Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development Goals, Integral Human Development, Integral Ecology, Laudato si’ Goals and New Humanism: theoretical and conceptual framework

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© Ana Marta Aleixo, UCP, 2022

The importance of the conceptual framework for the development of practical initiatives serving the common home and a new humanism to foster effective and sustainable Integral Human Development.

It is urgent to consider a new humanism that acts in response to the common good. It is in this search for a response that various publications have appeared that correlate the concepts of Integral Human Development, Sustainable Development and Humanism (e.g., Carvalho, 2017; d’Orville, 2019; Hodge et al., 2018; Davidson, 2021).

According to d’Orville (2019), the Integral Human Development concept emerged in 1967 in the scope of Pope Paul VI’s “Populorum Progressio” encyclical; however, it had appeared some years earlier in the work by the French economist and activist, Lebret, who believed that development based on the accumulation of wealth and economic growth does not serve the attainment of human needs, thus introducing the concept of the Human Economy (people-centred development).

As regards sustainable development, like other authors, I believe that the definition provided by the Brundtland report – Our Common Future is the predominant international concept: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainable development is intended to be a common and inclusive concern that can respond to the various scourges of the 21st century (climate change, environmental degradation, the scarcity of natural resources, pollution of the oceans, loss of biodiversity, growing social inequalities, lack of inclusion, economic uncertainty, the decline of cultural diversity, social upheavals and new forms of conflict and war); to this end, it integrates various dimensions or pillars (economic, environmental, social, cultural and even spiritual) for a change of behaviour that promotes the well-being of present and future generations, that is, the common good in communion with nature.

Thus, the United Nations sustainable development goals set in 2015 (comprising 17 goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators), to be reached by 2030, are aimed at a more sustainable society based on a global strategy for the resolution of critical world problems resulting from global issues and five underlying key objectives (the so-called 5 Ps): People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.

According to Hodges et al. (2018), Pope Francis argues that integral human development should be based on an alliance between humanity and the environment for sustainable human development; this implies assuming new habits and behaviours for a path towards “rehumanisation”, grounded on environmental awareness and denouncing the ills of modernity.

On 17 August 2016, the Holy See formed the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development[1] as an expression of its concern with the questions of justice and peace, migration, health, charity and care for creation and in response to Integral Human Development. The Dicastery has competence in areas related to: immigration, the poor, the sick, the excluded, marginalised, victims of natural disasters, the unemployed, prisoners and victims of any form of slavery or torture. In the scope of its work, the Dicastery gathers information that permits research in the areas of justice and peace, the development of peoples, the promotion and defence of human rights in order to provide the episcopal agencies with conclusions for the appropriate intervention.

Thus, new humanism can be understood as the reflexive and positive action of all people, at all levels of society, for an inclusive and egalitarian dialogue in order to raise awareness of the potential of a world based on peace, justice, democracy, mutual respect and human rights. To this end, it is necessary to identify the global problems that are jeopardising Integral and Sustainable Human Development so that strategies can be developed capable of fostering inclusive and egalitarian dialogue worldwide. According to Davidson (2021), Humanism encompasses sustainable development that guarantees the needs of the present generation are met, with priority going to the needs of the poor – intergenerational justice, without compromising the future generation’s ability to meet its own needs – intergenerational justice – with access to the natural resources necessary for a decent and dignified life, based on the value of the human project and on its self-transcendence.

In this regard, the concept of integral ecology proposed by Pope Francis in the Laudato si´ is based on a holistic vision encompassing environment, economy and society that interlinks different dimensions in addition to that of the environment; it addresses different actions to combat environmental degradation and climate change revolving around the following dimensions: (i) environmental, economic and social ecology; (ii) cultural ecology; (iii) ecology of everyday life; (iv) ecology for the common good and; (v) ecology for generational justice. They are followed by the Laudato si’ goals, which were also developed from the Laudato si’ encyclical. Thus, by means of an action platform (Laudato si’ Action Platform[2]), the aim is to empower all those who want to embrace this vision in a response based on new ways of living grounded on seven goals: (i) response to the cry of the Earth; (ii) response to the cry of the poor; (iii) ecological economics; (iv) adoption of sustainable lifestyles; (v) education; (vi) ecological spirituality; (vii) community resilience and empowerment.

In light of the above, it is possible to correlate the sustainable development goals (SDG) and the Laudato si’ Goals (LSG), even though the latter express a spiritual dimension not found in the scope of the SGD.

