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Summit on Sustainable Development

2002-9-12

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Last week, delegates from almosttwo-hundred nations agreed on a plan designed to protect theenvironment and help poor people in developing countries. They metat the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development inJohannesburg, South Africa.

The action plan calls for countries to reduce by half the numberof people living without clean water and waste removal systems bythe year two-thousand-fifteen. Delegates also promised to reduce theloss of plant and animal species and to protect the world's fishsupply. They agreed to urge businesses to work to protect theenvironment. The plan also includes promises to deal with suchissues as foreign occupation, terrorism, and AIDS.

The goal of the meeting was to find ways to put into effect theideas that were discussed ten years ago at the Earth Summit in Riode Janeiro, Brazil. However, many delegates were unhappy with themeeting in Johannesburg. They said most of the summit was a fight tostop governments from weakening already-existing agreements.

Environmental groups said the summit was a failure. They said thefinal agreement lacked clear targets to deal with climate change.They also said it failed to end government payments to farmers insome countries. These payments make it difficult for developingnations to compete in world markets.

Environmental groups criticized the United States for blockingagreement on a stronger final plan. For example, the United Stateshelped block a proposal by the European Union to set goals for usingrenewable energy, such as power from the sun.

The delegates condemned the Bush administration for rejecting theKyoto treaty on global warming last year. They said President Bush'sdecision not to attend the summit showed he is not serious aboutenvironmental protection.

American Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke during theconference. But he was repeatedly forced to halt his speech asdemonstrators shouted and held signs in protest. The criticism beganwhen Mister Powell condemned the government in Zimbabwe for its landreform policies. He said the policies are causing widespreadstarvation.United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said theagreement reached at the summit is an important beginning.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written byCynthia Kirk.