Delegates put finishing touches on UN Johannesburg summit action plan

Delegates put finishing touches on UN Johannesburg summit action plan

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Concluding negotiations that spanned nine months and three continents, delegates at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, have reached agreement on the last remaining provisions of the action plan to be adopted at the conclusion of the conference, United Nations officials said today.

Concluding negotiations that spanned nine months and three continents, delegates at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, have reached agreement on the last remaining provisions of the action plan to be adopted at the conclusion of the conference, United Nations officials said today.

Aside from a few remaining objections on issues relating to health and human rights, negotiations on the outcome document were completed after round-the-clock sessions at the ministerial level.

Among the agreements reached was a goal to reduce the proportion of people who lack access to proper sanitation by half by 2015, an agreement towards increasing the use of renewable energies, and a number of targets and timetables aimed at protecting or restoring ecosystems.

Nitin Desai, the Summit's Secretary-General, told a press briefing today that the meeting had been successful in imparting a sense of urgency, in achieving "reasonably clear commitments to action in key areas," and in creating partnerships in the five priority areas of water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.

Meanwhile in the Summit's plenary session, world leaders continued their high-level segment, with 84 heads of State or Government slated to speak. Several European leaders pledged to increase their countries' official development assistance in the years ahead, while leaders from developing nations stressed that greater international cooperation was necessary to promote sustainable development.

The high-level segment is expected to wrap up tomorrow with the remaining speakers, including Secretary of State Colin Powell of the United States, followed by the final plenary meeting, where the Summit's outcome documents are scheduled to be submitted for approval.