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Empty Promises
by Donald Paneth Thursday August 29, 2002 at 02:31 PM

The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa from Aug. 26 to Sept. 4 will examine global needs in five key areas — water, energy, health, agriculture, and ecosystems.

The most contentious issues, however, will relate to globalization, trade, and finance. For example, developing countries are complaining that industrialized nations continue to place high tariffs on goods coming from the South, effectively blocking its economic growth. Debt-relief efforts and increased development assistance also will be on the table.

Negotiators will seek progress towards providing at least 1 billion people with access to clean drinking water and 2 billion people with sanitation facilities; making modern energy sources, including electricity, available to more than 2 billion people; reducing air pollution which kills 3 million people each year; reversing land degradation which affects about twothirds of the world’s farm lands and reversing the processes that are decimating the world’s fisheries.

The Summit is a sequel to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Some 190 countries will attend, with participants to include heads of State, citizen activists, business, trade union, and scientific figures, and representatives of indigenous groups, women’s organizations, and youth.

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