The Holy See
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Tuesday, 5 October 2004


Mr. Chairman,

With the Johannesburg Summit behind us, we cannot allow ourselves to forget that sustainable development is an important and vital theme of UN deliberations.

If the WSSD (World Summit on Sustainable Development) is the point of departure for the redefinition of an international cooperation which involves us all as stakeholders, we would do well to recall that "human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature." For this reason we believe that sustainable development must always be considered within the context of an authentic human ecology.

Mr. Chairman,

In his Report on the Work of the Organization, the Secretary-General discussed the linkages between the various aspects of sustainable development. It appears evident that there is a web of interconnectedness in all that goes to create sustainable development.

We all know the different kinds of linkages underlined last March in Jeju, during the UNEP eighth special session and in New York last April within the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), something that will be further developed at the next session of the same Commission on Sustainable Development in May 2005.

When we take into account issues such as the protection and use of water resources, the provision of sanitation, the improvement of human settlements and public health, the reduction of poverty and the achievement of the MDGs, we are faced with a complexity of interconnections and synergies that need to be regularly re-examined. The Holy See gives its support to this process in view of the 2005 session of the UNCSD and its preparatory meeting next February.

In the same way, the Holy See is pleased to lend support to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction which will be held next January in Kobe, with the aim of promoting the integration of disaster reduction activities into programmes directed at fighting poverty, protecting the environment and supporting sustainable development.

Mr. Chairman,

In order to proceed more quickly towards sustainable development, useful steps forward will be made by means of the broadest participation of stakeholders. Through their active involvement, the essential principles of solidarity and subsidiarity will be respected. It is through these two principles that stakeholders will come to perceive that the needs of all, not just some, must always be taken into account. In this context, what is important is to guarantee an appropriate accountability on the part of those directing programmes and projects on sustainable development, so that decisions taken will reflect the concerns of the people that the programmes meant to help.

In this sense, it would be most helpful if persons living on or beyond the margins of society were actually considered as true actors in their own development. People are not tools but central participants in the determination of their future. In their specific economic and political circumstances, they should be left to exercise the creativity that is characteristic of the human person and upon which the wealth of nations depends. Sustainable development should thus be aimed at inclusion, something that will only be attained through equitable international cooperation, participation, and partnership. 

The marginalized, while stakeholders, are often deprived of their voice at the negotiating table. Only the bond of solidarity can guarantee a real change in this regard. Genuine global prosperity and progress on issues of sustainable development depend on the unification of the interests of all people. The Holy See takes this opportunity to appeal for an integrated strategy that will reinforce the kind of solidarity in which all, not just some, people can exercise joint stewardship.

Mr. Chairman,

Turning finally to the International Decade for Action, "Water for Life", the Holy See joins all those who recognize the essential place of water in development that is human-centred and truly sustainable.

My delegation recognizes that water is not only an essential part of life and development, but that everyone has a right to water that is clean, safe and adequate for enhancing life. Although it is not a specific issue within the topic at hand, in treating sustainable development, the Holy See believes that access to water is a basic human good and an essential instrument for bringing about development that is truly human-centred and sustainable.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.