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

  • Support the GCF and Protect our Common Home

    On February 9th, President Obama released the final budget of his presidency. This jumpstarts the long process of funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2017. While it may not sound like the most exciting topic to follow, the budget and appropriations process significantly impacts some of the programs Columbans care about most deeply. One such effort is the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The Green Climate Fund is a global fund established to support the...

  • On Care for Our Common Home: Lenten Reflections on Laudato Si

    Last year, the Pope Francis released his groundbreaking encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, to much acclaim and celebration. Audiences, Catholic and beyond, studied the text for guidance on how our faith calls us to live in right relationship with creation and with our fellow humans beings. Here at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, we crafted a study and action guide on the encyclical, with questions for reflection along with calls to action. Appropriate for use for individuals and small groups...

  • Historic Climate Agreement in Paris Reached!

    Over the past few weeks, we have been closely covering the Paris climate negotiations, or the 21st annual United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP21). After months of pre-planning by member nations and two weeks of intense talks between climate negotiators, the conference released the final agreement on Saturday. What does this mean? In the final agreement, countries agreed to increase their individual commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of keeping global...

  • #Columbans4ClimateJustice

    We are now one week into the United Nations climate change summit. As negotiators from countries across the world meet in Paris to craft a hopefully binding agreement to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2° C, representatives from the Columbans are actively witnessing the proceedings. Join the voice of Columban witness today and call the White House to express your support for a legally binding, comprehensive climate change agreement! Father Charles Rue from...

  • Critical Climate Conference Begins Today

    Today is the opening of the 21st annual United Nations climate change conference! Referred to as the ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP), this gathering of world leaders will take place during the next two weeks. Taking place in Paris, the city will welcome 50,000 participants and 25,000 official delegates today for this historic summit. For the first time, world leaders will attempt to craft a legally binding agreement to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2° Celsius, in an attempt to...

  • UN COP 21 Summit Opens in Paris

    Today, world leaders are gathered in Paris for the U. N. Climate Summit (COP21), providing a window of opportunity for people around the world to raise their voices in calling for ambitious and binding international legislation to limit the effects of climate change before it is too late. Columbans are in Paris today for the opening. On November 29, a million or more men, women and children took part in the Global Climate March. They gathered in all the major capitols of the world, and...

  • Columbans Call for Just and Binding Agreements at the UN COP21 in Paris

    Columban General Council on the opening of the United Nations’ COP21 in Paris, joins Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’, faith leaders and millions of people around the world in calling for just and legally binding agreements by governments to limit human-induced carbon emissions which are changing Earth’s climate. Columban Superior General, Fr. Kevin O’Neill, “Our mission experience of living with poor communities that have been marginalized and the natural world that has been...

  • Protect the Environment: Join the Global “Countdown” to Paris!

    The countdown to the international climate negotiations in Paris, officially called the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), has begun. World leaders will gather in Paris from November 30th to December 11th to reach a universal agreement to reverse climate change. One of the topics of discussion will be the practice of fracking. Columbans in many areas of the world accompany poor communities that suffer from harmful mining practices...