Last round of talks opens ahead of World Summit for Sustainable Development

Following the official opening on Sunday, government representatives today resumed their efforts to hammer out the draft programme of action to be adopted by the Summit when it convenes at the end of August in Johannesburg, South Africa. The draft text reaffirms the validity of Agenda 21 – a blueprint for sustainable development endorsed by the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, known as the “Earth Summit.” The paper identifies a number of key areas for action, including eradicating poverty, changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, and protecting natural resources.Over the course of the session, participants will work to reach consensus on a programme of action that is “deliverable,” according to Emil Salim of Indonesia, Chairman of the Commission on Sustainable Development, which is acting as the preparatory committee for the Summit. In addition, governments will work on a political declaration to be endorsed by heads of State in Johannesburg.In opening remarks to the session, Nitin Desai, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Development and Secretary-General of the World Summit, voiced hope that participants would not adopt the usual UN procedure of “decision by exhaustion,” instead reaching an early conclusion on the draft text. Speaking at a briefing sponsored by the Department of Public Information, Lowell Flanders, a senior official with the Summit secretariat who is following the negotiations on the outcome text, reported that good progress was being made and echoed Mr. Desai’s hope that negotiations could be completed by week’s end.So far, over 2,900 people from 144 countries are attending the preparatory meeting, including 1,156 government delegates, 747 representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and 134 journalists.

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