Johannesburg Summit To Open Monday With Focus on Action
Johannesburg, 25 August Determined to overcome a decade of disappointing
results in efforts to reverse environmental degradation and combat poverty, the
World Summit on Sustainable Development is set to open tomorrow, Monday, with a
sharp focus on finding ways to get things done.
The more than 100 world leaders who will attend the Summit, along with
thousands of government delegates, NGOs and business representatives will spend
the next 10 days working to chart the actions that are needed to improve the
lives of people while protecting the environment.
"There are high expectations for the Summit," according to South
African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Zuma. "We have to make sure the dreams
and aspirations of millions of people are met, now and for future
generations." The Summit, she added, was a place for the world to come
together to shape what will be done to address problems of poverty eradication,
education, health services, access to water and sanitation, energy and the
"I think what will make a successful summit is the political will to make
it a success," Zuma said. "I have not heard any delegation say they
have come to make sure that the Summit does not succeed."
"The Earth Summit in Rio was about changing the way people think about
development and the environment, according to Summit Secretary-General Nitin
Desai. "Johannesburg is about changing the way we act. It's about
Calling the atmosphere during the two days of preliminary consultations on the
Summit outcome documents "very constructive," Desai said he expected
the Summit to result in specific actions on expanding access to clean water and
proper sanitation facilities, modern energy services, increased agricultural
productivity, and protection of biodiversity and management of ecosystems.
The need for action is great. A recent United Nations report found that if
current patterns of development continue, nearly half of the world's people
will suffer from water shortages within the next 25 years; the use of fossil
fuels, along with greenhouse gas emissions, will grow; and the world's forests
will continue to disappear.
The large numbers of people who have come to Johannesburg, Zuma said, show the
high level of interest in the Summit. Already, more than a day before the
official opening, 4,179 delegates, 3,062 NGOs, and 2,103 media representatives
have been accredited to the Summit, for a total of 9,344 people. Attendance is
expected to increase sharply when the Heads of State and Government arrive at
the start of next week.
The official opening of the Summit will take place on Monday, 26 August, with
an address by South African President Thabo Mbeki who is expected to be elected
President of the Summit. Mr. Desai will then formally address the plenary,
followed by United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Klaus
In a departure from traditional conference practice, special plenary sessions
that will take the form of "moderated conversations," will be held
from Monday through Wednesday. These will deal with the major issues on which
the Summit is expected to bring results, particularly water, energy, health,
agriculture and biodiversity.
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Department of Economic and
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24 August 2006