“What then is being asked of us?...
We cannot continue to focus simply on preserving ourselves; rather,
the time has come for all of us to endeavour to heal our society and our planet,
to lay the foundations for a more just and peaceful world”
Message for the 56th World Day of Peace, January 1, 2023
Moving forward urgently needed endeavours to heal our society and our planet
People of faith and faith-based organizations participated at both UN conferences on climate change (COP 27) in Egypt November 6 – 20 and biodiversity (COP 15) in Montreal December 7 – 19 and urged greater action. The two UN conferences are over but work lies ahead to see that commitments are implemented and ambition increased. There is still a fast closing window to act on the linked climate and biodiversity crises to avoid irreversible impacts. Indigenous Peoples are leading the way on biodiversity protection. Looking ahead in 2023, faith-based organizations and others have put together various actions and resources that will help move forward our urgently needed endeavors “to heal our society and our planet”.
Breakthrough and failure at UN Climate Conference (COP 27)
Laudato Si’ Movement, Climate Action Network Canada, Global South communities, island states, and others around the world celebrated the landmark decision to set up a Loss and Damage Fund on the final day of COP27. Finally, climate-vulnerable countries least responsible and yet suffering the most on the frontlines of devastating floods, droughts, and other climate change disasters, will have a specific fund set up to help them with responding and rebuilding. Canada showed leadership by offering early support.
While progress happened on dealing with the consequences of the climate emergency, COP 27 “failed to address the root cause of the crisis” as there was no agreement to equitably phase out all fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) despite growing support from around 80 countries including Canada. There were 636 fossil fuel lobbyists registered at COP27. This year COP 28 will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s largest oil producers.
Laudato Si’ Movement supported efforts seeking ambitious emissions reductions and expressed deep disappointment with the failure to phase out fossil fuels. KAIROS (Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives) and For the Love of Creation sent 10 delegates to COP27 including Indigenous partners and youth from Turtle Island, and KAIROS Women, Peace and Security and global solidarity partners—whose voices have too often been muted at these climate change meetings which privilege Global North priorities. Videos are available to watch conversations with the delegates before they left and after they returned from COP 27. KAIROS has also posted their blogs.
Indigenous Peoples are leading the way on biodiversity protection
Biodiversity is the diversity of life on Earth which forms the web of life upon which we depend and which includes us. Around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction and nature is declining globally at unprecedented rates. We will all be affected by the projected decline in biodiversity, but it will have a worse impact on Indigenous Peoples, local communities, poor and vulnerable peoples. Indigenous Peoples make up 5 percent of the global population and yet care for and protect 80 percent of the Earth’s biodiversity.
Momentum is growing in Canada on Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas as well as Indigenous Guardians programs. About 90% of protected areas established in Canada in the last two decades have resulted from Indigenous partnerships or Indigenous leadership. To learn more, watch this inspiring TED talk on How Indigenous guardians protect the planet and humanity by Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative and a leading expert on the national movement of Indigenous-led conservation and stewardship.