Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
“Caritas Agencies and Governments Cooperating to Achieve Goal 2
and Goal 14: Implementing the Agenda 2030 in Kenya and Oceania.”
United Nations HQ Conference Room E
July 12, 2017
Distinguished Panelists, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Holy See is very happy to be sponsoring this Side Event during the 2017 High Level Political Forum together with Caritas Internationalis, which gives us the opportunity to focus on the important and truly life-changing development work of Caritas Kenya, Caritas Oceania and the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) in Kenya and Oceania. It provide a chance to ponder what lessons can be learned from their work on the ground that can help guide the overall implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially with regard to SDGs 2 and 14.
Charitable work is as essential to the life and mission of the Catholic Church as the proclamation of the Gospel and the celebration of the Sacraments and Caritas, with its confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in 200 countries and territories around the world, is in many ways the face, heart, hands and feet of the Church’s charitable outreach. What we will examine today in two regions with respect to two SDGs is just a small part of what Caritas has been doing throughout the world with respect to all of the SDGs, and, I could add, has been doing for more than a century before the Sustainable Development Agenda had ever been formulated. Caritas’ experience and expertise in the development of peoples, the alleviation of hunger and poverty, and the care for our planet are a light not just for the Catholic Church but for the whole international community.
With regard to the implementation of the SDGs, the enormous good done by Caritas is not just ordinary development work that happens to be coordinated by Catholic agencies. It’s work done with a particular understanding of the human persons and peoples being served and is meant to foster integral human development, which sees economic development as one part of overall development, which includes human, social, cultural, environmental and spiritual good. That integral development, as the Holy See emphasized in its statement on the first anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, with reverence for every human life in all its stages and dimensions, inclusion of the poor as dignified agents of their own destiny, right to education in light of the transcendent dimension of the human person, respect for justice in striving to end social and economic exclusion and preserving and improving everyone’s common home, respect for the rule of law as an antidote to conflicts between peoples and nations, peace-making, peace-building and the peaceful resolution of disputes, service to others, respect for the common good, and building a foundation of universal fraternity. Caritas workers across the globe put these principles into practice every day.
When Pope Francis spoke to the General Assembly on September 25, 2017, immediately before the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said that the SDGs are “an important sign of hope,” a hope he said that would realized if the Agenda is truly, fairly and effectively implemented. He warned the international community about falling into what he called a “declarationalist nominalism” content with solemn and agreeable declarations rather than doing the hard work necessary to make commitments efficacious. The goal of this year’s HLPF is to examine what is working with regard to the implementation of particular SDGs in various national and regional situations and what still needs to be done.
Today we’re going to look at what Caritas Agencies are doing in Kenya and Oceania with regard to ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture (SDG 2) and conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development (SDG 14).
With regard to ending hunger, just last week Pope Francis sent a Message to the Participants of the 40th General Conference of the Food and Agricultural Organization meeting in Rome, and said, “The Holy See closely follows the work of the international community and wishes to assist its efforts to promote not mere progress or development goals in theory, but rather the actual elimination of hunger and malnutrition.” He said that it’s not enough to provide people with their daily bread through increased agricultural production and more effective distribution of food supplies but we also have to recognize that people have a right to be free of poverty and hunger and the whole human family has a duty to care in solidarity for their brothers and sisters when they are starving and malnourished. Pope Francis stressed that the 2030 Development Agenda “restates the idea that food security is a goal that can no longer be put off” and added that this is a “challenge that the Church is committed to on the front lines.” The work of Caritas is one of the most conspicuous examples of that commitment.
In relation to our Oceans, we know that just last month there was the UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14. Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Head of the Holy See’s Delegation to the Conference, said in his statement to the Plenary Session, “Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 is in everyone’s interest, because the gravity of the issues confronting our oceans involves the very existence of mankind.” He emphasized that because environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked, we must have an “integrated approach that simultaneously takes care of the environment, combats poverty and exclusion, assures the collective enjoyment by all of the common good, and fosters intergenerational solidarity, … taking seriously our responsibility to care for these precious natural resources and to protect those persons, especially the poor and vulnerable, who depend on them for their daily subsistence.” Technical solutions are not enough. An integral approach is needed. That is the ethical approach Caritas is taking.
I look forward to hearing with you much more about what Caritas is doing in Kenya and Oceania in advance of SDGs 2 and 14 and, more broadly, about how it is advancing the integral development that the poor of the world most need.
Thank you very much for coming today.