Rev. Father Gérard T. Lagleder,  O.S.B.
Head of Delegation of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to the United Nations

at the 
World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa
30 August 2002

Mr. President of the World Summit,
Your Excellencies,
Heads of State and Government,
Distinguished Heads of Delegations and Delegates,
Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We are all seeking the best possible solutions for sustainable development.

Development and its sustainability though, must not be seen as an independent aim detached and idolised, but it must always include and focus on the human person, who is to be developed, and on the human person who develops programs, systems and society.

No. 46 of the "Draft plan of implementation" of this World Summit quotes the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which states that human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.

Human development therefore, must be our first concern in order to develop the human family.This educational process will only be sustainable if we try to achieve it through a holistic approach, developing the whole human person: body, mind and soul.A perfectly educated brain in a healthy body though may become a threat to humankind, if it is not part of a morally and spiritually well-balanced personality.There are developments taking place in our scientific world where the sacrosanct nature of human life is disregarded and crucified:
The very matter of humanity, human life, is threatened through the practise of abortion and active euthanasia in many countries. 
Life is degraded to become merchandise where life is generated, harvested and (ab)used and where life, not meeting the criteria, is disposed of in the trash bin of gene technology.

Where development is not based on a morally sound foundation and where it is not embedded in synergy with our creator, technological progress may be misled and jeopardise the aim of development: the holistic well-being of humankind.

If development wants to be sustainable, it must develop the human person towards respect for life, maturity, responsibility and care - or in religious terms, towards faith, peace and love.

Only a respectful, mature, responsible and caring person will have the right attitude towards the environment that "mother nature" provides for all of us.

We have the knowledge and technology to save and to destroy our earth.

What we have to do and what this World Summit wants to facilitate, is to use all our most wonderful resources, abilities, talents and knowledge to develop the earth and all its people and ecology to make it an even better place for everybody.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta has always subscribed to sustainable development according to our very modern, but ancient motto "tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum" (Protection of faith and service to the poor).

As the oldest regular relief organisation of the occident and the oldest hospital order of the church, we proudly boast more than 900 years of history, working for sustainable development through programs and activities implemented in many countries all over the world by our national and international associations and organisations to

  • alleviate poverty (including
    • educational programmes to increase employment and generate income,
    • hunger relief,
    • community development,
    • educational programmes for children,
    • health care and
    • health education and
    • disaster management) and to
  • promote health (including
    • the care for vulnerable groups of society, such as people with disabilities and elderly persons,
    • the running of health care systems to deliver health services to all, in an efficient, accessible and affordable manner aimed at preventing, controlling and treating diseases, and
    • the provision of special assistance to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
In my capacity as the president of the South African Relief Organisation ( of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, I am happy about the emphasis of this World Summit on sustainable development for Africa.

I am particularly proud that the foundation of our South African Relief Organisation was not a satellite initiative from a foreign entity, to develop us Africans, but an idea and program entirely made in South Africa for South Africa by people living in South Africa.

Our main focus are children, youth and adults infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, providing child care and hospice care, HIV/AIDS education and community development to eradicate HIV infection caused by dangerous ways of income generation as a result of poverty.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta highly appreciates the "(Draft) plan of implementation" of this World Summit, especially its chapter II on "Poverty Eradication", chapter VI on "Health and sustainable development" and chapter VIII on "Sustainable development for Africa" and publicly renews its commitment to remain actively involved in sustainable development on an international level.

May this World Summit bear fruit a hundredfold and may God bless us all to achieve it.

Thank you!