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

  • Will We Walk in His Shoes: Responses to Laudato Si’

    In his papal encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis urgently asks “every person living on this planet” to see and take responsibility for what environmental degradation is doing to the earth ─ “our common home” ─ and the vulnerable poor. Pope Francis goes further and asks for changes in our economy and lifestyles in order to save our common home. He asks us to reflect on these types of questions: Do we see the environmental crisis that is causing among other things...

  • Earth Day, Climate Change, and Ecological Conversion: The Road beyond Paris

    On April 22, people around the world will commemorate Earth Day, which was first celebrated in 1970. On that day, the United States and China will join other governments to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. As the two biggest polluters in the world, the U.S. and China account for nearly 40 percent of the global emissions.At the other end of the spectrum, as island nations who are most vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme...

  • Support the Interfaith Climate Statement

    While this agreement represents a commitment from over 190 nations to lower their emissions and support those hit by climate change the hardest, it is only a first step in the process. We must now work to hold ourselves and our governments accountable to the steps necessary to accomplish the goals in the agreement. Show your commitment to caring for creation: sign the Interfaith Climate Change...

  • Protect Environmental Activists and their Communities

    For years, Berta and the Lenca communities fought to block the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam. The dam would have flooded large areas of land and cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for the Lenca peoples. Berta was one of many activists who had been persecuted and received death threats for her work to defend their sacred rivers, forests and lands from further desecration. Take Action for the protection of environmental activists and their communities!

  • Fast with Fiji

    On February 20-21, the island nation of Fiji was hit with a devastating, category 5 cyclone. At last count, UNICEF reported that Cyclone Winston, the worst storm on record to hit the southern hemisphere, has now left over 51,000 Fijians homeless, many without clean water or electricity. Columban missionaries have lived and worked in Fiji for over 60 years. Columban Father John McEvoy writes from Fiji, “The nation is numb, shell-shocked an...

  • Columbans Send Message of Mercy and Solidarity to Fiji

    With a week since Cyclone Winston hit and devastated the island nation of Fiji, reports continue to reveal the depth and breadth of the tragedy. Columban Superior General, Fr. Kevin O’Neill, offers prayers for the people and land of Fiji saying, "Our hearts ache for the suffering caused by Cyclone Winston. The images of human and environmental devastation urge responses of aid, mercy, compassion, love, and solidarity. On behalf of Columbans around the world, we extend our...

  • Global Catholic Climate Movement Anniversary

    Exactly one year ago, the Columbans in the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States helped give birth to the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), in anticipation of the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si: On the Care for Our Common Home. In May, Pope Francis met with the leaders of GCCM and endorsed our petition, inviting us to promote awareness among Catholics about the moral implications of the climate crisis. A month later, on June 18...

  • 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...