As part of activities to mark this year’s Season of creation, 68 youths from Benue state were trained on climate action and environmental sustainability at the first summer school on Environment in the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi. This was accomplished through a partnership between the Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP) and the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi’s Resource and Planning Commission (RPC). The five-day event, held from September 5th to September 9th, 2022 at the Divine Mercy Minor Seminary in Makurdi, began with an opening mass led by the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Most Reverend Wilfred Anagbe, who emphasized the importance of humanity’s stewardship of the mother earth and all its resources. He echoed Pope Francis’ idea of caring for our common home, which he articulated and elaborated on in his second encyclical, “Laudato Si.” calling on all to ecological conservation and charged all especially policy makers and business men and women to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor and embark on actions and policies that will protect the earth and the world’s poor. . The bishop announced that the Diocese of Makurdi will embark on massive Tree planting in the diocese.
In Laudato Si, Pope Francis writes, instead of perceiving mankind as having “dominion” over the environment, we must recognize that everything is interconnected and that all of creation is a “kind of universal family.” Nature cannot be viewed as something separate from people or as solely the environment in which we live. According to him, our social and environmental challenges are intertwined and must be addressed holistically.
The youths were drawn from 25 parishes of the Catholic diocese of Makurdi. They were exposed to the concept of environmental sustainability and climate change, and they were equipped with practical skills to formulate and advocate for climate solutions in their parishes, communities, and the state. The training modules at the summer school cover, among other things, an overview of environmental issues; understanding climate change; climate change mitigation and adaptation; and waste recycling.
In his closing remarks the Benue State Commissioner for Environment who was represented by the permanent secretary Mrs Beatrice Tsavmbu congratulated the participants and urged them to put to action all that they have learnt and pledged the support of the state ministry of Environment.
Both participants and organizers were satisfied with the summer school’s impact on the youth and the domino effect it will have on society in raising environmental consciousness and stewardship in the people. Barrister Mike Utsaha, chairman of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi’s Resource and Planning Commission (RPC), remarked that he was “impressed with the quality of facilitation and the diversity of participants” at the summer school. GIFSEP’s Mr. David Mike Terungwa expressed confidence that participants will go on to become Laudato Si animators in their local parishes, arousing both individual and communal environmental stewardship.
The inaugural summer school on Laudato Si was jointly organized by GIFSEP, Resource and Planning Commission, Citizens Climate International Nigeria, Gender and Environment Risk Reduction Initiative, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation and Gender Advocacy for Justice Initiative.