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 Bold Action on Climate Change

    In today’s hearing, Senators will ask the potential leader of the agency responsible for the protection of our clean air and water, the EPA, how he will combat climate change. As they do, you can make sure the next administration knows that people of faith expect bold action on climate change! Join Catholic Climate Covenant and many more faith partners in asking the new administration to answer Pope Francis’ call to all world leaders to act on climate! The petition will be delivered shortly after the inauguration...

  • Columbans Celebrate the United States’ Contribution to the Green Climate Fund

    Columban missionaries enthusiastically welcome the recent announcement of the United States’ continued contribution to the Green Climate Fund. As people of faith, we are called to address the unprecedented threat of climate change on behalf of all creation, but especially on behalf of the most vulnerable who contribute least to the problem. Climate change is a human-caused and urgent threat which necessitates a strong, moral response...

  • Columban Divestment and Positive Impact Investing

    We know both through our missionary experience, and by what global climate scientists tell us, that our human dependence on fossil fuels is a significant cause of climate change and its devastating consequences. Faced with this reality, in 2016, on the feast of St. Francis in a joint announcement coordinated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement of catholic institutions around the world, Columbans pledged to take steps to divest from fossil fuels and move towards positive impact investing...

  • 32 Faith-Based Organizations Share 2017 Environmental Vision

    Today, 32 religious organizations released a letter to the President-elect and his transition team, urging him to support policies that will safeguard God’s creation, address the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable, and fulfill our moral obligation to future generations in the United States and internationally. Though the coalition represents a diverse array of religious traditions...

  • Finding Dory and Climate Change

    As I approach the end of my internship here at the Columban Center, I find myself reflecting on all of the many ways in which I have grown since day one. Just a few months ago I knew only the basics about climate change and climate change policy. Now, I understand so much more about the state of our global climate and what we can do to take care of it. This internship has helped me to grow by forcing me to focus on an issue that I had not previously given much thought to...

  • Climate Change Silences

    With the completion of the presidential debates and Election Day just around the corner, the issue of climate change is weighing heavily on my mind. Whoever wins the election will have the power to transform the climate change debate. Last November, the international community reached a landmark agreement, the Paris agreement, which aims to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, promote adaptation to climate change, and hold warming to under 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels...

  • Impacts of Climate Change on the Most Vulnerable

    On the second day of my environmental justice advocacy internship here at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion about the effects of climate change on Latino Communities in America. Coming into my internship I was uneasy with the topic of environmental justice. Yes, I understood climate change and its current and potential disastrous impacts, but I had no personal experience with climate disaster. I could not...

  • Thank You for Your Commitment to Creation!

    Yesterday marked the Feast of St. Francis and the conclusion of this year’s Season of Creation. Thank you for sending pictures with your Columban Creation Covenant and showing us how you committed to caring for creation this September! Here are a few highlights from our Season of Creation Campaign! The celebration of Season of Creation may be over, but our commitment to our common home must continue. Now, more than ever we must take seriously our responsibility...