STATEMENT BY H.E.
ARCHBISHOP BERNARDITO AUZA
New York, 8 October 2014
As this is my delegation’s first time to address the Second Committee during
the current session, allow me to congratulate you and the other members of the
bureau for your election. My delegation wishes you all the best!
The Holy See believes that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are apt to
deliver and help implement a transformative post-2015 Development Agenda.
The Holy See notes with satisfaction that significant progress has been made
in reducing global poverty, child mortality and maternal deaths. But it is also
aware that more remains to be done, and that it can only be done if we all work
together. As Pope Francis affirmed in his May 2014 address to the Secretary
General of the United Nations and the UN System Chief Executives, the future
objectives for sustainable development should be formulated "with generosity and
courage so that they can have real impact on the structural causes of poverty
No development goal is more important for the Holy See than the eradication
of extreme poverty. This moral imperative has always underlain the social
commitment of the Catholic Church. Thus, the Holy See notes with concern that
however encouraging recent progress may have been in reducing global poverty,
extreme poverty still remains widespread in many regions of the developing
world. More than one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, continue
to live on less than $1.25 a day. To fight the structural causes of extreme
poverty, every economic and political policy and activity must set about
providing each person with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and
freedom from want. Without this vision, economic and political policy and
activity would be selfish and mere profiteering, and would not contribute
towards attacking the structural causes of extreme poverty.
Within the post-2015 development framework, the Holy See wishes to highlight
the importance of the sustainable development goals that address the pressing
issues of climate change, rising inequality, productive employment for all, and
the promotion of peaceful societies. These realities must be part of any
sustainable development framework, especially because they tend to affect more
severely people living in extreme poverty. They are also important in an ethical
context, since they highlight the global obligations of developed countries
toward less developed ones.
The challenges related to climate change should inform future development
policy to a much greater extent than until today. The world has become a
village, a neighborhood. The decisions and behaviors of one have profound
consequences for others. Thus a collective response to this phenomenon is
essential if we have to succeed, a global action that is based on a culture of
solidarity and on conscious individual and communitarian decisions to change
lifestyles and practices that provoke the worsening conditions of our planet.
The Catholic Church, through its vast network of schools and social institutions
throughout the world, is committed to promoting education in environmental
responsibility and to fighting both extreme want and a throwaway culture in rich
societies. Also, we must not put the blame on poor people and countries who cut
trees in order to survive, and who are most vulnerable to the negative effects
of climate change mainly caused by the high consumption and high carbon
emissions in other countries. Instead, they must be helped to overcome or
mitigate such effects.
Rising inequality indicates that certain economic models and policies are not
working towards promoting equitable development. Indeed, some data show that the
wealth of the world’s 67 richest individuals is equivalent to that of the bottom
half of the world’s population, and that the world’s richest individual is worth
the same as the 156 million people from the bottom. While recognizing that there
are many causes of income inequality, we cannot be indifferent to the structural
causes of this exponentially increasing gap of the haves and the have-nots, if
we are to defeat extreme poverty and achieve sustainable development. This
imbalance results in no small measure from policies and practices which uphold
the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, denying State
authorities the right – indeed, the duty - to regulate the blind market forces
which, left alone, would only heighten uneven development and work against the
common good. Any development model that does not allow all to equitably share
prosperity will not be sustainable in the long run.
Moreover, we must address vigorously the challenge of finding productive
employment for all as something integral to sustainable development. The Holy
See has always emphasized the special dignity that gainful employment can
provide. Today, we do not need reminding of the consequences of high levels of
unemployment in the developing world and its impact on international migration.
Within developed countries, too, we need to strengthen our efforts to integrate
immigrant families into our societies to avoid the consequences of social
alienation and radicalization.
Finally, Mr. Chair, the most serious setbacks to the achievement of the
Millennium Development Goals have been most alarming in countries ravaged by
conflicts. My delegation is convinced that unless peace and reconciliation are
re-established in those countries or regions, the post-2015 sustainable
development goals will never be reached. As Pope Paul VI already affirmed way
back in 1967, the new name of development is peace. War destroys; peace builds.
With war everything is lost; with peace everything is gained.
In closing, Mr. Chair, let me reiterate the Holy See’s assurance that the
development of peoples is in the heart of its concerns, particularly the
development of those who are striving to escape from hunger, misery, endemic
diseases and ignorance; of those who are working for a fairer share in the
benefits of civilization and development. My delegation looks forward to working
closely with you and with all in helping implement a "Transformative post-2015
Thank you, Mr. Chair.