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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 02:06 GMT 03:06 UK
The journey to Johannesburg
News Interactive coverage of the Earth Summit in audio and video
The World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa is the latest effort by the international community to balance human needs against what nature can provide. Rapid population growth, combined with increasing demands for food, water and energy is leaving the world's eco-system struggling to cope.

BBC News Interactive looks at the efforts to steer the world on to a sustainable path.


02 September: World leaders take to stage
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair delives a rebuke to the US

World leaders deliver short speeches on a series of subjects at the summit. South African President Thabo Mbeki urges them to take firm action on poverty and the environment. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair delivers a veiled rebuke to America as he says eveyone must face up to climate change.




28 August: Mandela: Act now over water
Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela links poverty to the lack of clean water

Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, says giving people clean water should be high on the list of the world's priorities. At the opening of the WaterDome exhibition at the summit, he tells delegates, "In impoverishment it is the absence of clean water that strikes me most strongly."



27 August: Global food systems criticised
An Indian farmer walking across a dried out lake
Farmers in developing countries want access to world markets

Observers at the summit say agreement on agriculture will prove difficult, as developing countries say that both the Europeans and Americans are not prepared to discuss reform of the world trade system and the reduction of subsidies to agriculture.



26 August: Call to end 'global apartheid'
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki addressing delegates at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
Mbeki: Seeks "caring and humane" world

In his opening address to delegates at the summit, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki calls for an end to the world order of "survival of the fittest". Delegates from over 170 countries face the challenge of reducing the number of people in poverty while protecting the world's environment.



1997: Kyoto Treaty
The Sun sets behind an oil refinery
Fossil fuels are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions

Kyoto in Japan hosts a marathon session of talks on tackling climate change. Exhausted delegates finally reach a decision to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 5%. Environmentalists say concessions offered to polluting nations will do little to stop global warming.



1997: Reviewing Rio
An industrial chimney
Some industrialists feel global warming is just environmental hot air

The 'Rio+5' summit in New York assesses progress made since the 1992 Earth Summit. European countries criticise America's failure to set targets to reduce carbon dixoide emissions. Environmentalists say the US is being squeezed by sceptical industry lobby groups.



1992: The Earth Summit in Rio
Delegates at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro
Critics say governments are not 'walking the talk' of the Rio summit

The world's attention focuses on Brazil's capital for 14 days as world leaders gather to address growing environmental concerns. Despite commitments to tackle deforestation, global warming and the launch of the 'Agenda 21' action plan, critics say the summit fails to deliver.




1980s: 'Sustainable Development' is born
A view of the Earth from space
The Brundtland Report is credited as defining 'sustainable development'

A report by a UN commission, led by the Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Bruntland, alerts the world to the need of ensuring economic development does not deplete natural resources or harm the environment. The Brundtland Report offers a framework for moving towards a sustainable world.



1972: World awakes to eco-worries
Rush hour commuters in Bombay, India
Over population is a longstanding concern of environmentalists

The first time world leaders gather to discuss growing concerns of evironmental damage is at the UN's summit on the human environment in Stockholm. Pollution and overpopulation top the list of concerns. Speaking ahead of the summit, its co-ordinator, Dr Maurice Strong, offers an ominous warning: "Doomsday is a possibility".



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