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WSSD opens session in South Africa

posted on 27/08/2002: 1647 views

The World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD), the largest conference ever held in the globe, opened in Johannesburg yesterday with South African President Thabo Mbeki addressing the opening session, urging participants to "adopt a practical programme that should translate the dreams of sustainable development into reality." The conference is being held amid differences between poor and rich countries over most of the issues of negotiations that observers here fear they might threaten the prospects of the Summit's success.

In his speech, President Mbeki said that the world had grown into a global village that would require development of a universal consensus to ensure that " there is no longer any river that divides our common habitat into poor and wealthy parts." He added that the peoples of the world expect that the summit would live up to its promise of being " a fitting culmination to a decade of hope, by adopting a practical programme for the translation of the dreams of sustainable development into reality and bringing a new global society that is caring and humane."

President Mbeki indicated that failure of the global community to implement Agenda 21, a blueprint reached in Rio de Janeiro's earth summit in 1992, demonstrated lack of will and had had tragic results in that it increased "human misery and ecological degradation, including the growth of the gap between North and South."

"It is as though we are determined to regress to the most primitive condition of existence in the animal world, of the survival of the fittest. It is as though we have decided to spurn what the human intellect tells us, that the survival of the fittest only presages the destruction of all humanity," the South African leader, who was elected by participating delegates as president of the WSSD, noted in a depressed note.

The summit meets under the theme "People, Planet and Prosperity" and is scheduled to continue until Sept.6 with about 104 heads of state and governments from all over the world expected to meet in this city of gold from Sept.2-4.

The UAE is participating in the summit with a high level delegation. While Saif Saeed bin Saed, Under Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, leads the UAE side to the conference up to Sept.1st, H.H Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah, will thereafter head the delegation when the world leaders start to meet on Sept.4 The summit will conclude with the adoption of a political declaration reaffirming the commitment to sustainable development and a plan of action with specific targets. Another important outcome will be initiatives between governments, civil society, the private sector and international organizations. The overall goal will be to improve living conditions worldwide while protecting natural resources and ecosystems. In the meantime, an initiative to monitor the environmental impact of a world summit has been launched by the United Nations.

A consumption barometer was launched today to measure the daily utilization of resources such as air, water and waste by delegates attending the world summit. In another development, the European Union has expressed desire, in a press release issued yesterday, that it has come to Johannesburg to make an important contribution to ensuring tangible results at the world summit. "The EU is more optimistic about the world summit on Sustainable Development after nearly two days of pre-negotiations in Johannesburg," says the press release. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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