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A farmer tills and plants his farm in Machakos, Kenya, November 3 (CNS/Fredrick Nzwili)

As the United Nations climate change conference unfolds in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Catholic bishops in Africa are warning that there cannot be climate justice without land justice. Source: CNS.

The bishops of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar said yesterday that land, natural resources and the ecosystem were the main sources of subsistence for the people in Africa, but many did not have access to land due to perverse commercial relations and ownership.

At the same time, as the people struggled against the current global climate crisis, they were victims of land and water grabs, experienced pollution of their water and soil by pesticides, and were losing biodiversity and traditional seeds, according to the bishops.

“Communities share the experience that, as they claim their rights to land, they are being persecuted, which is leading to more violent conflicts, despair and instability,” Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, president of SECAM’s Justice, Peace and Development Commission, said in a statement titled, “No climate justice without land justice.”

The cardinal said it was clear the communities would be better off if their resources were not captured by powerful people and corporations and given away by weak public institutions.

“We are denouncing false solutions that deprive local communities of their livelihoods, their land rights and tenure. We join communities in mobilising against ill-advised large-scale land acquisition investments and their struggle against land grabs,” said Cardinal Ambongo Besungu, archbishop of Kinshasa.

The statement listed multinational companies it said were involved in land grabs in Congo, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Uganda and Tanzania.

While expressing solidarity with communities and territories affected by the “land grabs,” armed conflicts and resource wars, the bishops recommended climate actions that prioritise equitable and just changes in agricultural and mining sectors.


African bishops: No climate justice without land justice (By Fredrick Nzwili, CNS)