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Aug 09, 2002

Moosa delivers 'state of the summit' briefing

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© Reuse this The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mohammed Valli Moosa, yesterday briefed Parliament on South Africa's state of readiness to host the biggest ever global gathering, the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

Addressing MPs in the National Assembly, Minister Moosa said South Africa was nearing the end of a long preparatory process for the summit, spanning the last two years.

"At the beginning of the process it was not possible to say with any degree of certainty what the scale, agenda and outcomes of the summit would be. But now on the eve of the event the stage is set and the agenda is clear," he stated.

He said this agenda included consensus by participating countries on a number of areas, including that the central focus of the summit should be the eradication of poverty as well as the fact that implementation and delivery must involve partnerships between governments of the North and the South and between governments and the private sector and civil society, The summit should also place a balanced emphasis on all three pillars of sustainable development namely social development, economic development and the protection of the environment.

It should also focuss on access to water and sanitation; access to energy; healthcare; food security; and biodiversity and ecosystem protection.

Africa must also enjoy priority at the summit, with NEPAD serving as the delivery vehicle, and it should endorse and rededicate itself to the decisions of the Rio Earth Summit, including Agenda 21.

Minister Moosa pointed out that outstanding areas in which agreements have not been reached included: - The application of the principle of 'common but differentiated responsibility' among countries for sustainable development.

- The setting of targets for the provision of adequate sanitation and the use of renewable forms of energy.

- The phasing out of environmentally harmful and trade distorting subsidies, - The mobilisation of already committed funds and the need for new and additional resources.

- The link between sustainable development and good governance.

He said at the Friends of The Chair meeting that was held in July in New York, it became clear that, while tough negotiations will take place at the summit, there was a genuine commitment on the part of most countries to a constructive search for solutions.

"As a result of these consultations, South Africa accepted a proposal made by, among others, the G77 group that negotiations begin two days before the actual start of the official summit on August 24. We are confident that all the outstanding matters can be resolved," he said.

An upbeat Moosa added all indications were that the summit will be attended by a large number of Heads of State and government officials.

"This, together with the presence in Johannesburg of global leaders of all sectors of society, promises to make this an event of deep significance to humanity," he said.

The official UN gathering will, in addition to governments, provide for the active participation of representatives of among others youth, women, trade unions and business. Representatives of these groups will also have the opportunity to interact directly with Heads of State and Government in a series of relatively intimate roundtable meetings.

In addition to the events at the Sandton Convention Centre, hundreds of parallel events will take place elsewhere in Johannesburg and in other South African cities.

The Global Forum Opening Ceremony will be held on August 23 at the Johannesburg Stadium, the South African Government Official Welcome Ceremony will be held on August 25 at Ubuntu Village and on the day before the Heads of State segment of the WSSD, President Mbeki and Secretary-General Kofi Anan will visit the Cradle of Humankind in order to pay homage to our origins. He said both the Gauteng Province and the Johannesburg Metro are leaving no stone unturned to make the event a success. The Province is engaged in the "Greening of the Summit" project.

"The aim is to establish an international benchmark in the minimisation of the environmental impact of huge events. Ninety percent of the waste produced by the summit will be recycled and an innovative scheme would compensate for the emissions of carbon resulting from the energy used in the Summit activities. The Metro has spruced up the city to give a warm African welcome to the visitors," he said.

The Minister further thanked the 5 000 Johannesburg citizens who had volunteered to perform a range of tasks during the summit. "In response to a call for volunteers the citizens of Johannesburg responded in the spirit of vuk'uzenzele. I would like to extend a thank you to these patriots," he concluded.

Edited by: Zonika Botha
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