Preparations resumed today for a global summit that will examine progress since a landmark United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro a decade ago embraced economic growth, social development and environmental protection to achieve sustainable development.
As delegates gathered at UN Headquarters in New York for the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), a senior UN official told the audience that the challenge for the forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, was to put sustainability at the centre of the development agenda.
Nitin Desai, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the WSSD, said that the Summit, to be held from 26 August to 4 September, must reassert political commitment to sustainable development at the highest level and translate those commitments into concrete measures. It must also take into account the changes in the world since 1992, the most important of which had been globalization.
Speaking later at a UN press briefing, Mr. Desai added that the Summit would combine elements of the emerging anti-poverty agenda that had come out of the 2000 Millennium Declaration, and the sustainable development agenda, in particular through political and financial commitments.
Other speakers at this morning's opening session included Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, who said that 10 years after the historic Rio Summit, Johannesburg would be another landmark event that should reinvigorate international commitment to sustainable development. It was, therefore, crucial that all perspectives be taken into account in order to develop the broadest ownership and participation.
The Preparatory Committee also heard presentations on the results of a number of intergovernmental meetings and processes. Speakers included representatives of Germany, Iceland, Canada and Austria, as well as the representatives of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).