Pope Francis in Kenya: Illegal ivory and diamond trade could destroy Africa’s environment, Pontiff warns

Pope Francis at UNEP
Pope Francis and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner at UN Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. 26 November 2015. Photo: UNEP/Adam Hodge

On the first full day of his Kenyan visit, Pope Francis has warned that the illegal trade in ivory and diamonds fuels conflict which could destroy Africa’s environment.

He also linked trafficking to “organised crime and terrorism” and warned world leaders not to let special interests prevail over common good in next week’s climate talks, during talks at the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi.

The Pontiff said that “Africa offers the world a beauty and natural richness” which inspired people to praise God, but that was being threatened, by “human selfishness of every type” as people’s poverty was being exploited to push them into the illegal trade of diamonds, rare metals, timber and ivory.

“We cannot be silent about forms of illegal trafficking which arise in situations of poverty and in turn lead to greater poverty and exclusion.” – Pope Francis

The pontiff also warned ahead of next week’s climate talks in Paris, that it would be “catastrophic” if the needs of poorer nations were ignored, saying: “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”