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Joahannesburg Summit 2002
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Q. What is sustainable development?

Sustainable development has been defined as "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

Sustainable development is about the interface between human society and the environment.

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Q. What does sustainable development mean to individuals and communities?

Sustainable development is about a better way of approaching the management of natural resources and the adverse effects of globalisation in order to address a range of problems. These include loss of biodiversity, pollution and destruction of natural resources (such as forests, fisheries). This impact is not limited to the developing world. Many in the industrialised world also suffer the consequences of mismanagement of the Earth's environmental and human resources - and that trend is likely to grow as the world's economic and social systems become increasingly inter-linked. Some examples are as follows:
  • About 1.2 billion people worldwide lack sufficient access to fresh water, and water-borne disease causes millions of deaths every year.
  • Air pollution, which crosses national borders and affects us all, is one of the major causes of illness and death worldwide.
  • Preventable diseases such as malaria and AIDS kill millions each year, but could be largely prevented with the support of developed healthcare systems and improvements in sanitation.
  • Destruction of forests, fisheries and agricultural land leads to poverty and famine, which can create breakdowns in civil society and governments, leading in some cases to armed conflict.

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Q. Will the Summit make the WTO and World Bank more responsive to community concerns?

The Summit cannot impose new requirements directly on the WTO and the World Bank. However the governments that will attend the Summit are the same governments that set the terms and conditions for WTO and World Bank processes. If the Summit results in the political will to change policies that are being implemented by these and other Inter-Governmental Organisations, it is the responsibility of the same member governments give effect to any necessary changes.

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24 August 2006