|This article originally appeared in
|UN World Summit Pact Gets Mixed Reviews
|By ERIC J. LYMAN
|September 3, 2002
With more than 100 heads of state on hand as the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development draws
to a close, a fourth straight marathon negotiating session finished the text on renewable energy, the last
remaining point of contention in the summit's key implementation text.
But delegates gave the 71-page action plan—which sets out proposals on an array of environmental, anti-
poverty, and sustainable development issues—mixed reviews, and environmentalists blasted the
agreement for being too weak.
The final sticking point was language regarding targets for renewable energy. The two main proposals
were for a goal of 15 percent of the world's power to come from renewable energy by 2010, or 10 percent
by 2012. Most environmental groups supported the 10 percent target because it included a stricter
definition of what constituted renewable energy, eliminating large hydroelectric and biomass projects,
which carry their own environmental risks.
But with the two sides deadlocked, and 109 world leaders urging the negotiations to end, delegates
chose text that did not list any target for renewable energy use, instead calling for countries to "with a
sense of urgency, substantially increase the global share of renewable energy sources, with the objective
of increasing its contribution to total energy supply."
Summit organizers applauded delegates for finally finishing what had been an unusually difficult
negotiation process, but environmental advocates took a different view.
"The final document is extremely weak and the renewable energy text is appalling," World Wildlife Fund
activist Javier Sessa said. "Calling for increased renewable energy use without targets is like trying to fight
crime without having any laws that say what is legal and what is illegal. It is a crime that all this money and
effort went into producing something that will do so little good."
Delegates themselves were more philosophical.
"The important thing is that we have an agreement, something everyone agreed on," one Italian negotiator
said. "You can argue individual points, but this is much better than having no text at all."
Aside from the text on renewable energy, the implementation document calls for countries by 2015 to
halve the proportion of people in the world living on less than U.S. $1 a day and the number of people who
suffer from chronic hunger, and to double the number of people with access to safe drinking water.
Also, the text establishes a world solidarity fund to eradicate poverty and calls on countries to develop
integrated water management plans by 2005, restore world fishing stocks by 2015, and minimize risks
associated with the use and production of toxic chemicals by 2020.
The text also calls on countries—most notably the United States—that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol
on global warming to do so, as well as to reduce biodiversity loss by 2010, reduce infant mortality rates by
two-thirds and maternal mortality rates by three-quarters by 2015 compared to 2000 levels, make basic
education available universally by 2015—and it urges developed countries to donate 0.7 percent of their
gross domestic product to development aid.
"Whatever the virtue of individual points, it is clear that the text covers a wide variety of very important
issues," a conference spokeswoman said.
According to summit rules, there is a slight possibility that further changes could be made to the text
before it is officially approved by the complete plenary on Wednesday, but organizers say that such a move
is extremely unlikely.
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The next step is to finalize the draft of a political statement, which will highlight the main points of the
implementation text and will be signed by all 191 delegations in attendance at the ten-day summit.
Until then, the parade of world leaders addressing the summit is to continue for a second consecutive
day. Among the 85 delegation heads to speak on Tuesday were Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, Russian
Chairman Mikhail Kasyanov, Mexican President Vincente Fox, and Israeli Foreign Minister Simon Peres.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, the head of the U.S. delegation in the absence of President Bush, was
scheduled to arrive in Johannesburg later Tuesday and to address the summit on Wednesday.
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