Columbans at UN meeting to protect Biodiversity

From 14th-29th March 2022, delegates of nearly 200 nations met in person in Geneva to work on measures to safeguard Nature by 2050, specifically Biodiversity. Faith-based organisations present at the UN meeting included representatives from the Missionary Society of St. Columban: Amy Echeverria, International Columban JPIC coordinator, and Cynthia Gonzalez, US Region Advocacy Coordinator for the Columbans.

Columbans Encourage Ambition at UN Biodiversity Meeting

The meeting was a pre-conference to COP15, the next UN Convention on Biodiversity. There were plans to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities are respected and to ensure that the voices of youth, women and other key stakeholders in care for biodiversity are listened to.

The Columbans have, for decades, highlighted the fragile state of biodiversity and have highlighted the words of Laudato Si: “The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.” LS #33

Fr. Sean McDonagh, the Columban eco-theologian, wrote a book on the topic in 2004: ‘The Death of life: Extinction is forever.’

“Everyone had high hopes for this Geneva meeting, especially knowing what it means for COP15 and what it means for the future of biodiversity,” reflected Cynthia Gonzales. “We must all continue to work very hard in the next few months to push the work forward for COP15” she added’; “there is a lot to be done specially at the national level.” Delegations, civil society and faith-based organisations are now preparing for COP15 at Kunming in China, which is expected later this year although no date was settled.

Columban highlights from the Geneva meeting included dialogue with other faith-based organisations and participating in an event honouring environmental rights defenders who have been harassed and even killed. The Columban representatives met Holy See representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Msgr John David Putzer, and also held meetings with some country delegations, including the UK delegation. Following a Columban workshop, the UK delegation had received letters from pupils of SS John and Monica Catholic Primary School in Birmingham, calling for biodiversity conservation, and these were much appreciated.

people hold a banner. Image in black and white
Cynthia at an 'Environmental defenders' vigil

Biodiversity Prayer

Lord, we praise and thank you for the beauty and goodness of creation around us.
Help us to reverence all of creation, respecting the rights of all species, and the integrity of the elements.
Your plundered Earth, with its rich variety of endangered species, is crying out for healing.
Help us to be instruments of that healing, O Lord, and to redeem the harm we have done to the planet.
Help us to hear the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, and together with all people of good will,
work together to find ways of protecting and caring for creation – ways of preventing the destruction of habitats and soil, and of saving species from extinction.
Rain down your Spirit of wisdom upon us for this crucial work; through Christ our Lord.


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