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Joahannesburg Summit 2002
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Interactive Effort to Link 'Real World' Projects and Summit Launched

New York, 8 April– Whether they are working on a micro-hydro power project in Bolivia or a solar cooking project in Bangladesh, people working to implement sustainable development in any corner of the world will be able to be seen and heard at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg this August as a result of a new initiative launched by the United Nations Development Programme and Business Action for Sustainable Development at the Carriage House in New York.

Called a virtual exhibition, the initiative will showcase innovative partnership projects and allow interactive communications over the Internet between people working in the field and participants at the Summit in a bid by conference organizers to extend the reach of the gathering beyond the Sandton Convention Center. Anyone, anywhere, with a computer and Internet access will be able to learn about these projects and see the live exchanges, which are also intended to bring a healthy dose of real-world conditions to the Summit participants.

The virtual exhibition will be open to any innovative partnership pursuing sustainable development, according to Johannesburg Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai, although time would have to be rationed by an independent panel established to oversee the initiative. He also asked that UNDP use its country offices to help bring hook-ups to rural communities. "Nobody should be held back for a lack of resources."

The high-tech link highlights the notion of partnership initiatives, which has emerged as an important possible outcome of the Summit. These partnerships between various sectors of society are intended to implement result-oriented sustainable development programmes and projects that simultaneously promote economic growth, social development and protect the environment.

Desai said the partnerships can help NGOs and other members of civil society take the initiative for action. NGOs, he said, "have to go beyond the business of just lobbying governments to do this or that."

UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch-Brown said the virtual exhibition can go a long way in transforming the nature of large conferences. "These global summits have become like great beached whales," he said, adding that it has often become difficult to connect a conference with any tangible impact.

As people are looking to Johannesburg to result in action and solid achievement, Malloch-Brown said the high-tech hook-up would involve information technology and the private sector to create "a much more dynamic event."

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart of Business Action for Sustainable Development said the main objective is to demonstrate how partnerships work. Many in business, he said, have recognized that their activities go well beyond the economic, and that they must rely on forging partnerships to tackle social and environmental concerns.

In addition to the projects that are showcased, the website will host a web-based discussion on issues, lessons learned and future directions in the month of May, facilitated by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). There is a also a "find a partner" link that will help interested people network with other interested groups and resources.

The website is now online in rudimentary form, but will be grow with submissions from partnerships. According to Bryce Corbett of BASD, "We have built the stage. Now we need some actors to play on it."

For more information, click here or visit the virtual exhibition's own website at: www.virtualexhibit.net

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Copyright © United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Sustainable Development
Comments and suggestions
24 August 2006

Copyright © United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Sustainable Development
Comments and suggestions
24 August 2006