422 April is observed as World Earth Day. The first Earth Day was marked 50 years ago (1970) in the United States of America. Half a century on, the state of our Common Home continues to deteriorate mainly because of human activities. The theme for the 2020 Earth Day is “climate action.” From the Amazonia in South America to the Congo Basin in Central Africa, human beings continue to ravage the Mother Earth, often for greedy-selfish reasons. The impacts of human activities on the environment – from extreme weather events to natural disasters continues to be felt, especially by the most vulnerable populations in the more impoverished regions of the world. The world is currently facing the greatest health and economic challenge in recent history. It is not rocket science to figure out the correlation between the coronavirus pandemic and human activities on the environment. As long as humans continue to invade the natural habitat of other species, the prospect for cross-transmission of viruses like the COVID-19 from animals to humans is inevitable. The earth, like a good mother, continues to nourish us; it is, therefore, imperative that as responsible children, we care for her.5

On 24 May, we commemorate the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical, Laudato Si. To celebrate the richness and challenges of Laudato Si, the Pope invited the 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide to join a week (May 16-24) of celebration and action in commemorating the fifth anniversary of “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

Read Pope Francis’ Post-Amazonia Synodal Exhortation, Querida Amazonia



61 September is observed as the International Peace Day around the world. To keep a focus on the urgency of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace in the world, the UN chose, “climate action for peace” as the theme for the 2019 International Day of Peace. In his message to mark the International Peace Day, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, pointed out that peace today faces a new danger, that is, the climate emergency. He cautions that climate change threatens our security, our livelihoods, and our lives.

As often the tradition, the UN Secretary-General began the day with a little ceremony which includes the ringing of the Peace Bell in the UN Peace Garden at the UN Headquarters.

 Read more:

The UN Secretary-General 2019 Peace Day Message:

Youth Climate Strike


Sr. Amarchi Ez

There were several climate-related events around New York and beyond ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit. One such event worth noting is the Youth Climate Strike which took place on 20th September in over 150 countries across the globe. An estimated 4 million young and not-so-young people around the world participated in the youth climate strike. Many Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur marched in solidarity with the


Sr. Amarachi Ezeonu at the NYC Climate Strike


young people in cities like New York, Ipswich, Washington DC, Boston, and other cities across the US and beyond. It was a privilege to march with so many young people for “Our Common Home” The NYC march culminated with Greta Thunberg’s speech. Greta is a 16-year old Swedish climate activist who has galvanized a massive global movement on the environment since she first began her activism in front of the Swedish parliament about a year ago. Click HERE to watch Greta’s NYC speech.



4The UN Climate Action Summit with the theme, “Climate Action Summit 2019: A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win” was convened by the Secretary-General on 23 September. The aim of the summit according to the UNSG, was to challenge states, regions, cities, companies, investors, and citizens to step up action in the areas of the energy transition, climate finance, and carbon pricing, industry transition, nature-based solutions, cities and local efforts, and resilience.

The UNSG indicated before the summit that only countries that came with policy plans to reduce carbon emissions are allowed to address the summit. In his words, “I want to hear about how we are going to stop the increase in emissions by 2020, and dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero by mid-century.”

A report released by the UN Development Programme just ahead of the summit warns that climate change is heating harder and sooner than forecast. Many scientists believe that the climate situation has now reached a crisis or an emergency level.

Read more: The UN Climate Summit:

Greta Thunberg (Young Climate Activist) at the Opening of the Climate Action Summit:

The 2019 UN Climate Report, “The Heat is On”:



15 June is observed as the World Environment Day. The theme for the 2019 Environment Day is, “Beat Air Pollution.” The World Health Organization estimates that over seven million people die each year from illnesses linked to air pollution. Nine out of every ten people around the world breathe bad air. There are several causes of air pollution. While a few are caused by natural events, many are as a result of human activities.  Protecting our environment is crucial to the survival of the human race and other species who share the earth planet with us. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, was unequivocal in his message to world leaders and other stakeholders to mark the 2019 World Environment Day.  His words; “It is time to act decisively. My message to governments is clear: tax pollution, end fossil fuel subsidies, and stop building new coal plants. We need a green economy, not a grey economy.”

Issues related to the environment has continued to gain more attention at the UN since2 the first conference (Conference on the Human Environment) was convened in Stockholm, Sweden, on 5 June 1972. On 5 December of same year, the  General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 5 June as the World Environment Day. The purpose for observing World Environment Day, according to the UN Environmental Programme is to raise awareness and generate political momentum around growing concerns such as the depletion of the ozone layer, toxic chemicals, desertification, and global warming.

Human beings are both “creatures and moulders of their environment, which gives them physical sustenance and affords them the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social, and spiritual growth” – UN. How are you contributing to creating cleaner air and greener environment where you live?

Read more:

“Breath of Life:” Video by the World Health Organization on how air pollution impacts the human body:

Air pollution – a major global public health issue:




April 22 is observed as the International Mother Earth Day. Mother Earth Day according 3to the United Nations is commemorated each year to remind us that the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2009, to designate April 22 as Mother Earth Day in recognition of our collective responsibility as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration; to promote harmony with nature and the Earth, to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity. Since the earth sustains us, we all have a responsibility to protect her. Every single day should, therefore, be Mother Earth Day. So, take an action today to save our beautiful planet from the impending catastrophe of climate change. Celebrate Earth Day today. Think Green! Act Green!

To accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September 2019.

