomes necessary to properly engage these religious leaders, for it is only when we communicate the reality of climate change to them through dialogue that we will instill in them that sense of responsibility for the environment and society that they shepherd.

 

By “properly engage”, we refer to the fact that religious leaders view climate change differently and the differing views are informed or influenced by their religious affiliations and convictions.

 

Hence, providing the necessary support and platforms for effective climate change education for these religious leaders will build climate change awareness and commitment in their local gatherings.

 

How can religious leaders support the climate change cause?

 

Religious leaders can play their part in the fight against climate change through awareness and financial support.

 

Awareness

 

Religious leaders can create awareness about climate change through preaching, teaching, and sensitization. They can teach people steps to take to protect the environment. If they are not well informed about the topic to teach it, they can invite someone who is.

 

An example is enlightening members of their religious communities on the importance of trees in absorbing carbon emissions and why it is important not to cut them but in cases when trees are cut, telling them to plant trees to cover up the loss.

 

They can also enlighten members on the activities they carry out that contribute to the changing climate and eco-friendly alternatives to those activities they can adopt.

 

Financial support

 

Religious leaders can organize fundraisers for victims of the climate crisis. It doesn’t only have to be their immediate members.

 

The funds can be sent to other communities that have and are dealing with harsh climate conditions. Charities could also be in form of shelter, food and clothes supplies, medicals, etc.

 

They could also donate to individuals and organizations who are innovating solutions and conducting research on ways to better manage the crisis.

 

Bottom line

 

We need to see religious bodies beyond their religious roles. We need to start involving them in conversations. We need to encourage them to include climate change discussions in their religious activities as a climate action strategy.

 

Protecting the planet is not only the right thing to do by humans but also by God. After all, it was God himself who created it.

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