NEW YORK - Leaders of 106 countries have officially indicated that they will
attend the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development set for Johannesburg,
South Africa from August 26 to September 4, the UN announced Tuesday.
Delegations from 174 countries will participate in the environment and development
summit, but not all will be led by heads of government or heads of state. A head
of state represents the state but does not exercise political power, while a head
of government is the person in charge of the executive branch of government.
Heads of government or heads of state from Europe, Russia, China, Australia,
New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan and South Korea are among those who
will be attending the summit, but to date the White House has not indicated that
President George W. Bush will go to South Africa.
The National Security Council (NSC) office within the White House told ENS
Tuesday that the President has not made an announcement indicating whether or
not he will attend the summit. Nor has the United States designated a person to
head the delegation, which the United Nations has listed at the ministerial level
on the Provisional List of Speakers for the general debate which takes place during
the last three days of the summit, September 2 through 4.
An NSC spokesperson who preferred to remain anonymous said that Secretary
of State Colin Powell might possibly head the U.S. delegation, or the head job
could be handed to Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky,
who has led U.S. delegations to climate and sustainable development negotiations
for the Bush administration in the past.
The United States, India, Switzerland, Greece, and Austria are the only industrialized
or large developing nations that are still listed at the ministerial level. Any
country can update its listing until it is called upon to speak on the summit
Forty-five other nations are now listed at the ministerial level including:
Chad, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, Estonia, Palestine, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia,
and Syria. Some 65,000 people are expected to travel to Johannesburg for the event
including the official delegates to the summit itself and a significant number
of additional people attending events associated with the Summit, such as the
civil society Global Forum and the Ubuntu village and exhibition.
There are expected to be three main outcomes from the summit, United Nations
organizers say. A political declaration, where heads of state and government commit
to taking the action needed to make sustainable development a reality; A plan
of implementation, negotiated by governments, which sets out in more detail the
action that needs to be taken in specific areas; Commitments by governments and
all other stakeholders to a broad range of partnership activities that will implement
sustainable development at the national, regional and international level.
The Johannesburg Metro Council is spending more than R65 million (US$6.5
million) to host the expected delegates. A large portion of the money is being
spent on infrastructure development. Council officials said most of the work will
be completed by July 31.
The council estimates the summit will generate about R1 billion (US$99
million) for the city and create about 14,000 jobs.
Some 200 metro buses will be made available to transport delegates to summit
venues and tourism destinations around the city and to the Sandton Conference
Center where the official summit will take place.
Due to the threat of protests during the summit, a number of businesses in
Sandton are planning to temporarily relocate to Midrand, the South African Press
Association (SAPA) reported last week. The companies are concerned that any possible
mayhem could disrupt their business operations.
"Radical activists have said that they would ignore police plans to crack
down on their protests during the global environmental summit," SAPA reported.
Landless people from communities across the Johannesburg area, organized as
The Landless People's Movement, say they are suffering forced removals at the
hands of Joburg City Councilors.
"The government's brutal strategy to forcibly remove poor and landless people
from their homes is aimed at hiding South African poverty from the world ahead
of the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development," they said in a July
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2002