Can the Catholic Church solve the climate crisis? | Molly Burhans | TEDxBoston


What if the Catholic Church became an environmentally responsible steward of all of its land? It’s a large, global institution. 18% of the world’s population is Catholic. About a quarter of healthcare facilities are Catholic-affiliated. The Catholic Church oversees the largest nongovernmental networks of education and humanitarian aid. It owns churches, cemeteries, schools, hospitals, clinics, senior homes, retreat centers, monasteries, even oil wells and mountains. The Catholic Church owns a lot of land. What if The Church maximized the potential of that land to fight climate change? What if sustainable Catholic land-use and management became a new vocation — and reached the same scale as its other services; the largest network of ecological management the world has seen. If the Catholic Church could achieve this goal it would profoundly change the course of the climate crisis and provide a blueprint for all other large non-state landholders in the world.

To make this change requires a new model for environmental solutions across scales, new mechanisms for conservation financing, and the digital transformation of the Catholic Church’s real estate operations and geographic awareness. It is no small feat; but GoodLands has been leading the way, from the halls of the Vatican to remote desert monasteries. The path to a brighter future for call can be found; one only needs to locate it on a map.

Algorithm, Big Data, Big problems, Biodiversity, Conservation, Design, Global issues, Map, Social Justice, Spirituality, Women Molly Burhans is an award-winning Catholic environmentalist, cartographer, and social entrepreneur. She is the founder of GoodLands, an organization whose mission is to mobilize the Catholic Church to use its land holdings for environmental and humanitarian good. Burhans was the chief cartographer for the first unified global map of the Church, which premièred at the Vatican in 2016. She is one of Encyclopedia Britannica’s 2022 “20 Under 40,” a winner of the Sierra Club’s EarthCare Award, a U.N. Young Champion of the Earth, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and an Ashoka Fellow. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at


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