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STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF ITALY, SEN. PIETRO GRASSO, TO THE FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE OF SPEAKERS OF PARLIAMENT (September 2, 2015)

Dear colleagues,



Many factors have made the world in 2015 radically different from when the Millennium Development Goals were developed. Today’s world is defined by new players: non-OECD countries and the private sector, principally; new forms of poverty, which are on the rise in middle-income countries; the damage caused by climate change; an increasingly uncertain international situation as the result of the combined effects of security, financial, economic, social and geopolitical crises. New and diversified action is required of us. Our top priority is to pursue economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability, at one and the same time. This requires, first of all, more determined action to ensure decent employment for all, without discrimination. This goes beyond the economy, this is a question of democracy and rights. To quote the fine words enshrined in the Italian Constitution, our task is to remove the economic and social obstacles that restrict the freedom and equality of our citizens and prevent them from achieving human development and the effective participation by all in the political and social life of the country. Secondly, I believe that the environment cannot be relegated to the side-lines of development models anymore: the damage to the environment and to human health is an unacceptable cost. It is no accident that Italy’s EXPO 2015 in Milan, focusing on “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, was conceived as an opportunity for collective dialogue among leaders of the international community on the main problems facing humankind. We are convinced that pursuing development inevitably means tackling the most tragic and urgent challenges of our time, which condemn millions of people to marginalisation, discrimination, desperation, forcing them to seek a new life elsewhere. I am talking about extremism and terrorism, organised crime, corruption, conflicts, geopolitical instability, particularly in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. And I am also talking about the epochal migration resulting from this. These challenges have to be tackled not just through security measures, but by promoting institutions and political debate and by pursuing social, cultural, and economic progress locally. Finding shared, fair, and lasting solutions for these problems is the key to provide the United Nations with a new vision and to build the pillars that the UN rests upon: peace and security: human rights and freedom; development and substantive equality.


In times of crisis, Parliaments perform a strategic function in the fight against inequality and in actions to foster growth, because Parliaments are the interpreters of the rights and principles upon which we have built our civilisations. Democratic assemblies must oversee the work of the international community and national governments in the concrete implementation of common agendas, by promoting the values which we recognise and which bring us together here at the United Nations. In order to enhance Italy’s participation in this plan, new development assistance legislation was enacted in 2014 and new instruments were adopted to underpin long-term peace, prosperity and stability of our partner countries, by bringing together government, the public sector, non-governmental organisations, universities, research establishments and migrants’ communities.


Dear colleagues, the goals we have set ourselves are ambitious, and the path ahead will be a difficult one. But I can assure you that the Italian Parliament will strive on to safeguard the rights of the weakest and less fortunate, wherever they may live. This is the greatest responsibility we need to shoulder, having taken on the supreme duty of representing our citizens and Democracy – a duty towards future generations which I am certain is felt by each and every one of us here.


Thank you.