Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza,
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, during the 55th Session of the Commission for Social Development
Agenda Item 3 (a): Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all
New York, 6 February 2017
At the outset, my delegation wishes to congratulate you and your bureau on your election to the Commission this year. It is the first year that the Commission has been tasked by the Economic and Social Council with providing substantive inputs to the high-level political forum in the area of social development, and so our discussions take on added importance. The focus of this year’s High-level Political Forum in July also fits perfectly within our priority theme for the 55th Session, providing the Commission with a particular opportunity to address poverty eradication by focusing on its social dimensions, a critical element that is often overlooked.
While recognizing that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda also recognizes that poverty cannot be reduced to economics. Instead, it calls on the international community to “address poverty in all its forms and dimensions” in order to ensure that “all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment”. It goes even further in recognizing that poverty eradication is intimately linked with commitments to “combating inequality within and among countries”, “preserving the planet”, “fostering social inclusion” and ultimately “building peaceful societies.”
During his annual address to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis similarly recognized that “civil progress” combined with concrete “economic development”, is the only road to peace. Peace, he continued, is an “active virtue, one that calls for the engagement and cooperation of each individual and society as a whole.” 
Unfortunately, for many people today, as was also recently emphasized by Pope Francis, “peace appears as a blessing to be taken for granted, for all intents [it is considered] an acquired right to which not much thought is given. Yet, for all too many others, peace remains merely a distant dream.” As we know far too well, millions of people currently find themselves living amid conflicts, fueled by senseless violence, hatred and fear. Even in places that we once considered secure, lack of opportunity and the economic and social strains caused by global insecurity and forced migrations have left the world less stable and in desperate need of concrete signs of hope.
Wars and conflicts are the main causes of forced migrations and massive displacements of populations. Thus, putting an end to violent conflicts must become our priority, if we are to eradicate poverty and build lasting peace. This means addressing not only economic poverty but also social and spiritual poverty with policies and investments that people can see and touch.
First and foremost, we must work to provide young people with education, jobs and opportunities that encourage their personal growth and provide them a place in society to make meaningful contributions. Such investments ensure not only that our youth can provide for themselves and their families — but that they can contribute to building a culture of peace; for, when our youth know they are valued and belong, they will not fall prey to extremist ideologies.
Additionally, we must also find ways to address the needs of the most marginalized in our societies, such as our elderly who have not only contributed to society's economic wealth but who continue to generate social wealth through experience and knowledge. Here again, the role of the family is crucial; it also happens to be the most cost effective social safety net that society can offer, especially when supported by tax credits or other targeted government policies that allow the family to provide supports that would otherwise become the responsibility of the State.
Finally, sustainable development for all should embrace migrants, displaced persons and refugees. Not only must we respect the right of every person to migrate, but we must also cooperate to make investments that ensure they are integrated fully into the societies in which they are received without, as Pope Francis reminds us, “the latter sensing that their security, cultural identity and political-social stability are threatened.”
Not unlike poverty eradication, “peace will never be achieved once and for all, but must be built up continually.” Thus let us take advantage of the work of this Commission to identify and support those best practices that will contribute most toward making progress on the challenging road that lies before us.
1. UN General Assembly, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 21 October 2015
2. Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Member of the Diplomatic Corps, Monday, 9 January 2017