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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Holy See on the Sustainable Development Goals

Vatican City, 31 March 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations in New York, spoke at the session dedicated to intergovernmental negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, held on 24 March.

The prelate expressed his appreciation for the “ambitious and compelling nature” of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and his conviction of the need for a “transformative and action-oriented post-2015 agenda”. “Moreover”, he continued, “we SDGs must integrate in a balanced manner the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental development – with an overarching focus on the eradication of poverty and the achievement of a life of dignity for all. It is imperative that the SDGs focus more on the needs of the most vulnerable countries, notably the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Land-Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), with particular attention to the sectors of the populations where poverty is most pervasive, to those regions where armed conflicts continue to block even the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – and indeed cause further regression towards underdevelopment – and to those areas most affected by natural disasters.

The Holy See delegation, affirmed the Archbishop, “is fully aware that SDGs are a carefully and purposefully crafted package to respond to the desires of the stakeholders”, and therefore does not support “the technical proofing of the goals and targets, as it may lead to the re-opening and re-negotiating of what is already a politically balanced agreement acceptable to the great majority of the stakeholders”. Furthermore, results and progress if the SDGs are implemented “would have to be assessed and verified against indicators agreed by the stakeholders themselves”.

“Therefore”, he continued, “my delegation takes note of the work of the UN Statistical Commission in providing a preliminary list of indicators for the SDGs and targets. We further emphasise that the development of evidence-based indicators should continue to be carried out in an open and transparent manner and guided by Member States. These indicators should not upset the political balance of the SDGs, nor should they serve to impose ideas or ideologies that do not find consensus under the outcome of the Open Working Groups (OWGs)”.

Archbishop Auza concluded by indicating that certain goals and targets “are understood differently in different cultural and religious contexts and will translate differently into their national policies and legislation. We believe the indicators must take these differences into consideration and be drafted in a way that allows countries to assess their results in a way that both reflects and respects their national values, as well as is consistent with their national policies and legislation. … My delegation strongly believes that the indicators should be global, while taking into consideration the national and regional specificities, especially different capacities. Indicators cannot be unrealistic figures that only, or not even, developed countries can achieve”.

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