Pope Francis: World Trade Should be Pro-Poor

By Judith Akolo

His Holiness Pope Francis has said the nearly five decades old World Trade Organisation(WTO), has not achieved the goals for which it was established.

The Holy Father called on the organization to find a balance between the need for commerce and productivity and the common good.

The Pontiff who spoke at the United Nations Environment Program in Gigiri, Nairobi waded into yet another subject he believes is negatively affecting the developing world and undermining the progress of the vulnerable.

“It seems that we have yet to attain an international system of commerce which is equitable and completely at the service of the battle against poverty and exclusion,” said His Holiness Pope Francis.

“It is my hope that the deliberations of the forthcoming Nairobi Conference will not be a simple balancing of conflicting interests, but a genuine service to care of our common home and the integral development of persons, especially those in the greatest need,” said Pope Francis said even as the WTO’s 10 Ministerial Conference is set to be held in Nairobi in December.

He called for an immediate end of illegal trade in diamonds, precious stones, rare metals or wood of strategic value, biological material and animal products.

“Ivory trafficking and killing of elephants is fueling political instability, organized crime and terrorism,” warned Pope Francis.

The Pontiff said regional free trade treaties dealing with protection of intellectual property rights of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology should ensure access to medication by all including the poor.

He urged for urgent political attention to ensuring that there are sufficient measures aimed at eradicating malaria and other tropical diseases noting that access to medicines for tuberculosis must not be curtailed by commercial or political interests.

In what is billed the most earnest and passionate call His Holiness Pope Francis called for spirited efforts to protect and conserve the environment.

The Pope said there is no choice but to protect the environment from destruction.

“We are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment,” said Pope Francis while emphasizing on the message in the Encyclical he released in June on the need for environmental conservation.

Saying climate change is a global problem, Pope Francis who leaves Friday afternoon for Uganda on his three leg visit to the African continent urged for a global transformation agreement that will ensure that environmental conservation efforts realize the intended successes.

The Pontiff called for commitment by the political class, together with technical and awareness creation on the need to turn the page in conserving the environment.

In the passionate call, Pope Francis said the rapid urbanization has led to unplanned cities are themselves contributing to poor health, inefficient cities and social breakdown.

The Pope said climate is a common good and that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that global warming does not rise to the 2 degrees Celsius threshold.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said everyone has an obligation to help deal with the challenges posed by climate change.

Steiner said today’s world has challenges facing leaders who have to make a choice between the “narratives of conflict and competition that carry such seeds of destruction or striving towards an inclusive society that looks beyond self interest to create jobs and opportunities,” he said and added, “It must be about the value and the future of humanity living in harmony with nature and with each other.”

The meeting was also addressed by the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) Dirctor General Sahle-Work Zewde


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