BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Somali Swahili French Great Lakes Hausa Portugeuse
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Africa  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Monday, 26 August, 2002, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
Summit opens with anti-poverty call
Delegates walk in front of a giant globe in Sandton Square
Delegates heard an appeal for solidarity with the poor
The World Summit on Sustainable Development has opened in Johannesburg, with South African President Thabo Mbeki calling for greater solidarity with the world's poor.

He told the first session that "a global human society... characterised by islands of wealth, surrounded by a sea of poverty, is unsustainable".

South African President Thabo Mbeki
Mbeki: Seeking "caring and humane" world

Over the next 10 days, 40,000 delegates will discuss five key areas: water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.

The conference will have a twin-track programme, running environmental issues, of more concern to the industrialised world, in tandem with development themes of greater interest to poor countries.

"We do not accept that human society should be constructed on the basis of a savage principle of the survival of the fittest," said Mr Mbeki.

He added that, for the first time in human history, society had the capacity, the knowledge and the resources to eradicate poverty.

Green and brown

Negotiators are still said to be far apart on a plan of action to present to the heads of state and government arriving next week.

Key summit issues
Financing of development
Fair access to markets
Reversing environmental degradation
Access to water and sanitation
Sharing renewable energy sources

No formal treaties will be signed at the summit.

But Mr Mbeki said that the final declaration - to be signed by heads of state at the summit climax - had to be "credible and meaningful".

"The peoples of the world expect that this World Summit will live up to its promise of being a fitting culmination to a decade of hope, by adopting a practical programme for the translation of the dream of sustainable development into reality," said Mr Mbeki, calling for "a new global society that is caring and humane".

The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt says that richer countries, who have made their money, can afford to concentrate on the green agenda.


There are as many, or perhaps even more people below subsistence level as in 1992

Jan Pronk
UN special representative
But poor countries desperately need development to improve standards of living which are often desperately low.

For them, the so-called brown agenda of development issues is the key challenge.

Jan Pronk, who is UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's special representative at the summit, said that although progress had been made on environmental issues over the past decade, the record was less impressive when it came to development.

"We did not do a good job, and there are as many, or perhaps even more people below subsistence level as in 1992," he said.

Stumbling blocks

While clashes between police and demonstrators at the weekend did not spoil the inauguration party on Sunday night, there are fears of further unrest during the week.

There are still major stumbling-blocks facing the summit, including the reluctance of the United States to agree to firm timetables for action, such as increasing the number of people with proper sanitation.

South African fishery worker lobbies the Johannesburg summit
Ordinary people want their voices heard in Johannesburg
The linking of aid to democratic reforms and farm subsidies is reported to be another bone of contention.

Compromises on key issues might have to be deferred until world leaders meet on the final two days, delegates said.

More than 100 heads of state are expected to attend the summit.

However, the president of the US - the world's largest economy and biggest polluter - will not be there.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rageh Omaar
"They have a common aim, but differing agendas"
James Cameron Summit delegate
"If you don't have something that you can measure against, then it's not really going to be a success"
The BBC's Hugh Sykes
"A damaged Africa, a damaged Earth"

Key stories

SPECIAL REPORT

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

26 Aug 02 | Politics
25 Aug 02 | Africa
25 Aug 02 | Science/Nature
22 Aug 02 | Africa
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes