World Summit in Johannesburg

Will it be all talk and little action? Or serious talk and a newly energized walk?

The World Summit on Sustainable Development, which opens August 26 in Johannesburg, South Africa, brings together heads of state, United Nations officials, and experts on economic development and environmental protection for talks and preparation of a joint declaration, "reaffirming their commitment to work towards sustainable development." Summit organizers see the Johannesburg conference as "a major opportunity for the world to move towards a sustainable future—one that will allow people to meet their needs without harming the environment."

Sustainable development, according to summit organizers, "recognizes that decisions taken in one part of the world may affect people in other regions, and requires farsighted actions to promote global conditions that support progress and benefits for all."

Interdependency. It's a buzzword, but also a fact. Power generation in the industrialized countries affects the climate in developing nations an ocean away. Deforestation in the tropical South affects the climate in the northern hemisphere. A United Nations report notes that over the past decade, the planet suffered a net loss of 94 million hectares (232 million acres) of forest, a land area larger than Venezuela. The use of carbon-based fuels has significantly increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere.

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Reaching for the Summit with youthful eyes
August 26, 2002

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