VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2002 ( Ecology and solidarity are two inseparable elements, the Vatican says in a document written in preparation for a forthcoming world summit.

The World Summit for Sustainable Development will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 4. It takes place 10 years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

When the preparatory committee met in Bali, Indonesia, from May 27 to June 7, the Vatican presented a document to the participant delegations with its suggestions for the Johannesburg summit (see Documents).

According to the document, ecology is an authentic sign of "human solidarity," which "obviously includes the preservation and cultivation of the earth´s resources."

Such development must be based on "solid ethical values, or it is without direction and lacks the necessary foundations upon which the sought-after development can be built and sustained."

"The concept of sustainable development is taken to mean the process of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This concept has to be understood from the perspective of integral human development," the document stresses.

The first principle of the Rio Declaration is that "Human beings are at the center of sustainable development concerns." This is why the Vatican appeals to the World Summit for Sustainable Development to adopt the term "human ecology."

"The complete notion of human ecology ... [rests] primarily on ensuring and safeguarding moral conditions in the action of the human being in the environment," the document continues.

"It must also be noted that the first and fundamental structure for human ecology is the family, in which man receives his first formative ideas about truth and goodness, and learns what it means to love and to be loved, and thus what it actually means to be a person," the document adds. In this context, particular "attention should be given to a ´social ecology´ of work."

In regard to globalization, the Vatican document explains that "it is neither good nor bad. It will be what people make of it. No system is an end in itself, and it is necessary to insist that globalization, like any other system, must be at the service of the human person; it must serve solidarity and the common good."

The Holy See insists on "the absolute necessity to eradicate poverty." To this end, "the active participation of the poor" is necessary. "There is a distinct possibility that too many of the schemes currently under discussion look at the poor simply as a problem, rather than as potentially productive and creative actors in society," the document stresses.

From this point of view, the Vatican regards as critical the "delivery of employment opportunities, education, basic health care and adequate shelter."

"New patterns of consumption and production should be examined and promoted in accordance with the principles of human dignity and solidarity," the document suggests.

"Since more than half of the world´s population still lives in rural areas and the rural poor lack access to the most basic social services, they must be given increased attention and consideration," it continues.

Moreover, adequate "supplies of water of good quality need to be ensured for everyone," the document emphasizes.

Regarding relations between states, the Vatican highlights the fact that "solidarity has a spiritual quality that must become more deeply rooted in our approach to international problems." In this connection, it proposes an "international governance" based on the principle of subsidiarity," according to which if a state is "incapable of meeting its development needs, others are obliged to come to its assistance."

Lastly, the Vatican document explains that human dignity "is based on the uniqueness of the human being from the rest of creation; that of being made in the image and likeness of God."

However, this does not entitle the individual to be selfish. "This likeness shows that man, the only creature on earth that God wanted for its own sake, cannot fully find himself except in sincere serf-giving," the document says.

Indeed, the "gift of self ultimately ensures the well-being of others and of future generations," the Vatican document concludes.