September 5, 2018
Towards a Global Pact for the Environment

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the
United Nations, at the

Organizational session of the ad hoc open-ended Working Group
established by General Assembly resolution 72/277 of 10 May 2018
entitled “Towards a Global Pact for the Environment”

New York, 5 September 2018


Distinguished Co-Chairs,

The Holy See welcomes the establishment of this ad hoc open-ended Working Group and would like to thank you for convening this organizational meeting to discuss the agenda for its upcoming substantive sessions.

The protection of the environment or “the urgent challenge to protect our common home,” as Pope Francis emphasized in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, “includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development.”[1] Part of this challenge is how to address possible gaps in international environmental law and environment-related instruments and, at the same time, to ensure and strengthen their implementation.

Our interdependent world has made us more conscious that lifestyles and models of production and consumption in one part of the world impact, positively or negatively, the environment in other parts of the world. This fundamental fact should motivate us to ensure that solutions are proposed from a global perspective, and not simply to defend the interests of a few countries. As Pope Francis has affirmed, “Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan.”[2]

Without prejudging the future recommendations of the Working Group, could a Global Pact for the Environment be this “common plan” that Pope Francis believes the world needs?

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

The provisional agenda, together with its annotations, provides us with a good framework for our discussions and the Secretary-General’s report will give us additional material for consideration. While focusing on the existing environmental laws and seeking their greater coherence, we must not lose sight of the parallel processes dealing with the system of governance of the oceans, namely, the start of the substantive sessions of the intergovernmental conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), whose opening session started yesterday, and the development of draft regulations on the exploitation of mineral resources in the Area, led by the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

Since both processes aim to create new environment-related instruments and thus are relevant for this Working Group, my Delegation would like to propose a substantive agenda item that would tie the discussions of the Working Group to the work of the BBNJ and the ISA-led negotiations. The agenda item could be, for example, entitled “Consideration of the progress made in BBNJ and ISA negotiations.”

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

It is my Delegation’s hope that this Working Group can bring renewed vigor to efforts at all levels to care better for our common home. We need a conversation that includes everyone, because everyone must contribute to responding effectively to the environmental challenges we face. It is important that this process be transparent, consultative and inclusive of the concerns of all States. My Delegation wishes the Working Group every success.

Thank you.

1. Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 13.
2. Ibid, 164.