Protecting nature: start of the United Nations Biodiversity Summit
Along with the climate crisis, biologists estimate that we are driving species to extinction at a rate of 100 to 1,000 times their usual rate. “We do not have such a right” says Pope Francis in Laudato Si ‘(# 33). The UK is among the poorest 10% of countries in terms of biodiversity loss, having lost almost 50% from pre-industrial levels.
In addition to the UN COP26 Climate Summit in November, the UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 is about to begin. It will take place in two parts: October 11-15 online, then governments will meet face-to-face from April to May 2022 in Kunming, China. COP15 is a shorthand for the 15th meeting of the “conference of the parties” to the Convention on Biological Diversity – a treaty adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. COP26 is supposed to protect the global climate. COP15 has the equally vital task of preserving natural life so that it can be used in a sustainable and equitable way.
The St Colomban’s Missionary Society is one of the faith groups engaged in COP15. St Columban, the 6th century Irish missionary, preached that “if you want to know the Creator, look at creation”. Through generations of scientists, artists, activists and frontline communities, we are now beginning to understand that creation is defined more by the “community of life” than by any particular species or ecosystem. Losses of critical ecosystems like tropical rainforests and wetlands, as well as animal species, have accelerated even as governments, businesses, financiers and conservation groups seek effective ways to protect and protect them. restore more of the Earth’s lands and seas.
Biodiversity is the amazing variety of life on Earth. Most religions of the world understand that the well-being of each member of creation is interconnected. But despite this growth in our scientific and religious understanding, human destruction of the natural world continues. In 2019, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services estimated “that one million plant and animal species are at risk of disappearing within a few decades; that nearly three-quarters of the land and 66% of the marine environments have been significantly altered by humanity. and that over 85% of wetlands have been lost. “
The Colomban Mission Society believes that humanity must be guided from its earth-killing way of life to a more holistic and sustainable way of life. His missionary experience taught that all of creation forms an earthly community. We need an economic and social order that works together with all of God’s creation as well as a spirituality of care and relationship. People depend on nature, from the oceans to the wilderness, to provide clean air and water, and to regulate the precipitation that is vital for food crops. If too many ecosystems disappear, their essential life-sustaining services can falter, scientists warn.
Because plants absorb the carbon dioxide that heats the planet to thrive, better protecting or expanding natural areas is also one of the cheapest and most effective ways to slow climate change. The summit hopes to set both long-term goals for the mid-century and shorter-term goals for 2030 and, most importantly, push for them to be enshrined in national policies. Targets can also be set to eliminate harmful subsidies to agriculture, fishing and forestry, and reallocate that money for the benefit of nature, one more way to raise the necessary funds.
Colombians join international partners – including the Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, the Laudato Si ‘Movement, the Union of Superiors General (USG), the Union of International Superiors General (UISG) and national and local faith-based partners to have a strong voice calling for the care and protection of all life on the planet.
Convention on Biological Diversity – www.cbd.int/
The Healthy Planet, Healthy People petition, which integrates biodiversity and climate change – https://thecatholicpetition.org/
“The Lamentations of God’s Creatures – Catholic Social Teaching, Human Activity and the Collapse of Ecological Biodiversity” is a recent report by the Laudato Si ‘Research Institute at the University of Oxford on behalf of CIDSE, Cafod and of the World Catholic Climate Movement. www.cidse.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/THE-WAILING-OF-GODS-CREATURES-1.pdf
Podcasts on the biodiversity of Colomban: Jubilee for the Earth – https://columbancenter.org/jubileepocast
Death of the Life by Father Sean McDonagh
A 2005 call from a Colombian eco-theologian to action to save the 11,000 endangered species. The author considers the many habitats currently threatened with destruction, such as coral reefs and mangrove forests, as well as the different types of threatened species. He then examines the church’s position on these issues.
Prayer for biodiversity
Lord, we praise and thank you for the beauty and goodness of the creation that surrounds us. Help us to revere all creation, respecting the rights of all species and the integrity of the elements.
Your plundered land, with its rich variety of endangered species, is crying out for healing. Help us to be instruments of this healing, O Lord, and to redeem the evil we have done to the planet.
Help us to hear the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, and with all people of good will, let’s work together to find ways to protect and care for creation – ways to prevent habitat destruction. and soils, and to save species from extinction. Rain upon us your Spirit of wisdom for this crucial work; through Christ our Lord. Amen
Colomban JPIC, Philippines
Key words: Biodiversity, Sean McDonagh, Ellen Teague, Colombans
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