WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Colin Powell will lead the American delegation
to the World Summit
on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from
August 26 through September 4. President George W. Bush made the announcement
late Monday, giving no explanation as to why he will not be attending the summit
to join 106 other world leaders on the speaker's podium.
Secretary Powell will be joined by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Christie Todd Whitman, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality James
Connaughton, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Andrew Natsios,
and Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, the President said.
U.S. President George W. Bush takes a break from cedar clearing at his ranch in
Crawford, Texas. The White House on Monday confirmed President Bush will not attend
the Johannesburg Earth Summit next week but gave no reason. (Handout/Eric Draper/The
The World Summit on Sustainable Development is sponsored by the United Nations
as a 10 year follow up to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which was attended
by then President George H.W. Bush, father of the current President.
Other heads of government and heads of state who are on the speakers list
in Johannesburg include all the other leaders of G8 countries - UK Prime Minister
Tony Blair, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder,
Italian President Silvio Berlusconi and Russia's Vladimir Putin among them.
President Bush has been under pressure from Republican Party and conservative
lobbyists not to attend the summit.
A letter to Bush made public Friday by Friends of the Earth UK shows the nature
of that pressure. Dated August 2, the letter is signed by 31 political groups
and individuals. It says "We applaud your decision not to attend the summit in
"Even more than the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992," the letter says, "the Johannesburg
Summit will provide a global media stage for many of the most irresponsible and
destructive elements involved in critical international economic and environmental
issues. Your presence would only help to publicize and make more credible various
anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalization, and anti-Western agendas."
Signatories to the letter include representatives of seven think tanks that
receive funding from oil giant ExxonMobil, according to figures in an official
The lobbyists' letter states that "the least important global environmental
issue is potential global warming, and we hope that your negotiators at Johannesburg
can keep it off the table and out of the spotlight."
In his announcement Monday, President Bush said the U.S. team will offer plans
that "advance the new approach to development that I embraced with other national
leaders at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development this past May."
"This new approach is based on shared accountability among developed and developing
nations," the President said.
"The U.S. delegation will come to Johannesburg with concrete and practical
proposals for strong and lasting partnerships to advance some of the world's key
development priorities - clean water, modern energy, good health, and productive
agriculture - that can lead us to a world without poverty," said President Bush.
A U.S. federal government report prepared for the World Summit on Sustainable
Development issued today says the U.S. team will be promoting "good governance"
and anticorruption at the summit, in particular "an integrated, cross-sectoral
approach to addressing governance and sustainable development."
"The U.S. Government promotes good governance in every region of the world
and believes that a good governance component makes environmentally oriented programs
more effective. USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] is the lead
agency in this work, providing $700 million annually to support an array of
democracy and governance activities," the report says.
The goals of U.S. assistance programs that support good governance are: democratic
institutions that are effective, accountable, and transparent; an independent
and fair judiciary; law enforcement that - with integrity - protects the people
while strengthening their capacity to combat corruption; sound monetary; fiscal,
and trade policies that promote economic growth, social development, and environmental
protection; participation by all members of civil society in decisions that affect
Copyright © Environment News Service (ENS) 2002