February 8, 2016
Agenda Item 3 (a): Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world
As delivered in New York on February 8, 2016

Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza 
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
to the 54th Session of the Commission for Social Development Agenda Item 3 (a):  Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world
New York, 8 February 2016

Mr. Chair,

At the outset, my delegation wishes to congratulate you and your bureau on your election to this Commission in such a pivotal year, and looks forward to working with you and with our fellow delegations, as together we seek to ensure that this Commission, and the others, are “fit for purpose” and provide the support necessary for the implementation of a truly people-centered, inclusive and integrated 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mr. Chair,

Despite increased economic growth and recovery in many regions of the world, progress in social development remains uneven. While poverty has been reduced significantly over the past decade, adequate social policies are needed more than ever to address the underlying social inequalities and vulnerabilities experienced among those left behind by the market economy. Without such measures, we risk undermining the impact of economic growth on poverty eradication and on the well-being of society as a whole.

Complicating matters further, “major global trends such as climate change and reoccurring global, economic, food and energy crises also demonstrate that achievements in poverty reduction and human development can be quickly weakened or reversed by economic shock, a natural disaster or political conflict.”

These destabilizing events, although at times unpredictable, can be mitigated or even prevented by the collective action of the international community. Negative events can be exacerbated by a “globalization of indifference” that spawns the creation of “new forms of poverty and new situations of injustice, often with dire consequences for security and peace.”  As Pope Francis reminded us in his Address to the UN General Assembly on September 25, “Indifference to others and to their dignity, their fundamental rights and their freedom, when it is part of a culture shaped by the pursuit of profit and hedonism, can foster and even justify actions and policies which ultimately represent threats to peace. Indifference can even lead to justifying deplorable economic policies that breed injustice, division and violence, for the sake of ensuring the well-being of individuals or nations.” On the other hand, the international community can effectively face negative events with the “globalization of solidarity.”

Mr. Chair,

To rally solidarity and fight indifference, the international community took an ambitious step forward with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which affirms that “global development requires a more integrated vision, one that is grounded in sustainability, equity and inclusion.” Its goals and targets address inequalities and exclusion at their root, in order to build more just and peaceful societies committed to eradicating all forms of poverty and achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions, leaving no one behind.

Fundamentally, this means working in solidarity to provide every individual with the “minimal spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity and to create and support a family, which is the primary cell of any social development.” Pope Francis, in his Address to the General Assembly, affirmed that this absolute minimum has three names: “lodging, labour, and land; and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and all other civil rights.”  

Mr. Chair,

In conclusion, as we look forward to a coherent implementation of the 2030 Agenda, strengthening social development in the coming years will require a concerted effort by all governments to deliver on their commitments and to build more effective international support. An important role of the Commission will be to ensure that the Agenda enjoys this support and maintains a holistic approach to development that consistently prioritizes social policies and promotes the integral development of the human person and the common good of society as a whole.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world”, Report of the Secretary General

Message of His Holiness, Pope Francis for the Celebration of the World Peace Day, 1 January 2016

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the United Nations Headquarters, New York, 25 September 2015