At the end of the seminar named the Pan-African Refresher Program on integral ecology, organized by the Union Catholique Africaine de la Presse/African Catholic Union of the Press (UCAP) and its Ugandan section from November 5 to 11, 2023 in Kampala, in Uganda, participants reflected on current environmental challenges and committed to saving the earth.
“Contribution of Journalists and Media Practitioners Toward an Integral Ecology According to the Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ of Pope Francis” was the theme of this seminar which brought together journalists, communicators and other stakeholders from the media sector on environment from Ghana, Nigeria, Oman, Brazil, Germany, Togo and Uganda.
The main objective of the seminar was to “strengthen the capacities of media professionals and propose effective approaches to solving environmental problems which are an integral part of the sustainable development of planet Earth.”
At the opening of the proceedings, Togolese journalist, Charles Ayetan who is the President of UCAP Africa and his counterpart, Charles Ndawula, President of UCAP-Uganda, welcomed the participants and guests, and thanked the partners – the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome, the Dicastery for Communication and the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, Vatican City, the Catholic Church in Uganda, SIGNIS (a world Catholic Association for Communication), the Centenary Bank Uganda, Ulrika Guest House, Kisubi, among others.
Catholic Journalists for an Integral Ecology
In his message to the participants at this seminar, Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City, congratulated the organizers and partners for the theme which “underlines the importance of the role of communication in taking decisions, awareness of the challenge of this time that we face and the role that each of us has in overcoming it together.”
From Laudato Si (2015) and beyond, Dr. Ruffini referred to the apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum issued on October 4, 2023, eight years after Laudato Si, and stated that: “It is only together we can find adequate responses to the crisis we face, while the world we live in is collapsing and is perhaps close to the breaking point” (Laudate Deum n°2). He also called for jointly confronting the impact of climate change, which is increasingly affecting the lives of so many people, and also fighting against fake news that pollutes communication around the world.
In his introductory remarks, Card. Michael Czerny, S.J., Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development told the participants that “in your reflection on Laudato si, I encourage you to also consider Laudate Deum and Fratelli Tutti.”
The Cardinal said Pope Francis called for a truly integral ecology that “always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice into debates on the environment, in order to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Speaking about “ecological education” in Laudato Si, he said that “communicators can help those who educate and inform” and invited journalists to “collaborate with families and parishes, organizations and projects.”
Promote Ecological Education
“Ecological education can take place in various contexts: at school, in families, in the media, in catechesis and elsewhere,” recalled Card. Czerny before urging Catholic communicators, according to Laudate Deum, to take up the challenge of contributing to providing a response to new problems and reacting with global mechanisms to environmental, public health, cultural and social challenges, in particular to consolidate the respect for the most basic rights, human rights, social rights and the protection of our common home.
At the opening ceremony, Wakiso District Council Chairman, Matia Lwanga Bwanika raised some questions about environmental challenges in Uganda and other African countries and urged participants to think seriously about the sources of the ecological problems and to make suggestions to protect our planet.
“Quoting the holy Pope, John Paul II, Pope Francis invites us to ecological dialogue and action in order to strengthen the conditions for an integral ecology to achieve sustainable development,” noted the President of UCAP. He invited the stakeholders “to work together, with courage and in a spirit of collaboration, creativity and innovation” to carry out the projects that would result from the work of the meeting.
Ecological crises and their consequences
During the work, the participants reflected on the causes and effects of ecological crises in the countries of Africa and other continents: the devastation of forests, pollution, floods which accentuate poverty and the vulnerability of certain segments of the population.
The work consisted in particular of following thematic presentations with time for discussion and proposals for solutions.
“Understanding the encyclical Laudato Si of Pope Francis and the contribution of media and communication professionals for an integral ecology in favor of sustainable development” was the theme of the main message at the seminar, addressed by the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J. His message was accompanied by a series of questions on ecological issues, an opportunity for participants to reflect and propose solutions. The session was moderated by Richard Bwanika (Uganda).
One of the aims of the pan-African seminar was to address “the media and the preservation of the dignity of migrant workers” from the angle of integral ecology according to Laudato Si, a theme presented by Nigerian Professor, Ben Nnamdi Emenyeonu, a University lecturer in media and communication, in Muscat, Oman.
Ecology and migration
Indeed, among the millions of migrant workers seeking better economic and living conditions in various regions of the world, “the majority are people pushed by unemployment or displaced by conflicts, persecution, but also by ecological disasters, poverty and the despair that accompany them,” lamented Prof. Emenyeonu, who spoke of ecological crises and their impact on vulnerable people, including migrants.
