UN Secretary-General Names Five Key Areas Where Johannesburg Summit Can Make a
||14 May, New York-In his first major policy address on
expectations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held this
August, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan identified water and
sanitation, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity as five key areas
where concrete results can and must be obtained.
By concentrating on these five areas, the Secretary-General said, in a speech
delivered by his wife Nane Annan at the American Museum of Natural History, the
Summit could produce an ambitious but achievable programme of practical steps
to improve the lives of all human beings while protecting the global
"These are five areas," he said, "in which progress would offer
all human beings a chance of achieving prosperity that will not only last their
own lifetime, but can be enjoyed by their children and grandchildren too."
The World Summit on Sustainable Development, which will be held in
Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September, will bring world
leaders, citizen activists and business representatives together to work on an
agenda for ensuring that planet Earth can sustain a decent life for all its
inhabitants, present and future.
A fourth and final round of preparatory negotiations for the Summit will take
place in Bali, Indonesia, from 27 May to 7 June, and participants in the
process agree that the outcome of the Johannesburg Summit must produce action
and results. At the last preparatory committee meeting in New York, however,
there were so many proposals recommended by delegations that an implementation
document of 21 pages swelled to almost 150 pages by the end of the meeting. A
new 39-page Chairman's text has been prepared for the start of the Bali
The Secretary-General, in his speech, said he sensed a need for greater clarity
on what Johannesburg was all about, and what it could achieve. From the broad
smorgasbord of issues that will be considered in Johannesburg, the
Secretary-General said the five areas he targeted were "areas in which
progress is possible with the resources and technologies at our
The Secretary-General proposed the following actions:
The Johannesburg Summit is expected to conclude with a political declaration,
an implementation programme agreed upon by Governments, and the launch of new
voluntary partnership initiatives by various groups to take action and achieve
results. The Secretary-General said that "the most creative agents of
change" may well be partnerships among governments, private businesses,
non-profit organizations, scholars and concerned citizens.
- Water Provide access to at least one billion people who lack clean
drinking water and two billion people who lack proper sanitation.
- Energy Provide access to more than two billion people who lack modern
energy services; promote renewable energy; reduce over-consumption; and ratify
the Kyoto Protocol to address climate change.
- Health Address the effects of toxic and hazardous materials; reduce
air pollution, which kills three million people each year, and lower the
incidence of malaria and African guinea worm, which are linked with polluted
water and poor sanitation.
- Agricultural productivity Work to reverse land degradation, which
affects about two-thirds of the world's agricultural lands.
- Biodiversity and ecosystem management Reverse the processes that have
destroyed about half of the world's tropical rainforest and mangroves, and are
threatening 70 per cent of the world's coral reefs and decimating the world's
Although sustainable development was considered a "conceptual
breakthrough" at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, progress since
then has been slower than anticipated, and often, has been overshadowed in the
policy-making process by more immediate problems, such as conflicts,
globalization, and most recently, terrorism, the Secretary-General said. But he
added that the Johannesburg Summit offers humanity "a chance to restore
the momentum that had been felt so palpably after the Earth Summit."
New efforts are needed, he added, because the present model of development,
which has brought privilege and prosperity to about 20 per cent of humanity,
has also exacted a heavy price by degrading the planet and depleting its
resources. Yet, according to the Secretary-General, "at discussions on
global finance and the economy, the environment is still treated as an
High-consumption lifestyles continue to tax the earth's natural life-support
systems, research and development are under-funded and neglectful of the
problems of the poor, and developed countries "have not gone far
enough," he said, to fulfil either of the promises they made in Rio - to
protect their own environments and to help the developing world defeat
The issue, the Secretary-General said, is not environment versus development,
or ecology versus economy. "Contrary to popular belief," he said,
"we can integrate the two."
"In Johannesburg, we have a chance to catch up," he said, concluding.
"Together, we will need to find our way towards a greater sense of mutual
responsibility. Together, we will need to build a new ethic of global
stewardship. Together, we can and must write a new and hopeful chapter in
Click here for the full text of the speech.
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Department of Economic and
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24 August 2006