Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, was present at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. It was held under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly on 18th-19th September, which is focused on reviving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In his statement, the Liverpool-based Archbishop recalled Pope Francis’s 2015 speech at UN General Assembly, where the Pope described the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as “an important sign of hope”.
At the time, the Pope also warned about the danger of remaining “content with the bureaucratic exercise of drawing up long lists of good proposals – goals, objectives and statistics” without following through with them.
Instead, said the Pope, the international community should keep alive and deliver active hope, which “makes things happen and is life-changing.”
Dangers of a throwaway culture
Archbishop Gallagher urges UN member states to accelerate progress to “shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path.”
He said the SDG Summit must not serve as a platform for “abstract declarations rather for taking concrete actions to address the greatest challenges of our time.”
The Archbishop highlighted the challenges of war and conflict, poverty and hunger, violence, social exclusion, climate change and environmental degradation, and the pervasive ‘throwaway culture’.”
He warned against a throwaway culture in which “persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when poor or disabled,” and are discarded as “‘not yet useful’ – like the unborn, or ‘no longer needed’ – like the elderly.”
Putting human person at centre of society
According to Archbishop Gallagher, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is primarily a matter of delivering on a new model of development that has the human person at its centre, is geared towards the common good, and grounded in ethical principles of justice, solidarity, and shared responsibility.
In conclusion, the Archbishop said the success of the UN SDG Summit will depend on nation’s genuine commitment towards multilateralism.
He urged UN member states to work together toward a future in which the inherent dignity of every person is respected, the needs of the poor and those in vulnerable situations are met, and a harmonious relationship with the environment is restored.