Pope Francis to UN: Climate Key to Sustainable Development

An infographic explains how the Global Goals, which Pope Francis endorsed in his speech at the United Nations on Friday, aim to tackle global warming.

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Pope Francis arrives at the United Nations on Friday.
Pope Francis enters the UN General Assembly for his speech on Friday. Credit: Reuters

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Pope Francis told world leaders on Friday that in order to address poverty, hunger, war and inequality, they must first tackle climate change.

“A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged,” Pope Francis told the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations in a speech on Friday.

The Pope said there exists a fundamental right of the environment. “Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity,” he said.

The speech came at the start of the Sustainable Development Summit, a three-day meeting of the UN’s 193 member states to adopt a new set of development goals. The initiative aims broadly to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and—for the first time—fight and prepare for climate change.

There are 17 goals for the next 15 years, addressing issues such as hunger, health, education, gender equality, and sanitation. One of the goals specifically calls on nations to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” But nearly all of the other 16 goals touch on global warming in some way, from expanding renewable energy to building sustainable cities to stopping deforestation.

“Today’s world presents us with many false rights and—at the same time—broad sectors which are vulnerable, victims of power badly exercised: for example, the natural environment and the vast ranks of the excluded,” Pope Francis said.

The goals, known as the Sustainable Development Goals, or the Global Goals, are “an important sign of hope,” he said.

InsideClimate News combed through the 17 goals, and their 150-plus mini targets, to provide a broad overview of the ways UN member states have pledged to address climate change.

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals and how they deal with climate change

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