Holy See's Address to U.N. on Need for "Ecological Conversion"

Archbishop Migliore’s Speech to Panel on Sustainable Development

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NEW YORK, MAY 2, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address delivered Wednesday by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, to the 11th Session of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development. The session was a follow-up meeting to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development held in South Africa.

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Mr. Chairman,

The post-Johannesburg phase is supposed to open a new chapter in global cooperation, by renewing political commitment to multilateralism, aimed at promoting integral human development, achieving universal prosperity and peace and safeguarding the natural environment.

In fact, as all of us are aware, the WSSD (World Summit on Sustainable Development) should not be seen as the end of the process, but as a point of departure, from which the international community should redefine its strategies of international cooperation with the involvement of all the stakeholders.

At the basis of this process, it is important to recall the first Principle of the Rio Declaration, which states 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.» The Holy See has often emphasized that the human being is central to sustainable development.

We have to reflect on human ecology; we need to start an ecological conversion; we have to change our models of production and consumption; we have to examine seriously the problem of poverty with all its multidimensional elements.

Mr. Chairman,

The key challenge emanating now from Johannesburg is to find ways to move forward on the commitments we made, and the goals and targets we agreed upon. The role of the CSD (Commission on Sustainable Development) in facing this challenge is one of primary importance. The task is: how to make the CSD contribute more effectively to real and positive outcomes; how to revitalize the importance of multilateralism, which is based upon the values of responsibility, solidarity and dialogue.

The CSD is intended to serve as a forum for deep consideration of issues related to the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development. It should focus on the interrelationships and on the inter-linkages between the different dimensions of the sect oral issues and on the crosscutting issues, such as poverty eradication, sustainable production and consumption patterns, and means of implementation.

In pursuing this goal, the CSD is expected to devote its attention to reviewing implementation, to identifying the critical bottlenecks impeding implementation and to suggesting measures to overcome obstacles, through a series of two-year cycles. These cycles should be organized in order to ensure some level of predictability and flexibility in the program of work, with the aim of allowing longer-term preparations, to address emerging issues and to deal with changing trends.

In order to better realize this process, there are many gains which can be attained through a broader participation of stakeholders and through the active involvement of all actors responsible for implementation, promoting synergies, interaction, innovation and joint learning between the various participants, on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity as applied to global governance. In this context, what is important is to guarantee an appropriate accountability on the part of those involved and a better balance in their representation from the different parts of the world.

Talking about participation, it is important to acknowledge that persons living in poverty must be considered as participating subjects. Individuals and peoples are not tools but protagonists of their future and agents of their own development. In their specific economic and political circumstances, they are to exercise the creativity which is characteristic of the human person and on which the wealth of a nation is dependent. Sustainable development is aimed at inclusion. It can only be attained through responsible and equitable international cooperation, participation and partnership.

Mr. Chairman,

One of the principal novelties arising from the WSSD was the number of partnership agreements made by governments, international organizations and other stakeholders coming from business and civil society. The CSD should clarify some issues relating to partnership initiatives. They should not be seen as replacing or substituting for intergovernmentally agreed commitments, but as playing an important role in achieving goals and targets agreed upon in Johannesburg. They can supplement and complement the efforts made by governments.

Nevertheless, it is important to ensure transparency and credibility for the partnership activities, which means to set clear guidelines, criteria and appropriate monitoring mechanisms. Without such mechanisms there is the risk of privatizing sustainable development and of excluding further the weakest groups.

The Holy See agrees with the need of having Guiding Principles for partnership initiatives, which have been developed in an informal process during the Preparatory Committee for the WSSD, but have not been formally agreed upon in Johannesburg.

In finding a remedy for this shortcoming, the first thing we need to do is to develop a sense of responsibility for our common endeavor, through the establishment of global partnerships in a spirit of solidarity and burden sharing. The earth and all its resources are part of the «common heritage of all humanity.»

This understanding fosters interdependence, stresses responsibility and underlines the importance of the principle of global solidarity. This reality becomes the foundation of sustainable development by directing the moral imperatives of justice, international cooperation, peace, security, and the desire to enhance the spiritual and material well being of present and future generations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Original text: English]

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