Tips for a Greener Lent: The Common Good
‘The common good is “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual member’s relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfilment.” Laudato Si’ 156 and Gaudium et Spes, 26
783 million people live below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day.
‘God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.’ Laudato Si’, 246
Tip this week: Give to Trócaire this week and reduce Global poverty.
Trócaire’s Lenten Campaign, 2019
Trócaire’s Lenten campaign this year focuses on the issue of land rights. The heart of this issue is the impact that losing land or being deprived of the right to land has on people and communities in the developing world. The Trócaire box features three little girls, from Guatamala, Uganda, and Lebanon. Each has experienced the trauma of losing their land home or livelihood, either through exploitation, the fact that they are female or through conflict. Find out more visit www.trocaire.org/lent
Worth noting: The Vatican and Trócaire connect with the GAMING GENERATION, 10-14 year olds, through a new educational game and an app to rival Pokemon Go. This Development Education video game ‘Project Honduras’, is a strategy game where the primary goal is to show how important it is for communities to work together to combat climate change.
The app is available for Android and IOS devices.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
UN Secretary-General António Guterres is greeted on his visit to the Central African Republic.
While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$1.90 a day - the internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly more than this daily amount. Significant progress has been made in many countries within Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but up to 42% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to live below the poverty line.
What is Poverty?
Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Today, more than 780 million people live below the international poverty line. More than 11% of the world population is living in extreme poverty and struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. There are 122 women aged 25 to 34 living in poverty for every 100 men of the same age group, and more than 160 million children are at risk of continuing to live in extreme poverty by 2030.
Poverty facts and figures
783 million people live below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day.
In 2016, almost 10 per cent of the world’s workers and their families lived on less than US$1.90 per person per day.
Most people living below the poverty line belong to two regions: Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
High poverty rates are often found in small, fragile and conflict-affected countries.
As of 2016, only 45% of the world’s population was effectively covered by at least one social protection cash benefit.
Poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Ending poverty in all its forms is the first of the 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The SDGs’ main reference to combatting poverty is made in target 1.A: “Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions.”
The SDGs also aim to create sound policy frameworks at national and regional levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies to ensure that by 2030 all men and women have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.
There has been marked progress in reducing poverty over the past decades. According to the most recent estimates, in 2013, 10.7 percent of the world’s population lived at or below $1.90 a day. That’s down from 35 percent in 1990 and 44 percent in 1981. This means that ending extreme poverty is within our reach. In April 2013, the World Bank set a new goal to end extreme poverty in a generation. The new target is to have no more than 3 percent of the world’s population living on just $1.90 a day by 2030. By measuring poverty we learn which poverty reduction strategies work, and which ones do not. Poverty measurement also helps developing countries gauge program effectiveness and guide their development strategy in a rapidly changing economic environment.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no one behind and to reach those furthest behind first. Meeting this ambitious development agenda requires visionary policies for sustainable, inclusive, sustained and equitable economic growth, supported by full employment and decent work for all, social integration, declining inequality, rising productivity and a favorable environment. In the 2030 Agenda, Goal 1 recognizes that ending poverty in all its forms everywhere is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.
While progress in eradicating extreme poverty has been incremental and widespread, the persistence of poverty, including extreme poverty remains a major concern in Africa, the least developed countries, small island developing States, in some middle-income countries, and countries in situations of conflict and post-conflict countries. In light of these concerns, the General Assembly, at its seventy-second session, decided to proclaim the “Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018–2027).”The objective of the Third Decade is to maintain the momentum generated by the implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017) towards poverty eradication. Further, the 3rd Decade is also expected to support, in an efficient and coordinated manner, the internationally agreed development goals related to poverty eradication, including the Sustainable Development Goals
Extracts from Laudato Si’ on the Common Good
United by the same concern
8. Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for “inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage”, we are called to acknowledge “our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation”. He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins”. For “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God”.
9. At the same time, Bartholomew has drawn attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”. As Christians, we are also called “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”.
IV. THE PRINCIPLE OF THE COMMON GOOD
156. An integral ecology is inseparable from the notion of the common good, a central and unifying principle of social ethics. The common good is “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfilment”.
157. Underlying the principle of the common good is respect for the human person as such, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered to his or her integral development. It has also to do with the overall welfare of society and the development of a variety of intermediate groups, applying the principle of subsidiarity. Outstanding among those groups is the family, as the basic cell of society. Finally, the common good calls for social peace, the stability and security provided by a certain order which cannot be achieved without particular concern for distributive justice; whenever this is violated, violence always ensues. Society as a whole, and the state in particular, are obliged to defend and promote the common good.
158. In the present condition of global society, where injustices abound and growing numbers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable, the principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters. This option entails recognizing the implications of the universal destination of the world’s goods, but, as I mentioned in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, it demands before all else an appreciation of the immense dignity of the poor in the light of our deepest convictions as believers. We need only look around us to see that, today, this option is in fact an ethical imperative essential for effectively attaining the common good.
V. JUSTICE BETWEEN THE GENERATIONS
159. The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Since the world has been given to us, we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us. The Portuguese bishops have called upon us to acknowledge this obligation of justice: “The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next”. An integral ecology is marked by this broader vision.
160. What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? This question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal. When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. Unless we struggle with these deeper issues, I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results. But if these issues are courageously faced, we are led inexorably to ask other pointed questions: What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us? It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.
161. Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now. We need to reflect on our accountability before those who will have to endure the dire consequences.
162. Our difficulty in taking up this challenge seriously has much to do with an ethical and cultural decline which has accompanied the deterioration of the environment. Men and women of our postmodern world run the risk of rampant individualism, and many problems of society are connected with today’s self-centred culture of instant gratification. We see this in the crisis of family and social ties and the difficulties of recognizing the other. Parents can be prone to impulsive and wasteful consumption, which then affects their children who find it increasingly difficult to acquire a home of their own and build a family. Furthermore, our inability to think seriously about future generations is linked to our inability to broaden the scope of our present interests and to give consideration to those who remain excluded from development. Let us not only keep the poor of the future in mind, but also today’s poor, whose life on this earth is brief and who cannot keep on waiting. Hence, “in addition to a fairer sense of intergenerational solidarity there is also an urgent moral need for a renewed sense of intra-generational solidarity”.