Holy See: Social and Environmental Justice are Interconnected

The Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer to the UN Archbishop Bernardito Auza:

Our concern to take greater care for nature should also arouse in us an empathy with those left behind, those who are affected by environmental degradation, and those who are excluded from economic and political processes….

We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis that is both social and environmental. Thus, “strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded and protecting nature”. [4] The same principle of interconnectedness binds together the three biggest United Nations processes in 2015, namely, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. There are not three separate challenges of financing development needs, agreeing on new development goals and tackling climate change, but one overarching challenge of how to orient our politics, economies, technology, businesses and personal behavior — indeed, all our efforts — toward a sustainable, integral and authentic development in harmony with nature….

Mr. President, My Delegation welcomes the way in which both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement acknowledge the central importance of the human person. The 2030 Agenda rightly begins by noting that “the dignity of the human person is fundamental.” In the same vein, Pope Francis has urged that all environmental and development initiatives focus on the innate dignity that we all share in equal measure. This dignity must remain at the center of our debates. In particular, those who are weak and marginalized, those who are poor and ill, the unborn and the elderly alike, the refugees and victims of war and violence, and those disproportionately impacted by greed and indifference must have a special place in the initiatives we pursue. Their sufferings and anxieties, their fears and hopes should not fail to raise an echo in our hearts. The 2030 Agenda’s “determin[ation] to end poverty and hunger… and to ensure that all human beings live in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment”[6] should lie at the heart of our efforts….

We cannot speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. My Delegation urges generosity, solidarity and selflessness as we implement both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, in order not to leave future generations pay the extremely high price of environmental deterioration.