Annan urges focus on ‘practical agenda’ at UN summit on sustainable development

5 February 2002
Secretary-General Kofi Annan

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today urged a group of prominent personalities involved in preparations for a major United Nations forum on sustainable development to focus on “a practical agenda” to make sure the conference produces tangible results and measurable targets.

“Already one clear message is emerging: everyone involved, whether governments or farmers, scientists or other stakeholders, wants the Johannesburg outcome to be more than a long statement of good intentions,” the Secretary-General told the Panel of Eminent Persons he had appointed to prepare recommendations for and help raise awareness of the World Summit for Sustainable Development that will be held in South Africa from 26 August to 4 September.

“Rather, they want strong commitments and practical steps that will achieve our common goal of development that is truly sustainable,” he said.

In remarks to the 13-member Panel meeting in a closed session at UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General underscored the need to devise “specific, practical initiatives” for the Summit to consider and endorse. He noted that in a recent report, he had identified 10 main areas – including globalization, health, energy, poverty and capacity building – where new initiatives were especially urgent.

Mr. Annan pointed out, however, that to bring any initiative to life, the UN would need partnerships with all sectors of society, from grass roots non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to corporate titans.

“The United Nations needs not only the influence of Davos, but also the energy of Porto Alegre,” Mr. Annan said, referring to both the World Economic Forum that traditionally brings together political and business leaders in the Swiss town, and the World Social Forum of civil society representatives in Brazil.


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