The table below shows the perceived correspondence between the LSG and the SDG, despite the fact that LSG 1 and 2 are implicit in 16 of the 17 SDG.

Laudato si’ Goals Sustainable Development Goals

LSG 1 – Response to the cry of the Earth

“Protect the common home for the good of all people”

SDG 2 – Eradicate hunger

SDG 6 – Drinking water

SDG 7 – Renewable and affordable energy

SDG 13 –Climate Action

SDG 14 – Protect marine life

SDG 15 – Protect life on land

LSG 2 – Response to the cry of the poor

“Promote eco justice in the awareness that we are called on to defend human life from conception to death and all forms of life on earth”

SDG 1 – Eradicate poverty

SDG 2 – Eradicate hunger

SDG 3 – Ensure health quality

SDG 5 – Gender equality

SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth

SDG 10 – Reduce inequalities

SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions

LSG 3 – Ecological economics

“The economy is a subsystem of human society, which is, in turn, embedded in the biosphere – our common home”

SDG 7 – Renewable and affordable energy

SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth

SDG 10 – Reduce inequalities

SDG 12 – Sustainable production and consumption

LSG 4 – Adoption of sustainable lifestyles

“Idea of sufficiency and promoting sobriety in the use of resources and energy”

SDG 2 – Eradicate hunger

SDG 3 – Ensure health quality

SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure

SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities

SDG 12 – Sustainable production and consumption

LSG 5 – Ecological education

“Rethink and redefine curricular and institutional reform in the spirit of integral ecology to cultivate ecological awareness and transformative action”

SDG 4 – Ensure quality education

LSG 6 – Ecological spirituality

“Born of a profound ecological conversation”

SDG 4 – Ensure quality education

LSG 7 – Community resilience and empowerment

“Envisage a synodal journey of community involvement and participatory action at various levels”

SDG 10 – Reduce inequalities

SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities

SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions

Note: SDG in bold are considered to have the closest correspondence

SDG 17 – strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the partnership for sustainable development – was not correlated with any of the Laudato si’ goals as it is considered to be the means, through partnerships, to achieve the sustainable development goals.  Henceforth and with the support of the platform, initiatives must be developed that can live up to the explicit message of caring for our common home.

The conceptual framework is therefore of the utmost importance for the creation of practical responses that serve the purpose of Integral and Sustainable Human Development.


Benedict XVI (2007) Encyclical Letter: Caritas in Veritate. Vatican City, Accessed on: 11 Apr 2022, available on:

Carvalho, T. (2017). Desenvolvimento Sustentável e o Humanismo Perene

Sustainable Development and Perennial Humanism. Saber Humano: Revista Científica da Faculdade Antonio Meneghetti, 0, 229-249. doi:

d’Orville, H. (2019). Sustainable Development and New Humanism. In New Humanism And Global Governance (pp. 3-18), accessed on: 11 Apr 2022, available on:

Davidson, M. (2021). Humanism and Sustainable Development, Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology, 25(3), 183-205. doi:

Francis (2015) Encyclical Letter: Laudato Si. Vatican City, Accessed on: 11 Apr 2022, available on:

Francis (2017) Audience with the Participants in the Convention Organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on the Fiftieth Anniversary of “Populorum Progressio.”, Accessed on: 11 Apr 2022, available on:

Heinrich, G., Leege, D. and Miller, C. (2009) A User’s Guide to Integral Human Development (IHD): Practical Guidance for CRS Staff and Partners. Catholic Relief Services, Baltimore, MD, Accessed on: 11 Apr 2022, available on:

Hodge, Cristián, Daher, Marianne, López, Rodrigo, Castilla, Juan Carlos, & Edwards, Gonzalo. (2018). Desarrollo humano integral y sostenible: Diálogos entre Sen-PNUD y el pensamiento social católico contemporáneo. Teología y vida, 59(3), 399-430.

John Paul II. (1987) Encyclical Letter: Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Accessed on: 11 Apr 2022, available on:

Keleher, Lori. (2017). Toward an Integral Human Development Ethics. Veritas, (37), 19-34., , accessed on: 11 Apr 2022, avilable on:

Paul VI (1967) Encyclical Letter: Populorum progressio. Vatican City, Accessed on: 11 Apr 2022, available on:

[1], consulted on 8 April 2022

[2] Laudato Si’ Action Platform, available at  and consulted on 20 April 2022.

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