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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Earth Summit guest list grows
Johannesburg
Johannesburg will host the Earth Summit
Delegations from the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland administrations are to attend the Earth Summit later this month - although they have no seats at the conference table.


We have a key role to play in sharing the lessons we have already learned with other nations

Rhodri Morgan
The members - including Wales' First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Scotland's Jack McConnell - will be included in the official UK party.

More than 60,000 delegates from 174 nations are expected at the summit in South Africa.

'Lavish junket'

UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher was initially not included in the official UK party, but was included after protests.

Downing Street was said to be concerned the trip would be seen by the press as a lavish junket at the taxpayers expense.

A Downing Street spokeswoman told BBC News Online there would be "no more than 70" delegates from the UK in Johannesburg "at any one time" during the two week summit.

But she refused to say how many UK delegates would be attending in total.

'Valuable lessons'

Rhodri Morgan, who is taking three officials with him to Johannesburg, has defended his decision to attend.

He said Wales had "valuable lessons" to share with other countries about "sustainable development".

We have to learn to live differently, and we have a key role to play in sharing the lessons we have already learned with other nations

Rhodri Morgan
Welsh first minister

"We also know all about the alternative - unsustainable development if you like," he added.

"Our communities and landscape still bears the scars of that kind of development, which didn't consider the long term future.

"We have to learn to live differently, and we have a key role to play in sharing the lessons we have already learned with other nations."

Mr Morgan is sponsoring an event at the summit aimed at creating a global network of regional governments to promote sustainable development.

He is also due to give a speech on corporate trust and responsibility and meet representatives of other regional governments.

'Small delegation'

Scotland's first minister, Jack McConnell, is to head a 10 strong delegation from Scotland, including environomental campaigners and business leaders.

A spokesman said Mr McConnell would be taking three officials with him, including a special adviser and private secretary and would be "paying for" two other members of the delegation.

Mr McConnell said: "The Scottish civic delegation will make sure that the views of Scottish people are heard and that Scotland's participation brings real benefits on the ground in Scotland."

Mr McConnell plans to visit to a township school to promote an eco-schools programme.

He will also make a speech on environmental justice and promote overseas investment in Scottish higher education.


This isn't an environmental summit - it's a summit about sustainable development

Clare Short
A spokesman for Northern Ireland's First Minister, David Trimble, said the Stormont administration would be present at the earth summit but no decisions have been taken about who specifically will go.

He stressed that the delegation would be "small".

Meanwhile, in an apparent swipe at Mr Meacher, International Development Secretary Clare Short insisted the Earth Summit was primarily about tackling Third World poverty and not environmental issues.

'Lone voice'

The row comes as Mr Meacher launched an attack on the government's record on sustainable development.

John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister
Mr Prescott will lead the delegation
He claims Labour has failed to put the issue at the heart of its policies.

In an interview in the Sunday Times Mr Meacher claimed that he was a "lone voice in the wilderness" of the cabinet when it came to the environment.

He said: "I make no bones about it. I don't think the government as a whole is yet ready to take the magnitude of decisions I think are necessary."

He indicated the sort of direction that he wanted to take policy by pointing to a little publicised European initiative to ban big engine cars from city centres.

Mr Meacher also expressed deep reservations about a new airport planned for wildlife haven Cliffe in north Kent.

'Catastrophic'

Friends of the Earth director Charles Secrett praised Mr Meacher's stance.

But Clare Short told BBC Radio 4's the World This Weekend: "This isn't an environmental summit. It's a summit about sustainable development.

"The biggest challenge to the world is to guarantee to the poor of the world development in a planet that we keep sustainable."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Robinson
"Proof again of the old adage... 'when the cat's away the mice will play'"
Friends of the Earth Director Charles Secrett
"Mr Meacher is speaking a truth the government would do well to listen to"

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See also:

11 Aug 02 | Politics
30 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
15 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
08 Aug 02 | Politics
06 Aug 02 | Politics
09 Aug 02 | Politics

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