Father John Kennedy Onoba, Director of the Laudato Si Comboni Center (Uganda) presented “the encyclical Laudato Si and how journalists can build informed communities on integral ecology”, while a young Ugandan, John Hillary Balyejusa, an activist of environmental matters, shared his experiences on “collaborative work to create content with a view to promoting integral ecology”.
Participants reflected on the creation by UCAP of a pan-African media platform to promote integral ecology. In this perspective, they benefited from the expertise of the Catholic Media Council (Cameco) based in Germany, through a communication from Fabiola Ortiz dos Santos, who is in charge of English-speaking Africa at Cameco. She presented her institution and took the participants through the development and implementation of projects.
The theme “Reporting on Climate Change in Uganda” was Peter Araali Akugizibwe’s presentation. Peter is a journalist and promoter of the “Western Media for Environment and Conservation” project (Wemeco). He made proposals on media coverage of the environment and encouraged media professionals to “solution journalism”.
Short films on ecology and the resulting crises were shown to participants by film critic, Charles Ayetan, followed by debates.
Finally, professional and tourist visits allowed participants to discover Laudato Si Center Comboni (Uganda), a project of the Comboni missionaries of the Heart of Jesus launched in January 2023; the headquarters of Leadership magazine (a Catholic magazine in Uganda which has been published since 1956), the shrine and Basilica of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda in Namugongo, the shrine and minor Basilica of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda in Munyonyo and the St. Mary’s Cathedral, Rubaga, Kampala.
At the end of the seminar, the participants of the UCAP Refresher Program made resolutions and recommendations for the attention of all stakeholders involved in the environmental sectors.
Kampala (Uganda), November 10, 2023
The Organizing Committee
RECOMMENDATIONS AND RESOLUTIONS
During the work of the seminar called the Pan-African Refresher Program on integral ecology, organized by the African Catholic Union of the Press (UCAP) from November 5 to 11, 2023 in Kampala, Uganda, participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Oman, Brazil, Germany, Togo and Uganda, made recommendations and resolutions with a view to safeguarding planet Earth.
Considering current global warming, which are mainly caused by human activities, such as energy production, industry, transport, agriculture, deforestation, etc.;
Considering the ecological crises around the world and its devastating consequences on nature and humans;
Considering the initiatives of the United Nations, international organizations and governments;
Considering the magisterium of the Catholic Church, in particular its social doctrine of the Church and in particular the encyclical Laudato Si, with the apostolic letter Laudate Deum, and the encyclical Fratelli Tutti of Pope Francis;
We, Catholic professionals in the media, communication and environment, make the following recommendations:
To international organizations and civil and political authorities
- To continue actions in favor of the protection of the environment and the ecosystem with a view to an integral ecology;
- To support the initiatives of public institutions and civil society organizations, including individual and collective, such as awareness campaigns for environmental protection, reforestation campaigns, etc.
To religious leaders and believers of all religious faiths
- To participate and/or organize awareness campaigns for environmental protection, reforestation campaigns, etc.;
- To work more to facilitate access and understanding of documents relating to the protection of the environment and the safeguarding of planet Earth which welcomes all beings, including all humans.
To media and communication professionals, and environmental stakeholders
- To participate in ecological education through their mission to inform, train and entertain;
- To initiate and implement projects likely to contribute to the protection of the environment and the preservation of the earth;
- To investigate, produce and disseminate media content on ecological crisis situations which, by extension, cause, fuel and aggravate other related crises including migratory, economic and health crises, with their share of consequences on the ecosystem.
To all people and communities
- To consider and encourage programmes on degradation and devastation of nature
- To propose alternatives to behaviours and situations that pose a risk to the ecology and populations, particularly the most vulnerable.
At the end of the work of the Pan-African Refresher Program on integral ecology organized by the African Catholic Union of the Press (UCAP) from November 5 to 11, 2023 in Kampala, Uganda, we, media and communication practitioners, with the support of our current and potential partners, concerned about the protection of the environment and the safeguarding of planet Earth, make the following resolutions:
- Disseminate the documentation generated by this pan-African seminar on integral ecology;
- To restore the knowledge and experiences acquired during the work of the UCAP Refresher Program in Uganda;
- To develop innovative and creative projects with a view to contributing to actions to promote an integral ecology with a view to sustainable development.
Kampala (Uganda), November 10, 2023
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Catholic Union of the Press (UCAP).