Positive Environment News

Earth Summit may not yield concrete plan - US aide

Date: 18-Jul-02
Country: USA

U.S. Commerce Undersecretary Grant Aldonas acknowledged the potential for the August 26-September 4 meeting in Johannesburg to be dominated more by talk than action.

"We're not at the stage ... (where) we've got a concrete five-point annual plan we can follow through on," Aldonas said at a conference on trade and development issues.

"There's a sense that it will be a gaggle and we ought to use it as gaggle. As a consequence, one of the things that you want to do is not to lose the opportunity to put new ideas out on the table to change the future of the debate," he said.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) seeks to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015 while curbing pollution.

South Africa says it expects more than 100 world leaders and around 60,000 participants at the summit and parallel meetings held by nongovernmental organizations and business.

U.S. President George W. Bush is not expected at the summit, although both French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have pledged to attend.

Bush does plan to visit Africa in 2003, following recent trips by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.

Commerce Secretary Don Evans also plans a trip to Africa by the end of the year, Aldonas said.

Many environmentalists blame the United States for the current low expectations for the summit by putting the brakes on environmentally-friendly policies for water and sanitation, energy, agricultural productivity, biodiversity and health.

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