The Holy See
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"Promoting an Integrated Approach to Rural Development in Developing Countries
for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development"*

Geneva, 1 July 2003 


Mr. President:

This is a momentous occasion for the international community to discuss and address the eradication of poverty and its correlation with sustainable development in rural areas. Our work contributes to the implementation of noble goals found in the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development and the Johannesburg Declaration of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It also advances directly or indirectly all eight of the Millennium Declaration Goals of the UN. As our deliberations proceed, we must also take stock of the Doha Ministerial Declaration’s acknowledgment of the need to facilitate the connection between rural development and poverty reduction.

Before advancing and solidifying concerns about rural issues, my Delegation would like to pay a warm and grateful tribute to the millions of women and men who spend their lives in the field and provide humanity with the fruits of their labor. We would like to pledge our commitment in particular to those whose very existence and human dignity are threatened by rural poverty.

The establishment of a strong development alliance, including international organizations, governments, NGOs, civil society, agricultural businesses and farmers, both from developed and developing countries, will acknowledge the unity of humanity. This partnership must recognize that those more blessed with economic resources and the power to use them are called in solidarity to address the plight of those who are amongst the most vulnerable. The unity of humankind itself is imperiled when international and national economic inequities divide the members of the human family into unjustifiable economic castes. Furthermore, this alliance can also contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security which the UN is obliged to advance. It can promote as well the interrelationship of all peoples which will strengthen the bond of solidarity.

Moreover, there is the question of justice that must prevail in the economic world. It has been said that the truest form of justice is genuine fraternity. But how can true justice exist when the poor rural neighbor is considered neither friend nor fellow human being? Recognition of the interrelationship and interdependency of the social, economic and political interests of all countries and peoples will get the community of nations back on track of furthering true justice. The material threats that challenge the developed nations today will be reduced and perhaps even eliminated when poverty is alleviated. Genuine global prosperity and progress depend on unification of the interests of all people.

The Holy See takes this opportunity to appeal for an integrated strategy that would implement a series of generous economic and trade concessions without asking reciprocity, at least in the short term. At the core of this strategy there is a principle of collective responsibility, by which the shortcomings and less favorable conditions of poor countries should be tackled and remedied by the richer countries as if they were internal problems of their own. In implementing this strategy, the alliance for development would pursue the following elements:

- Limitation of overseas economic practices which grant temporary relief but do not invigorate the economies of rural areas so that their inhabitants can become active economic and social actors able to contribute to the national and international common good.

- New practices which support both sustainable development and expansion of family farms’ productivity, should be encouraged, together with employment generating opportunities in rural areas.

- Establish and enforce equitable rules regulating international trade which would enhance vigorous participation of rural economies and would not simply favor the interests of developed economies. These rules would foster greater equality amongst the parties thereby making even the poorest States competitive participants in global economies. Rules eliminating or at least measurably reducing export subsidies granted by developed States to their domestic agricultural sector would be an illustration of this element.

- Debt relief designed to remove burdens that impede the recovery and growth of the economies of developing States and to promote new financial resources for agricultural development.

- Encourage private and public investments interested in sound primary and secondary education for all children and systems of basic health care that would substantially reduce the impact not only of HIV/AIDS but of all other diseases that threaten the rural poor such as malaria, typhoid, cholera, and tuberculosis.

- Economic assistance directed toward public health programmes must be viewed not simply as humanitarian relief to the most vulnerable members of the rural community but also as part of an economic and social strategy designed to improve the conditions of those laborers who constitute the workforce in rural areas of the world. Healthy members of the labor force will permit developing States to remain in long-term trade relationships with other States.

- Encourage investments that will assist in the eradication of malnutrition and in the development of adequate sources of potable water. Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for the robust participation of people in trade relationships with others.

- Identify and eliminate the root causes of regional armed conflict in which innocent civilians, oftentimes rural inhabitants, are targeted as victims of the conflict.

- Promote technology sharing by developed States with developing States, especially those technologies that would make sustainable rural development, food security, environmental protection and agricultural exports of developing countries compatible with one another.

Mr. President,

The world of today is holding on to a fragile peace. Too many people live without hope, are confronted with broken promises, and lose their trust in the effectiveness of regional and international summits.

It is the search for a healing of the despair of the poor that must fuel the continuing work of the world community. We cannot allow our work to end here. The international community cannot permit one more day to pass wherein a real attempt to meet goals and make measurable progress toward the alleviation of poverty is not pursued with all of the energy and resolve that we can muster.

Progress has been made by identifying a public-private alliance for development that will be instrumental in eradicating poverty, especially the kind experienced by those who live in the rural regions of the world. Our coming together here demonstrates that there is hope, that there is commitment, and that there is an honest movement toward the elimination of poverty that arrests the authentic development of all peoples and societies. A good foundation for building a better future for all humanity is within our grasp. May we be blessed with the wisdom and courage to build upon the promise which this partnership for humanity holds.

Thank you, Mr. President.

*L'Osservatore Romano 5.7.2003 p.2.

 L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly Edition in English n.31 p.2.