Read more:

UN Earth Day:

UN News :

Mother Earth by Jane Goodall:


01By Colleen Cloonan Swain: Women’s Leadership Development and Advocacy Associate Mercy International Association: Mercy Global Action at the UN: While coinciding with the UN migration conferences in Morocco, displacement due to climate change was to be addressed at COP 24 in many forms. There continues to be widespread recognition internationally about how climate change has been and will affect the number of people migrating both internally within a country and to different countries. This year’s COP stressed the issue of “just transition” for workers as they move away from fossil fuels towards other forms of employment and decent work; this creates internal displacement as countries move towards more sustainable means of energy. The Silesia Declaration on “just transition” was signed by 50 countries and noted in the final COP text.

Furthermore, “At the Paris talks in 2015, countries agreed to establish a taskforce to 02provide recommendations on averting, minimising and addressing climate-related displacement…The recommendations of this task force were submitted and discussed in September at a meeting of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM), the formal mechanism at the UNFCCC for addressing the loss and damage caused by climate change. They were then endorsed at this year’s COP as an annex to the WIM’s final text, which “invites” countries to consider the recommendations.” It is our hope that loss and damage continues to be addressed and reviewed with more urgency.

Many UN Agencies and countries of Asia-Pacific stressed the theme of climate displacement through hosting events entitled “Climate Induced Human Mobility: Taking Stock of 3 years discussions under the UNFCCC”, “Voices from the climate frontlines: Protecting the most vulnerable and furthest behind” and “Living in the Face of Climate Change: From the Pacific Islands to the World”.

For more information on climate displacement see UNHCR’s “Key Concepts on Climate Change and Disaster Displacement or Sierra Club’s “Women on the Move in A Changing Climate.

Some events may be found via


01By Colleen Cloonan Swain: Women’s Leadership Development and Advocacy Associate Mercy International Association: Mercy Global Action at the UN: This past December, I was honored to attend the 24th Session of the Conference of Parities of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as COP 24. One of the main agenda items for this year’s conference was the finalization of the “Katowice Rulebook” which defines how climate action in the Paris Agreement is to be implemented and accounted for decades to come. Going into the conference, I knew these were ambitious goals but they were achievable with international cooperation and commitment.

 What were the Outcomes?



  • Within the final text of the “Katowice Rulebook” there is no mention of human 02rights, despite the recognition of human rights within the preamble of the Paris Agreement. Negotiators were not willing to mix social policies and climate policies despite the two influencing one another.
  • Finance, the next contentious theme of COP 24, resulted in permissive texts giving wealthier Member States more flexibility with their contributions and reporting. Agreements were made to conduct negotiations on climate finance every two years after 2020.
  • Despite widespread support and recognition of the 1.5° IPCC report, four Member States (Russia, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Kuwait) were not willing to heed the urgency and need for increased ambition to stay below this temperature limit. As a result, the final text does not “welcome” the report but welcomed its “’timely completion” and “invited” countries to make use of the report in subsequent discussions at the UNFCCC’ (See CarbonBrief).
  • Although talk emphasized increased ambitions towards reducing carbon emissions, some Member States fell into the trap of placing profits over the people themselves. One strong testimony against this was from 15-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden who stated “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.” Watch her full speech here..


03Despite setbacks there were some positives at COP 24 as well.

For one, Member States agreed to the launch of a facilitative working group that will scale up consideration of the experiences of local communities and indigenous peoples with climate change and efforts to respond to it. Additionally, decisions will also be made at COP 25 in Chile regarding the Escazu Agreement, Latin America and the Caribbean’s first regional environmental treaty, which aims to protect the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. These are important steps in the right direction as human rights and environmental defenders continue to risk their lives across the world.

There were also many inspiring showcases of ecosystem-based approaches and systems to aid waste reduction and promote sustainable consumption and production in many country pavilions, as well as knowledge from local communities shared (See useful resources on page 4). Lastly, the voices of civil society and youth were both strong and motivational in both the ministerial plenary sessions and events. The large presence of both civil society and youth focused discussions on ‘people over profit/polluters’ and the urgency to increase climate ambition (see picture above).

Beyond COP24

 Read more:

CarbonBrief Clear on Climate

Climate Action Network International:


6At the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, on 21 December 2015, world leaders who are Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a landmark agreement to accelerate actions and commit needed resources for a sustainable low carbon future. Progress towards achieving these goals has been very slow coming. Experts are now warning that we are running out of time to save our planet from the destructive impacts of climate change. The effects of climate change are upon us. Extreme weather events such as floods, hurricanes, heat waves, earthquakes, etc., are being recorded at an alarming rate in different parts of the world that even climate change skeptics are now beginning to believe that all is not well.

From December 2 – 15, world leaders, experts, activists, and other stakeholders will 7gather again in Katowice, Poland, for the Katowice Climate Change Conference (COP 24), to deliberate on a collective action plan to realize those critical commitments made by all the countries of the world in Paris, in 2015.

Read more:

‘COP 24’ UN Climate Change Conference: What’s at Stake and What you Need to Know:

UNFCCC Katowice Climate Change Conference:



4 Two years into the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, (COP23) was held in Bonn, Germany, from December 6 to 17. Against the background of the  horrific natural disasters around the world in recent months, there was a unified call by participants at the Conference to “hold to the path of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.” The effects of climate change are undeniably being felt by billions of people around the world, especially those already living in the most impoverished, vulnerable parts of the globe. For people living in Small Island Countries, the impacts of climate change are daily realities as they watch their homes gradually submerge in water.

In his opening remarks at the COP23, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres5 described climate change “as the defining threat of our time.” It is therefore, our duty — to each other and to future generations — is to raise the ambition to combat it.”

The conference ended on Friday, November 17, with participants expressing a renewed sense of urgency and the need for greater ambition to tackle climate change.

Read more;

United Nations Climate Change Conference:

Draft Outcome Document: