Monday 31 October 2011
Note Verbale to the Bureau for the Preparatory Process of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, 31 October 2011
Note Verbale to the Bureau for the Preparatory Process of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development31 October 2011The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations presents its compliments to the Bureau for the Preparatory Process of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and has the honor to submit the following input for the preparations of the Rio+20 outcome document: The Holy See believes that in addressing the overarching pillars of environmental, economic and social development, a human centered approach, as reflected in the first principle of the original Rio Declaration, must form the foundation for all development policies. The centrality of the human person and the promotion of the dignity and worth of all persons without distinction are fundamental in order to avoid a reductionist approach which views the human person as an obstacle to development. States must work to promote true human development through the recognition of the need for integral development which values all of its aspects: environmental, economic, social, ethical, moral and spiritual.In the area of environmental development, we must start from the foundation that the environment is God’s gift to everyone and thus the human family has a responsibility to serve as a steward of creation to ensure that our use of the environment takes into account the impact of our actions on future generations, especially on the poor and the least protected.  Through the recognition and promotion of intra-generational and inter-generational solidarity we can better ensure that development does not come at the expense of the poor and the least fortunate in society. In our discussions on the Rio+20 outcome document, we must work to ensure that all people have access to clean air, water and land, and to assist those States and peoples who lack access to these most basic of resources.  In exercising our role as stewards of creation we must avoid the false thinking, consistently disproven, that views increasing populations as the cause of environmental degradation needing to be countered by population reduction. This view not only seeks to replace a human centered approach to development with one which places the environment as the center of development policy, but also fails to recognize that those countries whose population’s growth are stagnant or falling, are often the same countries whose patterns of consumption and growth are the driving forces behind environmental degradation.  Our discussion on the Rio+20 outcome document must reject this logic and instead replace it with environmental policies which respect the human person and work to ensure the rights of all people to life’s most basic resources, namely clean air, water, land, nutrition, safe sanitation and shelter.Just economic development policy must also recognize the rights of the human person and the indispensable responsibility to promote the common good.  Such development must take into account both the material well-being of society and the spiritual and ethical values which give meaning to material and technological progress. The international community is confronting an ongoing challenge to the existing economic order as countries face difficult decisions in addressing national budgets while at the same time addressing the challenges of stagnation and, in some cases, economic contraction. The ongoing economic crisis has been driven in large part by ideas which place utilitarian and individual self-interest above, and sometimes at the expense of, the broader community.  That is why a renewed commitment to the indispensable role of human-centered ethics in economic decision making is necessary in order to promote a more effective and sustainable economic development.  For too long financial systems and economic models have sought only to find ways to increase profits and financial capital without having taken into account whether these new models and programs would be just and promote the common good.  In order to break this cycle of financial boom and bust, economic policy makers must therefore place human centered ethics at the heart of financial and economic planning.The promotion of economic development requires also renewed commitment to global solidarity which recognizes the universal nature of goods and the responsibilities we have to one another. Through the transfer of technology, access to an equitable and just global trade system, fulfillment of official development assistance promises, greater use of innovative financing mechanisms for development and reassessment of the global financial governance structures, we can work to create a more fraternal and just global community.This solidarity must also take into account the need to address growing inequities within society and between States in order to promote just and equitable financial and economic policies.  In the end, economic policies must be judged not on their ability to generate wealth for a select few but on how well the poorest and the least fortunate in society are fairing.  This preferential option for the poor meets the moral demands of social justice and sustainable peace and development.The Rio+20 Conference also provides an opportunity for States to begin the discussions on how States can work together to create more effective international financial and economic governance structures.  In an interconnected world where financial and economic failures have consequences in all corners of the globe it is no longer tenable for States to look only inward when developing economic policies.  A new governmental structure, guided by the overarching need to respect human dignity, must place itself at the service of all States for the promotion of the common good.In order to be effective and just, such a governmental structure must not be seen as an opportunity to consolidate decision making into one body which dictates to States and communities or be seen as a means by States to exert political or economic authority over each other. Rather, such a body must work to promote the very conditions which make economic advancement and opportunity a reality for all people and States and must consist of different levels of actors which work together to assist one another in fulfilling their individual and joint responsibilities.  This requires respecting the principle of subsidarity and assisting individual States and communities in making the necessary reforms to their social, economic, ecological, political and legal systems so that they are able to address the need for sustainable energy supplies, develop social protection floors and provide solutions to address the specific needs of both the urban and rural poor. While environmental and economic development provide the technical structures necessary for society, social development seeks to address the social structures and social institutions necessary to promote people’s welfare. At the heart of such social structures is the need to provide support for the family.  The family is the fundamental unit of society and the place where children first learn the skills and virtues needed within society, where the elderly and disabled are given care and where social, spiritual and personal development is first nurtured. It is therefore of utmost importance that policies and programs created during the upcoming Rio +20 Conference recognize that without legal, political and economic support for the family, attempts to address broader economic development will remain elusive. The Holy See also believes that in order to promote social development, States and the private sector must work together in order to provide full and decent employment for all or, in other words, to realize the right to work. Decent work provides persons with the living wage necessary to support themselves and their family and with an ability to contribute their talents to the betterment of society. Access to decent work provides the most effective tool in fulfilling the goal of poverty eradication. In every corner of globe, social development increasingly needs to address the issue of migration.  People from around the world continue to cross national borders in the search for better social, economic and political opportunities. The particular needs of migrants, especially irregular immigrants, require policies and programs which respect their dignity, protect them from economic and sexual exploitation, and respect the right of families to stay together, address their social and spiritual needs and work to integrate them into their new communities for they are members of our same human family.  The Holy See believes that the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio will provide an opportunity for States to work together to address these concerns and many others in order to draw up a framework for a more just, equitable and sustainable future for the global community. The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Bureau for the Preparatory Process of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development the assurances of its highest consideration.New York, 31 October 2011