World Environment News
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EU, US say want concrete results at Earth Summit

Date: 17-Jul-02
Country: DENMARK

"This conference will not just be about rhetoric, but there'll be concrete, tangible projects that will bring water to people who need it, sanitation for those who need it," Charles Ries, deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Bureau of European and Euroasian Affairs, said after meeting EU and Danish officials.

Denmark took over the rotating EU presidency on July 1.

Ries said a meeting of developed and developing countries this week at the United Nations would take forward discussions of the programme of action for the earth summit which 120 ministers failed to agree upon at Bali in early June.

The Johannesburg summit seeks ways to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015 while curbing pollution.

"In addition, in coming weeks we will be talking about a variety of partnerships, between agencies and NGO's (non-governmental organistations) and so forth in specific areas. That's an important component for a successful conference," he said.

Many environmental activists say there is no chance of meaningful progress at Johannesburg's August 26-September 4 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

They blame the United States for putting the brakes on work on environmentally-friendly policies for water and sanitation, energy, agricultural productivity, biodiversity and health.

"We made progress on the Johannesburg world summit talks and can initiate a process that will ensure a positive input to the meeting from the U.S. and European sides," said Danish Foreign Ministry official Michael Zilmer-Johns.

"That makes it much more likely that we will have a positive outcome of the Johannesburg summit."

South Africa says it expects more than 100 world leaders and around 60,000 participants at the WSSD and parallel gatherings of non-governmental organisations and business.

Among Western leaders French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have both pledged to attend.

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