Environmental Justice

“To know Creation is to know the Creator.” –St. Columban

For more than 30 years, Columban missionaries have been at the forefront of protecting the environment from destructive practices and addressing the urgency of climate change. Our mission experience of living with the natural world and with communities that have been marginalized and exploited impels us to seek ways to restore right relationships with all of Creation.

We advocate for bold action to address Climate Change.

In particular, human-induced climate change is the most serious and pressing ecological challenge facing the world today. The reality of climate change compels us to both personal and structural changes.

Climate change, largely driven by our reliance on fossil fuels, has led to extreme weather events, rising sea levels, severe droughts, a loss of biodiversity, food insecurity, and higher rates of migration which affect the poor and vulnerable in nations across the world.

Columban Missionaries around the globe stand in solidarity with communities impacted by climate change. In Burma and Peru, missionaries watch as glaciers, a main water and irrigation source, continue to disappear. In the Philippines and Fiji, extreme weather events and rising sea levels threaten coastal communities where agriculture and fishing are a main source of economic stability. Severe droughts cause food and water shortages in Pakistan and the U.S.

We advocate for sustainable development and agricultural systems.

Across the world, in countries that are rich in oil, gas and minerals, extractive industries have inflicted lasting damage to poor and indigenous communities and to Creation. Based on their experience in communities negatively affected by mining and other extractive projects, Columbans challenge this model of development based on the intensive exploitation of natural resources.

Large-scale agribusiness has also been detrimental to the land and people. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) threaten the integrity of creation and the life God made good, and they have extremely damaging effects on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and economies throughout the world.

We advocate for the right to water.

According to the Catholic Church, the right to water, as all human rights, finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of assessment that considers water merely as an economic good. Water, the basis for all human life, is a sacred source of life we must protect. Without adequate access to clean water, the health, nutrition, and sanitation of poor communities, and especially women and children, suffer. Without water, life is threatened.

Environmental Justice Resources:


Environmental Justice

  • Novena for Earth Defenders - Day 8

    Women in Africa are courageously speaking out about their particular concerns in areas scarred by mining, and are pointing the way to a future of smaller-scale extraction of natural resources that benefits local communities and minimizes impact on Earth. We pray that their voices are heard in discussions about implementing global goals for sustainable development.

  • Novena for Earth Defenders - Day 6

    Residents of Flint, Michigan, have been dealing not only with contaminated water but also with the psychological ramifications of knowing that authorities ignored a massive public health hazard for far too long. We pray that we heed this warning, that we hold our elected officials to greater account and take actions on our own when necessary to protect our land, water, and communities‬.

  • Novena for Earth Defenders - Day 5

    The Internet, social media, and a fast-paced lifestyle too often cause relationships – with people, with Earth, and with God – to suffer. We repent that we’ve neglected our neighbors, the communities most impacted by extractive industries, and all creation. Mercy Sister Edia Lopez, who ministers with the Ngäbe people of Panama protesting a hydro-electric dam that threatens to flood their cultural heritage, calls us to change the nature of our relationships in order to achieve a new type of development that benefits people and Earth.

  • Novena for Earth Defenders - Day 3

    The Standing Rock Sioux and their allies, collectively known as the water protectors, were praying for months to change the minds and hearts of policymakers determined to build the Dakota Access Pipeline near the tribe’s lands. Their pleas at the construction site against both the desecration of their land and the potential risk to the water supply for millions of people were met with violent repression by a militarized police force.

  • Novena for Earth Defenders - Day 2

    Berta Caceres was a leader of the Lenca people in Honduras and a human rights defender who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. She is among more than 120 people who have been killed in Honduras since 2010 for taking a stand against dams, mines, logging, or agriculture on their land – murdered by state forces, security guards, or hired assassins. Countless others have been threatened, attacked, or imprisoned.