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Friday, 30 August, 2002, 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK
US rejects summit criticism
Members of the WWF impersonate various leaders at the summit
The US and others have come under fire at the summit
The United States has strongly defended its record at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, following criticism from European and developing countries.


The United States is the largest contributor to sustainable development

Paola Dobriansky

American delegation leader Paola Dobriansky called the US a "leader" in promoting development, and said the absence of President Bush at the summit was not a sign of neglect.

Her comments came as Washington announced a series of international projects, aimed at fighting hunger and increasing access to water and energy.

Meanwhile an American economist and senior United Nations adviser has accused the rich world of failing poor countries.

'Action'

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in Johannesburg says the American Government has been irritated by the bad publicity it has received at the summit.

On Thursday, it announced a number of partnerships with businesses and governments in the developing world.

AIDS patients in Rustenburg, South Africa
For millions development is a distant dream

These include a $53m plan to save forests in the Congo basin and $43m for initiatives to encourage clean energy.

"We are very excited about partnerships," Paola Dobriansky said. "We see this as a commitment on the part of all."

She said her country should be judged on actions, not words.

"Bar none, the United States in fact is the greatest and largest contributor to sustainable development," she said.

Criticism

The US says President Bush has presided over the biggest increase in aid spending since the early 1960s.


The United States is the donor that gives the smallest share of its income

Jeffrey Sachs
But America's rejection of binding targets in the fight against poverty and pollution has disappointed European and developing countries.

It has also provoked strong condemnation from the many lobby groups at the summit.

On Thursday Jeffrey Sachs, an American economist representing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, urged the world's rich countries to increase their aid to the poorest countries.

His own country, he said, was one of the most serious culprits.

"The richest country in the world, the United States, is the donor that gives the smallest share of its income," he said.

"Until that changes, we are going to have a lot of declarations without results."

Small change

Mr Sachs said the current Western emphasis on penalising countries with poor governance by withholding aid was not necessarily a problem - but countries with good records did not seem to fare much better.

He cited Ghana, a country often praised for its efforts to establish democratic rule.

Bangladeshi child
The summit aims to halve global poverty by 2015
"It is trying to fight Aids, malaria, tuberculosis, trying to fight hunger, and they do not have the resources at hand to do it. So people are dying."

He said the global fund for combating the three diseases he mentioned was operating at a 10th of its required $7bn per year.

Mr Sachs also cast doubt on the viability of partnerships between businesses and communities in the developing world being advocated by the US and other Western governments.

Environmental groups say such projects are poor substitutes for specific targets, and question the role of private firms in promoting development.

Talks on many of the most contentious issues at the summit are continuing behind closed doors, in the hope that a final document will be ready for world leaders to sign next week.


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30 Aug 02 | Africa
28 Aug 02 | Africa
28 Aug 02 | Africa
29 Aug 02 | Business
28 Aug 02 | Africa
27 Aug 02 | Africa
12 Aug 02 | Americas
30 Aug 02 | Africa
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