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Joahannesburg Summit 2002
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Countries Commit to Major Partnership Initiatives on Water, Energy

Johannesburg, 29 August— Countries and international organizations began announcing partnership initiatives at the World Summit on Sustainable Development aimed at achieving tangible results with major commitments in the areas of water and sanitation and energy.

One of the major outcome of the Summit, the partnerships mark a major innovation that will connect the negotiated document with actual implementation efforts.

"The partnership initiatives are intended to ensure that there is real action toward sustainable development after the Summit, " Johannesburg Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai said. "Too often, we have seen conferences end with only a document. We need government commitments-that's what the negotiations are for. But we need to know who is actually planning to implement what the Summit decides." But he cautioned that the partnerships should not serve as a substitute for government commitments.

The European Union announced that it was launching major partnership initiatives on water and energy. Poul Nielson, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said the "Water for Life" initiative aimed to halve the number of people without access to clean water or proper sanitation. The EU, he said, is already the largest donor in the water field, with funding averaging around 1.4 Euros a year. "We are ready to increase this amount in coming years," he said.

Much of the resources for the new partnerships is already in the pipeline, and includes resources pledged in Monterrey. But EU officials say that amount could rise.

Danish Environment Minister and current EU President Hans Christian Schmidt said, "We need firm commitments from all governments to implement the decisions of the Summit." But he added that while they committed to developing partnerships, the partnerships should never be "an excuse of avoiding governmental commitments.

Schmidt also cautioned that partnerships should not be judged by their quantity, but by their quality, and not by their presentation, but by whether they are backed with real resources and real commitments.

Follow-up on partnerships is also important, Schmidt said. "The EU would like to see a credible framework set up-not a control of each partnership but a framework on how partnerships are delivering results.

The United States announced that they would be highlighting five initiatives; a "Water for the Poor Initiative that will invest $970 million over three years; a "Clean Energy Initiative," that will invest $43m in 2003 to increase energy efficiency and reduce air pollution; an initiative aimed at cutting hunger in Africa; an investment of $90 million in 2003; $53 million over the next four years for a Congo Basin Forest Partnerships; and a reaffirmation of the $1.2 billion in 2003 for fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

US Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky said these partnerships, along with others that will be unveiled shortly in the areas of housing, oceans, biodiversity, and education "constitute a vital step down the road toward sustainable development."

"These partnerships," she said, "are key elements in the new approach to development that President Bush embraced with other national leaders at the Monterrey Conference in March." She added, "Hold us accountable for the initiatives we identify and for their successful implementation. At the same time hold all governments— in developed and developing countries alike—accountable for implementing concrete actions to improve the lives of all our citizens. We owe this and future generations nothing less."

The United Nations has received 218 partnership submissions, and more than 40 will be showcased over the next three days.

UNDP announced that it was launching partnership initiatives aimed at promoting community actions that have global impacts in water, energy, agriculture and biodiversity.

World Resources International announced a partnership, with Chile, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, Uganda, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the World Bank and the European Commission aimed at supporting transparent, equitable and accountable decision-making for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. And the World Health Organization presented a "Healthy Environment for Children" which aims to address issues as the quality of water and air, sanitation, insect and animal disease carriers, chemical hazards and passive smoking."

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24 August 2006