Next year's Johannesburg summit is 'highest corporate priority' - UNDP chief
UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown made the comments on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at a regional meeting preparing for the September 2002 Johannesburg forum, which will assess the implementation of Agenda 21, the blueprint for protecting the environment while promoting economic and social development agreed on at the 1992 Earth Summit.
Mr. Malloch Brown noted that environmental damage - from disappearing tropical forests to diminishing supplies of clean water - had a "disproportionately brutal impact on the poor" and stressed that unless such problems were reversed, the world would not meet the development targets set at last year's UN Millennium Summit, particularly the goal of cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015.
He said UNDP's environment and energy programme was the largest of its six priority areas, emphasizing that the agency's strengths lay in helping countries put in place policies and institutions to protect the environment while promoting human development.
In Latin America and the Caribbean alone, UNDP has disbursed more than $1 billion through the Global Environment Facility, the Montreal Protocol and Capacity 21 - all initiatives to fund environmentally sustainable development. The agency has also committed hundreds of millions of dollars of its own resources and other financing to critical areas - from water to land management to combating desertification.