UN Will Stage World Summit on Sustainable Development

Renewable energy will be one of the priorities for the global summit on sustainable development later this year.

NEW YORK, New York 2002-02-15 [SolarAccess.com] The United Nations will stage the ‘World Summit on Sustainable Development’ in Johannesburg, South Africa, to emphasize tighter integration of environment and development initiatives. Its major focus will be on poverty issues in developing countries. The summit is a ten-year follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, but progress since that time “has been pretty dismal,” says Mark Malloch Brown of the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), following a two-week preparatory meeting. “A more robust solution needs to kick in” and if governments do not provide more money, “achieving these goals becomes harder and harder.” The United Nations and member states are beginning to set priorities in order to avoid a “shopping list syndrome” at the summit, explains Carlos Lopes of UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy. A series of roundtables and regional meetings to examine 130 national assessments indicates that key issues of regional interest will include water, urban poverty and pollution and sustainable energy sources. A statement from the U.N. says the “unforgiving debt burden facing many developing countries” is an “all-important factor that greatly diminishes the positive impact of sustainable development.” Priority topics include poverty eradication, unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, sustainable management of natural resources, and the need to make globalization work to promote sustainable development. For each broad topic, there are recommendations for immediate action. The Summit is expected to result in three outcome documents: a political declaration that expresses new commitments and direction for implementing sustainable development; a negotiated program of action to guide government implementation; and a non-negotiated compilation of new commitments and partnership initiatives for specific actions. A third preparatory conference will be held in late March in New York and a fourth in May in Indonesia. With 90 percent of growth in world population to occur in developing nations, it will be necessary to ensure that these countries do not follow in “the footsteps and the mistakes” of industrialized countries, says Emil Salim of Indonesia, chair of the preparatory committee process. Production and consumption patterns must be changed in order to use less energy and produce less waste within the limits of what natural ecosystems and resources can tollerate.
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