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Together, we can give our world a sustainable future. Let’s dare to take up the challenge!

By adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the extreme violence and suffering of the second World War, the world’s nations proclaimed their refusal to accept that any person be crushed by other people. They affirmed the basic humanity of all people.

Yet still today, in both north and south, in both east and west, in both urban and rural areas, people living in deep poverty tell us: “Human rights do not reach us. We are not respected. Our dignity is not recognised. Other people do not see us. It’s as if we do not exist.” “Ever since we were forced to move out of the city, we’ve been going hungry again. Here there is no work, no school, no health centre, and not even a place to pray. We are hanging on only because we help one another.

Some families struggle to survive in flood-prone areas that are polluted and dangerous, surrounded by stagnant water. Working together, these families try to drain ditches and dig out pathways. Every day without fail, they continue their efforts. Like them, others around the world fight back, build solidarity, and create solutions.

In the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations, nations have pledged to “eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions so that no one will be left behind”. This ambition raises great hopes and gives us great responsibilities. First of all, we must seek out people who, from the depths of poverty, forge unique knowledge about humanity. This knowledge is sorely lacking in debates  about our future, yet we need it in order to make the earth a livable place where no one is ever again pushed aside and exiled from the human community. Together, we can give our world a sustainable future. Let’s dare to take up the challenge.

Shortly after October 17, 1987, Father Joseph Wresinski wrote: “To overcome extreme poverty, we must carry the message of October 17th. We must keep the poorest people and their thirst for dignity in our hearts and we must act. We must become men and women who refuse to tolerate extreme poverty, who make a commitment to the most disadvantaged people, giving the best of ourselves to build a world where all people can live knowing that they count for others and that they can serve others.”

Isabelle Pypaert Perrin, Director General, International Movement ATD Fourth World