Sustainable Development: Poverty is All

There are those who go to international meetings hoping things will change. There are the cynics who believe summits change nothing. Then there are those who say it’s right to be sceptical, but one should never assume the worst. Johannesburg might yet spring a surprise. But don’t hold your breath.

The World Today Published 1 August 2002 Updated 23 October 2020 3 minute READ

Alex Kirby

Environmental Correspondent, BBC Online

The Johannesburg summit ought to promise plenty. For a start, it is a chance to redress the imbalance of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. That was supposed to be a conference on environment and development. The Green lobby came back from Rio with some worthwhile gains under their belts on climate and species loss, and some more nebulous achievements on other issues, like forests and deserts.

Development, though, was an untold story. The summit could not even bring itself to set a date for all countries to reach the venerable and unambitious UN target of giving 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product in official foreign aid. After Rio, I ended a report for BBC Radio: ‘For those who think the world as it is is worth conserving, with a few minor changes here and there, the summit has been a success. But to those who have little, it offers little. It does not augur well for the locust years ahead.’

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