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

  • 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...

  • Columbans Celebrate Paris Agreement and Announce Pledge to Divest from Fossil Fuels

    On October 4, the European Union voted to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement, officially paving the way for the historic agreement to go into effect. With the EU’s approval, it crossed the threshold of 55 nations accounting for 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.Columbans around the world celebrate this momentous step on the part of many nations, including the United States, China, India and the EU, to bring the world one step closer to implementing this crucial...

  • Global Columban Missionaries Announce Pledge to Divest from Fossil Fuels

    Hong Kong, October 4, 2016. Inspired by Pope Francis and in honor of September’s Season of Creation and the Feast of St Francis, the Missionary Society of St. Columban pledges to take steps to divest from fossil fuels. In addition, we commit to putting resources into Positive Impact Investing alternatives. Pope Francis is leading the way for Catholic institutions to choose a Divest – Reinvest strategy when he writes in the encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, that...

  • On Journey with Pope Francis and St. Francis of Assisi

    As a native of New England, I have never lost my love of fall and its majestic beauty. Eagerly, I await the magic of leaves transitioning to red, yellow and orange colors, fall flowers blossoming and all God’s creatures preparing for winter. Back home, a neighbor’s yearly complaint that squirrels were taking his precious acorns now makes me laugh. He never did anything with those acorns other than sweeping them up and throwing them away to spite the squirrels. Looking back, he did...