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Serious challenges face WSSD

posted on 28/08/2002: 1714 views

Johannesburg - The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which started sessions here last Monday faces serious challenges, not the least of which is the 30 billion-dollar bill rich countries will have to pay to help developing and least developed countries carry out their development and environmental programmes, WSSD sources told WAM here today. The amount will help poor countries fight off poverty, desertification and drought, provide them with drinking water and support developmental projects, particularly in agricultural, commercial and economic fields.

The sources believe that for the Summit to succeed there must be a political will among developed and third world countries to reach a consensus. Without such a will, the sources add, the summit will fail to translate aspirations of peoples of the world into reality. According to these sources, challenges facing the summit are centred on the need to reach a consensus on 25 percent of the implementation programme, which most of its clauses were agreed upon during the 4th Ministerial preparatory meeting in the Indonesian island of Bali early this year, and on the political declaration that will have to be issued at the close of the summit conference.

Developed countries, say the sources, still have reservations over demands by the third world with regard to fixing time tables to address environment and development-related problems such as poverty, desertification, drought, Aids disease, drinking water supplies, free trade, custom tariff, agricultural produce export and other problems the third world encounter. " Developed countries want to address each problem separately and without fixing a time table and refuse to offer new financial commitments other than the 0.07 per cent they agreed upon 15 years ago. Among the proposals rejected by the European countries and U.S. is the one presented by the third world countries to set up a fund to combat poverty under the aegis of the UN, as well as another proposal to determine a time table to increase safe water supplies by 50 per cent to world population by 2015," the sources told WAM.

A proposal to grant agricultural subsidies to the third world countries has also been turned down by Europe and U.S. whose states spend over 350 billion dollars in agricultural subsidy yearly. These sources indicated that the UAE support most of those proposals since they " aim at alleviating the suffering of the third world countries and putting same on the right track of sustainable development. U.S has of late expressed readiness to offer 5 billion dollars to assist in the developmental and environmental programmes of third world countries, on condition that they carry out political and democratic reforms, something regarded by these countries as an interference in their internal affairs.

The sources close to the WSSD informed WAM that the third world countries " see in the Johannesburg summit as an opportunity to table the agreement reached by the World Trade Organisation's Summit, recently held in Doha, before the world leaders, since they believed that they had been denied the rights in production, export and international market competition. However, Europe and U.S have once again rejected the idea. " What is more important than drawing up an implementation plan is the ability to put it into being, particularly from the part of developed countries since this plan ,in the end, is an unbinding document," the sources said.

The Arab group has decided to hold daily coordination meetings to discuss topics of the summit's agenda and means to cause the Arab initiative, agreed upon during its meeting last month in Cairo, to succeed. Similar meetings are also being held here by the GCC member states. The WSSD continued today its meetings for the second successive day, with the morning session devoted to agricultural issues and evening session to trade finance, inter-trade and technology transfer topics. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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