Press Releases

ENV/DEV/623
PI/1404
12 February 2002

NEW SPIRIT, REALISTIC GOALS MARK SECOND
ROUND OF JOHANNESBURG PREPARATIONS

NEW YORK, 11 February (UN Headquarters) -- A set of achievable actions for advancing a different kind of development --one that promotes economic growth, helps people and protects the environment -- moved one step closer to becoming reality, as the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development concluded its second session on 8 February with a framework for identifying new initiatives.

The Preparatory Committee, which began its two-week Headquarters session on 28 January, brought representatives of governments, business and civil society together to thrash out ideas for programmes that can reduce poverty and deliver clean water, renewable energy, more jobs, a higher standard of living, and a cleaner, protected environment.

The areas where progress seems possible are now clearly marked. Building on a process that began at the country and regional level, and after dialogues among all the major groups at the global level, Preparatory Committee Chairman Emil Salim of Indonesia issued a summary identifying key areas to be addressed in Johannesburg. Poverty eradication, sustainable patterns of consumption and production, sustainable development of natural resources, and making globalization work to promote sustainable development have emerged as the focus for the Summit outcomes. For each broad topic, there are a dozen or more recommendations for immediate action.

The Summit, which will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September this year, is expected to draw a large number of heads of State and government. It is hoped that, in turn, these leaders will commit the political will and the resources necessary to accomplish the agreed goals of the Summit.

The Johannesburg Summit will take place 10 years after countries adopted Agenda 21, the broad blueprint for sustainable development, at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) -- the "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro.

The outcome of the Johannesburg Summit is expected to have three parts: a political declaration containing new commitments and direction for implementing sustainable development; a negotiated programme of action that will guide work by governments and major groups; and a non-negotiated compilation of new partnership initiatives for specific undertakings.

Delegates attending the Preparatory Committee warmly received the Chairman’s text, which will serve as the basis for negotiations at the next Preparatory Committee session, to start on 25 March in New York, and will ultimately become the Summit programme of action.

The Summit aims to promote partnerships among governments and various groups of civil society, to achieve concrete results. Mr. Salim said, "The whole spirit of the Summit is that, rich or poor, we can achieve a lot together. Let’s do it together."

"The intent is not to talk about lofty ideas -- there have been too many speeches already", Mr. Salim said at a press conference Friday. Rather, he explained, the Chairman’s text contains only realistic, achievable suggestions, and "anything that could not be implemented was thrown out the window". He added that the recommendations that remained were not merely environmental, social or economic efforts, but ones that merged all three elements.

"We have to spell out what we need to do", said Johannesburg Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai, "and these include items such as the United Nations goals for poverty eradication, access to freshwater, energy, credit and jobs."

The release of the Chairman’s text capped a two-week period of intensive discussions, including dialogue among governments and representatives of the nine major groups identified in Agenda 21: farmers, scientists, non-governmental organizations, business and industry, local authorities, trade unions, women, indigenous people and youth. Many of the suggestions of these groups have been incorporated into the Chairman’s text.

Efforts to reach a common agenda have followed a bottom-up approach that involved sounding out the opinions of experts at the local and regional levels, followed by regional meetings of governments. In addition, there have been global meetings on freshwater and energy issues, and additional round tables are planned to discuss globalization and how technology can be transferred to developing countries.

The Johannesburg Summit agenda also builds on the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report on implementing Agenda 21, issued in December 2001, which outlined a 10-point plan for priority areas for action.

In addition, the Johannesburg Summit process is closely linked to the World Trade Organization meeting in Doha -- where development concerns were placed at the centre of any new trade talks -- and to the International Conference on Financing for Development, to take place in Monterrey, Mexico, next month -- where it is hoped that development issues will be placed at the centre of the world’s financial agenda.

For details on the results of the Preparatory Committee and for the Chairman’s texts, see the official Web site for the Summit at www.johannesburgsummit.org.

Media contacts: Klomjit Chandrapanya, (212) 963-9495, or Pragati Pascale, tel. (212) 963-6870, United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), e-mail: mediainfo@un.org.

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