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Sunday, 1 September, 2002, 23:52 GMT 00:52 UK
Bush to face online green quiz
US President George W Bush
Bush: Criticised over environmental policy

US President George W Bush is not attending the World Summit on Sustainable Development, now approaching its final stages here.

Nelson Mandela
The results will be handed to former South African President Nelson Mandela
But he will still have a chance to tell the world what he thinks about the summit agenda.

The organisers of the Online Global Poll on the Environment are sending him their questionnaire, and they have promised BBC News Online exclusive details of any answer from Mr Bush.

The poll is the brainchild of the Greek Foreign Minister, George Papandreou, and a US friend, Phil Noble, founder of the PoliticsOnline website.

Technology inequalities

Mr Papandreou told journalists at the summit that "This poll gives citizens across the world the chance to express their views.

"We've already had comments from 144 countries. I think the democratic challenge in this globalising world will be one of the most important for humanity in the decades ahead, if not the most important of all."

Mr Papandreou said the results of the poll would be released at the end of the summit.

He himself would be passing them to South Africa's former President, Nelson Mandela.

Mr Papandreou acknowledged that very few people in the world had internet access, and said another aim of the poll was to highlight the inequalities of the global technological divide.

Another speaker said there were more telephone lines in Manhattan than in the whole of Africa, and 99% of internet access on the continent was within South Africa itself.

Permanent feature

Mr Papandreou said he hoped the Global Poll could become a more permanent feature of UN activities.

Haitian mother waits for medical aid with her sick child
Those polled will also be queried on issues such as poverty and healthcare

He thanked the BBC and two other media organisations, AOL/Time Warner and Microsoft, for promoting the poll on their websites.

Mr Papandreou told BBC News Online: "We sent the poll to Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, not to President Bush. But we will send it to the White House now, and you'll be the first to hear any answer we get."

The poll asks those completing it to answer more than 30 questions, some about themselves but most about their opinions on the environment in their own country and worldwide.

Pertinent questions

Asked to list the biggest problem in the world, they are offered a choice: Economic concerns, crime, education, environment, health care, terrorism, peace, and others.

Other questions concern predictions of the planet's environmental state up to 25 years ahead, and who is responsible for improving the environment.

Pertinently, in view of the summit's preoccupations, people are asked: "Do you believe that free trade and protection of the global environment are in conflict with each other; mutually supportive; sometimes at odds; sometimes mutually supportive?"

Key stories



See also:

01 Sep 02 | Africa
15 Feb 02 | Americas
10 Jun 02 | World at One
18 Oct 01 | The Money Programme
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