November 30, 2015, Paris, France – A delegation of four U.S. Dominican Sisters – including Adrian Dominican Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, and Elise D. García, OP – are in Paris, representing approximately 4,000 to 5,000 US Dominican Sisters, to urge adoption of a legally binding agreement to address climate change at the 21st gathering of the Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change.
Also in the delegation, commissioned by the US Dominican Sisters Conference, are Amityville Dominican Sister Margaret Mayce, OP, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Dominican Representative to the United Nations, and Caldwell Dominican Sister Patricia Daly, OP, Executive Director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment.
The four Sisters join Dominicans from other parts of the world, as well as religious from other congregations and thousands of men and women from around the globe who have gathered to make the voice of the people heard on climate justice. Pope Francis recently highlighted what’s at stake, saying it would be “catastrophic” if the international community failed to reach an agreement.
Hundreds of “side events” are being held around Paris by non-governmental organizations focused on presenting real climate solutions that would result in the “transformational” change that Pope Francis says is needed. One of these events, the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature, will showcase a model for adjudicating cases under a legal framework that recognizes the rights of nature, offering a real and present solution to the root problem behind climate change and other human-induced ecological disasters. Under current law, nature is treated as private property to be destroyed for profit. It is a legal framework that is proving deadly to people and planet, requiring a transformation of our international and domestic legal systems toward a jurisprudence that recognizes rights of nature.
Sister Pat Siemen, JD, founding director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence of Barry University School of Law, is one of the planners of the Tribunal, which the Dominican Sisters will be attending on December 4 and 5, at the Maison des Métallos in Paris.
Sister Elise, Director of Communications for the Adrian Dominican Sisters, will be writing stories about the Tribunal and other side events that she and the Sisters will be attending for the Global Sisters Report, the National Catholic Reporter’s online series of articles on the work of Catholic women religious. Read Sister Elise's first article.
To stay updated on the Tribunal and other events in Paris during COP21, you may also follow the Sisters on Twitter – Sister Pat: @EarthJurist or @EarthNun and Sister Elise: @elisegarciaop.
Feature photo: Sister Pat Siemen, Amityville Dominican Sister Margaret Mayce, and Sister Elise Garcia at the Place de la Nation prior to a "human chain" event calling peacefully on COP21 leaders to "hear us" on climate justice.