This week the Holy See published its address on development at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV). The conference was held May 9-13 in Istanbul. There have been other addresses published here and here. The environment and related areas (agriculture, natural resources) is mentioned as one of the pillars of development:
In the Catholic Social Teaching tradition the pillars for such framework have been identified as follows: respect for human dignity; protection of human rights; care of creation; participation in community, subsidiarity and solidarity. Other pillars that are judged to be constitutive of an integral development plan are education; natural resource exploitation; agriculture; manufacturing; trade; financial services; infrastructure and technology.
Following the line of Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas in veritate, the central idea is to promote an integral development of the human person. The Church offers a critique of current approaches, and calls for a new architecture based on three main points. One is a reformulation of the pillars as mentioned above, second is the recognition of man’s transcendent and spiritual nature and development in that realm. Third is the role of the State and different actors in development. The key passages are quoted below:
- The LDCs’ development paradigm implemented over the past years has proven ineffective. Since the early 2000s the continued growth (7% per year from 2002 to 2007) in many LDCs has not translated into an improved situation for the people. The number of very poor people has actually increased (more than 3 million per year from 2002 to 2007). In 2007, 59% of the population in African LDCs was living on less than USD 1.25 per day.
- The analysis of this current reality in the LDC group has led UNCTAD, in its Least Developed Countries Report 2010, to propose a new international development architecture that calls for a more comprehensive approach to the challenges of development.
- Pope Paul VI, “On the Progress of Peoples (Populorum Progressio)” in 1967: “development cannot be limited to mere economic growth. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every man and of the whole man.”
- Any approach to the challenge of development must recognize that “the development of individuals and peoples depends partly on the resolution of problems of a spiritual nature. Development must include not just material growth but also spiritual growth”. Too often the use of quantifiable metrics and economic criteria to measure such realities as gross domestic product or the narrow horizon of stock market growth fails to capture the full measure of what it means to be human, fails to appreciate the transcendent dimension of the person and therefore what it takes to promote the development of the whole person.
In this environment, however, the role of the state and of regional, international and global authorities is critical and must be supported and respected. Combined with the Catholic perspective on the responsibility of the state to guarantee the public order and promote the common good, these bodies must play a pivotal role in orchestrating and directing LDC development
There remains no easy formula for success but the promise of solidarity can be a foundation for the renewal of commitment by those who have wrestled with this challenge for decades and a guidepost for the new actors in this space