Tackling global issues with nature as our guide

Through nature, God is guiding us in amazing ways - what is our response? (Photo by Erin Dueck)

COP gatherings held to discuss ways to protect creation

By Erin Dueck, Catholic Saskatoon News

Have you ever walked by the river, swam at a beach, camped in a park, or experienced nature in a special way?

Most people would agree that our planet is full of beautiful landscapes and creatures to explore and see. If you are like me, you just can’t wait to get outside whenever and wherever you can. Immersing oneself in nature is generally a peaceful and calming experience, yet there is always so much going on! From the buzz of insects in the air to the flow of the rivers and the slow growth of new leaves to the microbes in the soil, everything has a role and a purpose.

Erin Dueck reflects on the call to care for creation (Submitted photo)

One of the most incredible and impressive parts about the natural world is the inter-dependency and harmony between each aspect. Society does not always do a great job of teaching us this, but we are designed  to act just as nature does – to serve others by using our greatest and most unique gifts, skills, and talents.

I believe that through nature, God is guiding us in amazing ways, but we must be willing to spend time marvelling in His creation and doing what we can to sustain it, including the Earth and us as people.

From the individual level to the international level, all actions taken to protect creation make a difference.

Over the next couple of months, national leaders are gathering for three Conference of Parties (COP) to discuss ways to conserve precious areas of the world. (See: www.ducks.ca/stories/biodiversity/meet-the-cops/)

There are several international agreements (COPs) that exist to address environmental issues and they differ according to the area that they are aiming to protect. Two of the three 2022 COP conferences (COP14 and COP27) started in early November 2022 and the third (COP15) is set to begin in early December.

COP14 is focused on protecting wetlands and waterfowl habitat, COP27 is working towards combatting climate change, and COP15 is concentrating on conserving biological diversity. Ironically, the number does not have to do with the focus area, but rather the number of times that the specific convention has been held.

Therefore, the next time the ‘Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’ (COP15 in December 2022) meets, it will be titled ‘COP16’ instead. This also means that there have been significantly more international meetings to discuss climate change than wetlands or biodiversity. The frequency of each COP meeting varies according to coordination and necessity rather than on a set timeline (ie. annual).

The COP conferences are important in many ways, not only for the progress in addressing environmental issues, but also for international unity. Coming together from various parts of the world allows for numerous perspectives to be brought to the table and a variety of voices to be heard.

No matter what the global issue is, it is certain that people are suffering different experiences and consequences. Hearing and understanding the lives of other people helps us to grow in ways that we might not have thought to be possible.

For example, in Western society people often chase whatever item they want at the lowest cost possible. However, it is not uncommon that the cheapest items are also the most taxing to someone or something else in another part of the world. Clothing/textiles and single-use plastics are some of the most destructive industries that society relies on currently.

By engaging in international discussions, even as citizens that are not directly involved, we can learn how to be more appreciative of what we have and understand the experiences of other people. This may lead us to think more consciously about the actions we take with regards to how, what, where, and why we purchase certain items. Perhaps it is possible to re-use or re-purpose items in new ways or obtain goods that have been previously used by someone else instead of buying new. At the very least, items might be able to be sold, donated, given away or recycled. Each individual action, no matter how small, is a step in a positive direction, reconciling our relationship with others and with the environment – both of which I consider to be God’s beautiful Creations.

By being immersed in nature, we are presented with the opportunity to slow down and reflect on what is truly important.

Erin Dueck (Submitted photo)

Growing up, I spent a lot of time outdoors with my family and friends, but I don’t think I had this realization until the summer of 2017, when I worked at St. John Bosco Wilderness Camp for the first time. I won’t go into detail about the numerous benefits of summer camps here, but it was through hiking and canoeing in the boreal forest and Canadian Shield in Northern Saskatchewan/Treaty 6 territory that I truly came to appreciate the incredibility of the wilderness, the beauty of nature, and the necessity for protecting all aspects of the Earth.

Now I know that dirt, bugs, and going outdoors is not for everyone, but I hope that in your own way, you can challenge yourself to always grow in new ways, serving others by using our greatest and most unique gifts, skills, and talents. Through each individual effort, we can work towards greater inter-dependency and harmony.


(Erin Dueck is a member of St. Philip Neri Parish, Saskatoon and is actively involved in Project Timothy, a youth mentoring program in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon)