As part of their engagement for land rights which are also intrinsically connected with climate justice and the need for corporate regulation to ensure food security and a healthy environment, organisations active in the “Our Land is Our Life” Platform* are supporting an online pilgrimage and a caravan in West Africa.
Call for climate justice and solidarity
Since 2020, Bishops from the Regional Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA), through their General Secretariat, have been calling for a binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational companies and enforce laws that protect communities’ and women’s land rights. Within the context of the recent negotiations on a UN treaty on business and human rights, the UN COP26 Climate Summit, and the EU-Africa Summit in 2022, RECOWA, in collaboration with CIDSE and the Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), launched an online Pilgrimage for Justice on 27 October to connect Churches of West Africa with non-Church actors for a shared vision of human solidarity in support of the right of the most vulnerable and oppressed communities impacted by corporate impunity and climate change. The activities will conclude on 9 May 2022, during the 4th Plenary Assembly of RECOWA’s Bishops.
Online pilgrimage joining hands with CGLTE-OA caravan
Besides the online Justice Pilgrimage, a caravan of West African communities impacted by resource grabbing and climate injustice is currently travelling across different nations to remind us all of the need of “unity and brotherhood” in the face of land injustice and environmental destruction. The caravan is a bi-annual event led by social movements organised under the West African Global Convergence of Land, Water and Seeds Struggles (CGLTE-OA). This year, the caravan began its journey in Gambia on 20 November; it is passing through Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry and will converge in Sierra Leone on 11 December. Personal stories and testimonies from local communities affected by resource grabbing and corporate exploitation will be shared as well as successful agroecology, reforestation, and sustainable living programmes. During the caravan, parallel online activities will be organised with local Churches as well as conferences where communities, parishes, and dioceses will be able to show how they have been living Laudato Si’; they will be available on a dedicated Facebook page linked to the political and ecclesial processes of the online pilgrimage’s road map.
The sharing of stories of communities’ struggles against resource grabbing and climate injustice, embodies the struggles of the Church for social and ecological justice. Through these activities, the Church is calling its National and Diocesan Justice and Peace Commissions and the respective governments in West Africa, to increase their efforts and innovations in the assistance, protection and care of people from the harmful effects of land grabbing and expropriation.
- The “Our Land is Our Life” platform was established at the conference on “Land Grab and Just Governance in Africa” in Limuru/Kenya in 2015 which brought together Church and non-Church actors to exchange knowledge and strategies on land grabbing.. The coordination group is composed of leaders of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Convergence Globale des luttes pour la terre et l’eau en Afrique de l’Ouest (CGLTE), Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA), Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), the Pan-African Institute for Citizenship, Consumers and Development (CICODEV) and Friends of the Earth Mozambique.
- Press release on the launch of the online pilgrimage, RECOWA General Secretariat, 26 November 2021 (EN – FR – PT)
- Online justice pilgrimage launched, AEFJN, 4 November 2021
- Caravan launched, online justice pilgrimage progresses and RECOWA Church on the move, AEJFN, 2 December 2021
- Blogger Mho Diaby is following and documenting the CGLTE Caravan. You can check his posts in the dedicated Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mhocaravane
- NEW: Overview of AEFJN participation & experience in the Caravan West Africa
Photo credit: RECOWA