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Joahannesburg Summit 2002
Major Groups

More than 8,000 participants representing accredited major groups attended the official meeting of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in the Sandton Convention Center, Johannesburg, South Africa. Their views and experiences were given prominence in thematic panels, high-level roundtable discussions, multi-stakeholder dialogues, statements made from the floor, side events and briefings. During the WSSD representatives from both accredited and unaccredited NGOs and other major groups also organized a multitude of independent parallel events, including the Global People's Forum.

The WSSD preparatory process was based on the participatory practices of the Commission on Sustainable Development and provided representatives of accredited organizations multiple opportunities to contribute to the work of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom). Multi-stakeholder dialogue segments were held during the second and fourth PrepComs and involved participants from all nine categories of major groups. The dialogue segment at the fourth Prepcom also experimented with new modes within the dialogue such as use of facilitators and a working group setting for part of the dialogue segment.

During the Summit itself, a number of useful precedents were set to enable meaningful participation of all major groups. The series of plenary discussions on WEHAB issues and regional implementation invited major groups representatives to sit on expert panels as well as make statements from the floor, and generated a series of meaningful interactive sessions on core issues that recognized major groups not only as stakeholders but also as accepted and respected partners in sustainable development. High-level Roundtable discussions with Heads of State/Government and major groups were also carried out with representation at the highest level.

On the final day of the Summit, a high-level multi-stakeholder event took place, whereby major groups reiterated their commitment to work in the field of sustainable development. Throughout the official process, major groups and others also announced a range of more then 250 new partnership initiatives.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development enabled integrated participation of major groups, as they interacted fully with Governments in the official process through plenary discussions, thematic dialogues, high-level roundtables, and expert panels as well as through their self-organized parallel events, demonstrations, and briefings. The meaningful inclusion of civil society in this major summit represented a significant step forward for public participation in the sustainable development process.

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