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NGO Survey Shows 45 Countries Indicate Leader Will Attend Summit; 45 Others "Likely" to Attend

6 June, BALI, Indonesia— There are 45 countries that say their leader will attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg this August, and another 40 that say it is likely that their leaders will attend, according to an NGO survery released at the Bali PrepCom today.

The survey was conducted by the US-based NGO, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and is based on interviews with representatives of 175 countries, either through national missions to the United Nations in New York or in discussions with delegates in Bali.

According to Jacob Scherr of NRDC, similar surveys done before the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro showed, at this point in the process, that 64 world leaders had already committed to attending the Summit.

"The earlier leaders decide to come to the Summit, the more time they have to develop concrete initiatives that they can announce at the Summit," Scherr said, adding that this was the first time the United Nations was asking governments to come forward to say what they will do to implement sustainable development.

Only a handful of countries said that their leader would not attend, according to Scherr, but there were 40 countries where countries replied that there was better than "a fifty per cent chance," of coming.

But several key countries are among the list of undecided, Scherr said, a list that included the United States, India, China, and the Russian Federation.

"We will see whether world leaders will have the courage to go to Johannesburg to take action," Scherr said.

Charlotte Youngsblood of the Earth Day Network said a global campaign was underway to persuade world leaders to come to Johannesburg, and that so far, the campaign had been signed by 1,160 organizations and by over a million people.

"The WSSD is a rare opportunity for representatives to come together to discuss the problems of the planet," she said, adding that, in addition to urging world leaders to attend, the campaign was aimed at promoting public awareness of the Summit.

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24 August 2006