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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 23:55 GMT 00:55 UK
Pressure groups condemn summit
Police remove a Greenpeace protester who is blowing a whistle
Groups such as Greenpeace have staged protests
Delegates at the world summit in Johannesburg have finalised a draft declaration on sustainable development, but leading pressure groups say the deal will do little for the environment or the world's poor.

Pressure groups, including Greenpeace, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and the WWF, have condemned the summit as failure and a missed opportunity.

A triumph for greed and self-interest, a tragedy for poor people and the environment

Oxfam's verdict

The 10-day World Summit on Sustainable Development saw nations pledging to halve the number of people without water and sanitation by 2015 and to seek renewable energy sources.

But the deal has been criticised for leaving out concrete targets, especially on energy, and for offering little to fight poverty.

Christine Todd Whitman, who heads the US Environmental Protection Agency, explained that Washington was reluctant to look at targets which were unrealistic.

"What we need to do is develop partnerships that are going to implement these things, to start to get progress," she told the BBC.

A final declaration, based on the summit's action plan, is due to be adopted by heads of governments later on Wednesday.

'Lacked the guts'

International aid agency Oxfam said the deal offers only "crumbs for the poor".

1. Nearly 80% of energy comes from fossil fuels (oil 35%, coal 23.5% gas 20.7%)

2. Nuclear 6.8%
3. Hydropower 2.3%
4. Waste and renewable combustibles 11.1%
5.Others 0.5%

Agency spokesman Andrew Hewitt said the majority of the world's leaders had "lacked the guts and will" to reach an effective agreement on fighting poverty and conserving the environment.

Oxfam says the agreement is "a triumph for greed and self-interest, a tragedy for poor people and the environment".

Dr Claude Martin of the environmental group WWF condemned the summit's results as useless: "The summit will do almost nothing to help reduce our damaging global footprint... the summit texts are mostly a race to the bottom."

A spokesman for the environmentalist group Greenpeace, Steve Sawyer, said the agreement was "worse than we could have imagined".

Action plan

Disagreement over the wording of the plan's section on women's health was resolved overnight, just hours ahead of the close of the summit on Wednesday.

On Monday, negotiators ironed out wrinkles in the summit's 70-page action plan that aims to help poor countries pursue economic development without doing undue harm to the environment.

But the deal's section on renewable energy reportedly saw European governments forced to back off demands for concrete targets on the use of alternative energy such as wind or solar power, under pressure from the US, Japan and many developing countries.

The European Union had been pushing for the share of renewable sources in global energy use to be raised from 14% to 15% by 2010, but the United States and other oil-producing nations opposed this.

The deal also makes no new commitment or timetable to end rich countries' agricultural export subsidies in order to help poor countries develop, nor any international plan to address the crisis in commodity prices.

It does not deliver any rise in overseas aid levels, nor was there any commitment to further cancellation of poor countries' debts - all things that angered anti-poverty groups.

Oxfam said: "Thirteen million people in southern Africa currently facing famine must now know that the world's leaders have let them down."

Health discord

A disagreement over the health provisions of the action plan was only resolved at the last minute.

Canada was driving for health services to be linked to human rights in order to fight practices such as female circumcision or genital mutilation, which takes place largely in African countries.

But activists said the US, the Vatican and some developing countries were opposing Canada's amendment because, if enforced, it would allow women to opt for abortions in countries where they are outlawed.

The committee is reported to have finally accepted a neutral text proposed by South Africa's foreign minister.

UN human rights chief Mary Robinson briefly joined demonstrators on Tuesday outside the summit venue to call for the reference to human rights to be included.

"If it's not, the Johannesburg text will be a very bad day for women," she told Reuters news agency.

Oxfam's Alex Renton
"It's even worse than the pessimists predicted"
Christian Aid spokesperson Liz Stuart
"We're very disappointed with the outcome"
Klaus Toepfer of the UN Environment Program
"We've gone a big step in the direction of targets"

Key stories



See also:

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