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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 03:41 GMT 04:41 UK
Bali hosts development talks
Man with firewood load   AP
The Johannesburg summit will focus on poverty

Indonesia is hosting a critical international meeting to prepare for the world summit on sustainable development.

The meeting, starting on Monday on the holiday island of Bali, is expected to draw up the final agenda and influence the outcome of the world summit due to be held in South Africa at the end of August.

Thousands of delegates from around the world are expected to attend this final preparatory meeting, which is due to last two weeks.

The critical decisions will be taken in the second week, when ministers from more than 100 countries will be present.

Action plan

Besides agreeing the agenda for the world summit in Johannesburg later this year, the delegates will also draft a final statement and an action plan.

The Johannesburg meeting is a follow-up to the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago.

Whilst that meeting succeeded in putting environmental issues on the international agenda, the Johannesburg summit will review what progress has been made since then, as well as shifting to an even broader focus.

This time the spotlight will be much more on the problems facing the developing world, in particular poverty eradication.

The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has already said the summit should focus on five major areas, including water and sanitation, health and agricultural productivity.

Poverty and extremism

All this has been given much greater urgency since the attacks on the United States last September.

Western countries have acknowledged the link between poverty and political extremism, and the need for the West to provide more financial assistance to developing countries.

But there are already fears that the summit will only produce vague conclusions and plans, none of which will ever be implemented.

Very little of what was agreed at the Rio Summit has ever been enforced internationally.

The one significant agreement, which focused on preventing global warming, has now been undermined by the US, which pulled out shortly after President George W Bush was elected.

See also:

06 Jul 01 | Africa
09 Feb 01 | Science/Nature
04 Jan 02 | Americas
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