Statement by H.E. Archbishop Francis Chullikatt
Permanent Observer of the Holy See
Second Preparatory Committee for the
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
New York, 7 March 2011
At the outset my delegation expresses its gratitude for the
invitation extended to the Holy See to participate in this PrepCom, as it did
exactly twenty years ago during the fourth PrepCom in March 1992 just before the
Rio Conference where we agreed that the human beings are at the center of our
The promotion of sustainable development
is one of the most important challenges humanity faces today.
As the main forum for dialogue on global issues, the
United Nations as the “Family of Nations” will necessarily serve a key role in
promoting international cooperation towards this goal.
These preparatory meetings will provide a useful
opportunity for Governments and civil society to discuss how the international
community can best achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication.
My delegation hopes that this second round of
preparatory meetings for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development will
be successful, trusts that all concerns will be heard and addressed in mutual
respect and in a spirit of goodwill, and proposes its own small contribution in
this same spirit.
Above all, we must acknowledge that the human beings
must remain the center of our focus and basis of our actions for sustainable
While many have suggested that this
committee should focus exclusively on “strategies” and “best practices” and
avoid “theoretical debates,” in the view of my delegation it would be helpful to
restate the principles that need to guide development strategies and policies
lest our efforts create policies that could be harmful.
This is particularly the case when we are
considering concepts such as the proposed adoption of the theme of “green
economy” as the Committee’s Report recommends.
In pursuing the goal of “Green Economy in the
context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” (GESDPE), my
delegation hopes that we would not forget that the purpose of development is
integral human development and that all our strategies and practices must be
judged by this standard — for the human beings are and must remain at the center
of our concern.
Many years ahead of the Earth Summit,
the Holy See called for a new perspective on development that promotes the
“authentic human development” of all persons and the whole person.
This vision of development is not in opposition to
economic growth and progress; instead, it is a recognition that economic growth,
whether it is driven by markets or driven by States, will not necessarily
promote the kind of development that is worthy of humans.
Promoting economic development should not be at the
expense of the poor and marginalized or of future generations, which is often
qualified as “inter-generational engagement and justice”.
The well-being of all, and especially those who live
with the pains of hunger and who are excluded from contributing to and
benefiting from the economic, social and political life of their communities,
requires that both markets and government policies be directed towards the
higher goal of integral human development, grounded in the principle of the
fundamental human dignity of each person.
With them, it is our solemn obligation to remain in
solidarity. We all must work together to ensure that this is
incorporated into the goal of sustainable development and the concept of the
Most of the development strategies and
policies that have failed to promote integral human development in the past have
done so because they reduced humans to a shadow of their humanity.
On the one hand we are told that self-interest and
greed are the sole drivers of human behavior, and that “free markets” are all
that is needed to turn “private vice into public virtue.”
On the other hand we are told that human nature is
what society makes it, giving us a development strategy that centers on
structures and institutions, with the hope that the right institutions will be
enough to promote development.
Each view has part of the truth: humans often are
driven by self-interest and social institutions do greatly shape human attitudes
and actions, markets and government policy both have potential to promote the
common good. But humanity cannot be reduced to either selfish egos or
A full understanding of what it means to be human
must also include the basic solidarity that is a necessary part of our humanity,
that comports to the fundamental dignity of each person and that demands
justice. Just as we need to improve the functioning of markets and
the effectiveness of government policy, we must also work to promote solidarity
and social justice.
Real development will not and cannot be
produced by changes in structures or market incentives alone.
Of equal importance is the required change of hearts
and minds as well as our subsequent action.
Benedict XVI wrote: “integral human development is
primarily a vocation” (Caritas in veritate,
11), for development to be meaningful and sustainable it has to be human
development, the development of each human in the totality of their humanity,
directed towards the common good.
If our view of the Green Economy in the context of
Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication (GESDPE) is based on either of
the two narrow views of personhood, then the strategies developed will center
only on “structural and technological changes in the institutions” and will in
the end fail to promote authentic human development.
Structural and technological changes will only
promote real development if they are used to help people become more human. When
they do not promote human development they risk becoming tools of social control
The economy needs objective moral
formation in order to function correctly — not any ethics whatsoever, but a
moral formation which is people-centered” (CV 45).
An economy grounded in a people-centered ethics and
morality will necessarily promote the goals of GESDPE, for it will promote both
the care of humans and the care of creation.
Such an approach must recognize that the economy
starts with several vital gifts: first, the gift of creation to all humans and,
second, the sharing of that gift between humans.
An economy not grounded in a people-centered ethics
and morality will undoubtedly instrumentalize the goods of the earth for the
benefit of the rich and powerful.
It will turn social and environmental indicators,
which can be valuable tools for helping to promote authentic human development,
into statistical fixations and false goals that give the appearance of progress
without producing the reality of true progress.
Or worse, they can become excuses for sacrificing
human rights and assaulting human dignity, all for a distorted view of the
common good. If humans in their full humanity are not viewed as the
ultimate goal of development as was agreed in Rio twenty years ago, then we fear
that humans will be seen by many as the primary barrier to development and we
can be certain which humans these will be: the poor; the marginalized; the
inconvenient; those yet to be born and those who due to age, disability or
illness cannot defend themselves.
My delegation hopes that this Committee
work will set the stage for a re-commitment to sustainable development at
Rio+20. It may be a coincidence that this important conference
corresponds to the 45th anniversary of the late Pope Paul VI’s
landmark encyclical “Populorum Progessio”
(Development of Peoples), considered the magna carta of development. We hope that it will also become a
clarion call to people of goodwill for an integral human development that will
form the foundation for peace, founded on social justice and animated by
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.