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Moving forward urgently needed endeavours to heal our society and our planet

“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
Pope Francis

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.

This talk was presented at a TED Salon event given in partnership with Nia Tero. Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative; a leading expert on the national movement of Indigenous-led conservation and stewardship. Learn More: www.ted.com

Deal reached at COP 15 to protect nature 

On December 19th nations worldwide agreed on a landmark set of measures to address the dangerous loss of biodiversity. The 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)--chaired by China and hosted by Canada in Montreal—adopted the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF) as well as a series of related agreements. By 2030, the GBF aims to achieve four goals and 23 targets that include:

  • Protecting at least 30% of Earth’s lands, oceans, coastal areas and inland waters; 
  • Reducing harmful government subsidies by $500 billion annually;
  • Significantly reducing overconsumption and waste, cutting food waste in half;
  • Raising “international financial flows from developed to developing countries… to at least US$ 30 billion per year by 2030”.


The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) celebrated the deal and praised the "strong language on respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities" in the Framework. They also called for direct access to adequate resources to help achieve it.

Faiths at COP 15 work together to protect the web of life 

Faiths at COP15, a coalition of faith-based organizations, also celebrated the deal as it recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities as well as the need for “a whole of society, participatory, and inclusive approach”. Some aspects were not as ambitious as the coalition had hoped including that the mechanism for increasing ambition and action is voluntary.

COP 15 was the first time a coalition of faith-based organizations from almost every major faith tradition participated in a UN biodiversity conference. Faiths at COP15 hosted several events at the Faith Pavilion inside the COP 15 conference centre and recordings are available to watch. Over 25 organizations participated in Montreal and over 50 organizations endorsed the most recent Multi-Faith Response to the draft Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which was under negotiation at COP 15. These policy recommendations were shared with Ms. Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, at a December 12th meeting. 


Healthy Planet Healthy People Petition delivered at COP 15

At that same meeting, Laudato Si’ Movement delivered the Healthy Planet, Healthy People Petition as well as the African Bishops’ (SECAM) statement to Ms. Elizabeth Mrema. The petition was signed by more than 200,000 people and more than 430 partner organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Catholics. The team also presented the petition and statement to the Head of Kenya Delegation and the Assistant Deputy Minister for Environment and Climate Change Canada Stephen de Boer. 

Agnes Richard, the Coordinator of Mouvement Laudato Si' Movement Canada (MLSM Canada), also spoke with the Assistant Deputy Minister and delivered the MLSM Canada statement. Agnes has posted her reflections in a blog series about COP15. 

           December 10th March for Biodiversity and Human Rights in Montreal 
led by Indigenous Delegation and joined by people of faith.

New Laudato Si’ film “The Letter” featured in events at UN Conferences

The new Laudato Si’ film “The Letter– A Message for our Earth” was featured at events hosted by Laudato Si’ Movement at both the UN conferences on climate change and biodiversity. The 80-minute documentary was produced by Academy Award-winning producer Off the Fence and Laudato Si’ Movement with collaboration of the Vatican. The film is free to watch on YouTube, and offers subtitles in five languages and dubbed versions in French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. 

At the press conference for the film launch in Rome, Cardinal Michael Czerny, head of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, explained that in the seven years since Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si’ the environmental crisis has significantly worsened. The Vatican sent a letter to leaders around the world whose voices are usually ignored in environmental decision-making—the youth, the poor, Indigenous Peoples and wildlife (scientists). They were invited to Rome to dialogue with Pope Francis and to share their personal stories showing the ecological crisis happening right now. The film calls all people to protect our common home.

Anna Johnson, North America Senior Programs Manager, and Caroline Kiiru, Biodiversity and Climate Change Campaign Manager, representing Laudato Si’ Movement and promoting The Letter film at the December 10th March for Biodiversity and Human Rights in Montreal during COP 15.

Suggested actions and resources to help “heal our society and our planet”  

  1. Faith communities and other groups are encouraged to host a screening of The Letter to facilitate dialogue and action on care for our common home. Lent, Earth Week (April 16-23) or Laudato Si’ Week (May 21-28) offer good timing possibilities. Registration is required on the website to receive a link to the film version for public screenings which does not need a license or contain any copyrighted music. Registering public screenings also provides access to a recorded training, toolkits and other resources to support event organizers. Explore together putting into practice one or more of the reflection and action suggestions on The Letter film website or from the ones listed below.

  2. Participate in Give it up for the Earth This faith-in-action campaign organized by Citizens for Public Justice and For the Love of Creation runs from February 22 to April 6, 2023. It raises awareness about climate change and mobilizes people across Canada to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, engage in acts of solidarity, as well as sign and collect signatures on an open letter urging federal government action such as more ambitious climate action targets, support for climate justice legislation and protection of Indigenous rights. Additional resources include a faith and climate reflection, decolonization and just transition resources as well as guides for reducing one’s GHG emissions and ecological footprint. A webinar is planned for March 23rd on Preserving Biodiversity: Creation Care from Faith to Action.

  3. Lent Resources to facilitate ecological conversion:  Laudato Si’ Movement resources include a Lent calendar with prayers, reflections and actions based on weekly themes. Catholic Climate Covenant has an extensive list of Lent resources.

  4. Join a network of people to work together on caring for our common home. Explore and consider these possibilities:
  5. The Canadian government has outlined 31 Protect Nature Challenges and invited individuals and families to join them in protecting nature by choosing some of these actions to practice in daily life. Short guides with further resources and links are provided for each action which include:
    • Rethink your consumer habits
    • Save money and save nature
    • Stop waste and Shrink your food waste
    • Protect biodiversity from home.

  6. Faith & the Common Good offers many practical educational tools & services to reduce the ecological footprint of faith communities including Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS) program resources, a DIY Walkthrough Audit and numerous gardening resources that help support local biodiversity. 

  7. Learn more about and show support for Indigenous-led Conservation at the Land Needs Guardians website organized by the Indigenous Leadership Initiative. The website has many videos, resources, including How to Be an Ally of Indigenous-led Conservation, as well as a statement than can be signed to show support for Indigenous-led conservation initiatives, including Indigenous Guardians programs and Indigenous Protected or Conserved Areas. Supporting this work helps to address the biodiversity and climate crises as well as move forward on healing and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

  8. KAIROS Canada continues to call for support of its letter-writing campaign to end environmental racism which was promoted during the Season of Creation and in connection with the KAIROS / For the Love of Creation COP27 Delegation.

  9. Learn about and consider endorsing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty: Last November religious leaders presented a multi-faith letter calling on world leaders to develop and implement a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, adding their endorsement alongside over 60 cities (including Toronto), 1,500+ civil society organisations, 101 Nobel Laureates, 200 health institutions as well as 3,000 scientists and academics. Laudato Si’ Movement is inviting Catholic support for the Treaty and has produced several resources. Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., head of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development endorsed it at a press conference last July. 


“Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change… A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.”

-Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ # 202.

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