UN reports progress in talks on World Summit for Sustainable Development

30 May 2002 – Negotiators are finalizing documents that are expected to be endorsed by the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, according to a UN official attending the preparatory session in Bali, Indonesia.

"Overall, we are progressing quite well," Lowell Flanders, a senior official with the Summit Secretariat, told reporters. He predicted that working groups assigned to negotiate the text would complete the bulk of their talks by Friday evening. The Summit itself will convene in Johannesburg, South Africa, this August.

Critical issues still requiring further deliberation include trade and finance, natural disasters, oceans, water, sanitation, and the establishment of a world solidarity fund for poverty eradication, according to Mr. Flanders. The section of the document related to Africa was also being further negotiated, as was the issue of how best to deal with the issue of climate change.

Some of the text currently in brackets, indicating that it is still in dispute, might "go through to Johannesburg" for final consideration, he said.

In another development, the UN today released the unabridged version of an article by Kofi Annan on sustainable development which was published yesterday in The Financial Times. Mr. Annan argues that ecological and economic considerations must be integrated in order to achieve sustainable development. He recommends that the Johannesburg Summit pay priority attention to issues linked to water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.

Acknowledging that tackling all of those areas may sound either too ambitious or too limited, Mr. Annan says this agenda represents "the essential, achievable start that we must make, if we are to preserve the hope of a decent life for our children and grandchildren."

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