Interventions: Statements of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
 
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Statement of the Holy See
67th session of the
United Nations General Assembly

Before the Second Committee,

Eradication of Poverty


New York, 12 November 2012

 

Mr. Chairman,

The eradication of poverty remains a primordial concern for the United Nations. At the Rio plus 20 Summit last June, the outcome document highlighted poverty eradication as an ‘overarching objective’ and the ‘greatest challenge facing the world today’. The outcome document further emphasized the need for poverty reduction to be pursued within a framework of sustainable development in which there is a commitment to equitable growth and to proper stewardship of the environment. This document recognized that people are at the center of sustainable development and that we must continue to strive for a world that is just, equitable and which includes all people- from the most vulnerable to the most helpless.

The Holy See has supported international action and economic policies aimed at the eradication of poverty and pursued within a framework of sustainable development. As long ago as the 1960s, Pope Paul VI in his encyclical on the Development of Peoples (Populorum Progressio), called for the creation of a market economy capable of including within its range all people, and not just the better off. He called for efforts to build what he described as ‘a more human world for all, a world in which all will be able to give and receive, without one group making progress at the expense of the other’. This call, made 45 years ago, is the essence of equitable growth and continues to be just as relevant today.

More recently, Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate) made a plea for what he described as a ‘responsible stewardship over nature’.  He urged the technologically advanced countries to lower their energy consumption and to improve energy efficiency and called for a worldwide redistribution of energy resources so that countries lacking them can have access to them. He then called for everyone- all countries and all peoples- to recognize responsibly the impact they are having on future generations and particularly on the many young people in the poorer nations. He described this responsibility as a ‘global’ one, and one that is vital in order to assure future generations that they are not depleted of the resources with which to live. This call for responsible stewardship of the environment is integral to any sustainable development strategy.

As we approach the target date of 2015 for achievement of the Millenium Development Goals that were set in 2000, we need to take stock of progress made towards each of these goals, with special emphasis on the poorest developing countries, where poverty is most acute. The first MDG- to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger- is a crucial first step in the broader fight against poverty. Within this MDG are three sub-categories, each of which is essential to assuring a minimum human dignity: first, to reduce by half those who earn less than $1 per day; second, to provide full and productive employment for all; and, third, to reduce by half the proportion of people suffering from hunger.

This MDG, and the others that follow, will be difficult to achieve in the current global climate. However, we can learn from those developing countries whose poverty reduction strategies have been proving successful over the last decade or more. In a global economy that has been stagnating since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, finding ways to revive economic growth is an essential first step-though not a sufficient step. As was noted in the development dialogue last month in the General Assembly, other dimensions are also important: pro-poor strategies that focus on the needs of the poorest segments in areas such as the provision of drinking water, housing, health, and education services; there is a premium too on good governance to enable the efficient implementation of these strategies and to ensure they reach the intended beneficiaries; and finally, in an increasingly globalized world of interdependence, we need to find mechanisms and institutions to  enable more effective policy coordination than has been evident over the past decade or so since the MDGs were first agreed.

Mr. Chairman,

In closing, my Delegation would like to re-emphasize the observations we made in Rio in regard to an authentic sustainable development strategy. The key pillars of a sustainable development strategy- the economic, social, and environmental- must also be grounded in a clear vision of what the human person truly is- or what my Delegation would call an ethical dimension of the human person. And just as monitoring indicators are needed to measure progress towards agreed indicators in the three pillars of sustainable development, we would propose that analogous indicators be developed for such an ethical dimension as well.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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