Africa: Johannesburg Summit, 1, 08/15/02

Africa: Johannesburg Summit, 1, 08/15/02

Africa: Johannesburg Summit, 1 Date distributed (ymd): 020815 Document reposted by Africa Action

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Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+


Less than two weeks before the World Summit on Sustainable Development opens in Johannesburg, the UN has issued a new report warning of threats to long-term security from current failures to address key issues on the Summit agenda. However, there is little sign of willingness of the rich countries, and the U.S. in particular, to address these issues. Instead, in an act casually displaying indifference to urgent needs, President Bush on Aug. 13 decided to reverse emergency congressional spending measures including $200 million for global AIDS for which he earlier took credit at the G-8 Summit in July. (See also last week's posting "Treatment Access Updates" at

This posting contains a press release on the new UN report and an Africa fact sheet from the conference secretariat.

Another posting today contains excerpts from two NGO reports on the last preparatory meeting for the Summit, focusing on the deadlock between North and South on a wide range of issues.

For more on the Johannesburg Summit, see the official conference site, particularly the informative media kit, at:

Other sources include:

The Civil Society Secretariat:

The International Forum on Globalization:


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Note to Readers

Postings from the Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List will be suspended for the rest of the month of August, and will resume in early September.


UN Press Release

13 August 2002

On Eve of World Summit, New UN Report Warns That Current Patterns of Development Compromise Long-Term Security of Earth and its People

UN Calls on World Leaders to Commit to a Sustainable Future at Upcoming Johannesburg Summit

Media Contacts

Until 16 August: Klomjit Chandrapanya, tel. (212) 963-9495; Pragati Pascale, tel. (212) 963-6870; Gavin Hart or Meredith Mishel, tel. (212) 584-5031 After 16 August: In New York, (212) 584-5031; see website for contacts in Johannesburg E-mail; Website:

New York, 13 August 2002 - A report released today by the United Nations highlights the disturbing toll of current patterns of development on global living standards and the Earth's natural resources. Published on the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the report, Global Challenge, Global Opportunity, underscores the need for greatly increased efforts to support sustainable development to better manage global resources.

Today's report comes as over 100 world leaders prepare to attend the Summit, to be held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September, where they are set to finalize a new global implementation plan to accelerate sustainable development, and to launch a series of innovative partnerships to promote sustainability.

"Global Challenge, Global Opportunity highlights the choice we face between two futures," said Nitin Desai, Secretary-General of WSSD at the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, which published the report. "If we do nothing to change our current indiscriminate patterns of development, we will compromise the long-term security of the Earth and its people. At Johannesburg, we have an opportunity to build a more secure future, by embracing a more sustainable form of development that will improve lives today, and build a better world for our children and grandchildren."

The report examines a number of issues that UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan has identified as central to the negotiations at the Summit, including water and sanitation, energy, agricultural productivity, biodiversity, and human health. In a sobering assessment of current trends in these areas, the report finds that:

* At present, 40% of the world's population faces water shortages.

* Global sea levels are rising, a clear indication of the impact of global warming.

* Many plant and animal species are at risk of extinction, including half of the large primates, man's closest animal relatives.

* 2.4% of the world's forests were destroyed during the 1990s.

* Every year more than 3 million people die from the effects of air pollution.

On a positive note, the report identifies the emergence of sustainable development practices on a small scale that are beginning to be replicated to address issues such as ecosystem preservation, urban air pollution and child mortality linked to unsafe water. But these gains are imperiled, say Summit representatives, if greater action is not taken soon to reverse the more disturbing trends noted in the report.

The Need for Action on Water, Energy, Agriculture, Biodiversity and Health

Global Challenge, Global Opportunity reviews the most authoritative data concerning global use of natural resources today:

* Water and Sanitation - Despite some recent improvements in this area, 1 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water. By 2025, half of the world's population - 3.5 billion people - will face serious water shortages, particularly in North Africa and West Asia, as groundwater supplies are consumed faster than they can be replenished.

* Energy - Fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions continued to rise in the 1990s, particularly in Asia and in North America. Signs of climate change linked to global warming are also more apparent - for example, droughts have increased in frequency and intensity in parts of Asia and Africa. This is particularly true for the Summit's host country, South Africa, which, along with several neighbouring countries, is currently experiencing severe drought.

* Agricultural Productivity - Demand for food is rising as the world population grows, and the capacity of food production to keep pace is diminishing, especially in developing countries. This situation creates a long- term threat to food security, particularly in regions of the world where land has been degraded due to over-cultivation or desertification. There is now little scope for expanding agricultural land in Southeast Asia and Europe, while in North Africa and West Asia ongoing shortages of freshwater supplies limit the potential for agricultural development.

* Biodiversity and Ecosystems - An estimated total of 90 million hectares of forests - an area larger than the size of Venezuela - was destroyed in the 1990s. Deforestation on this scale is a major threat to biodiversity as forests are home to two-thirds of terrestrial species. In addition, 9% of the world's tree species are endangered, risking the loss of potential medicinal benefits from botanical sources.

* Health - A significant proportion of mortality in least developed countries is caused by environment-related disease. While some progress has been made in this area, contaminated water kills 2.2 million people per year. Malaria is increasing due mainly to the reduced effectiveness of available medications, but the spread of the disease has also been assisted by development factors that favour the breeding of mosquitoes - including irrigation systems and deforestation.

"We now have unequivocal evidence that the goals of human progress and environmental protection are co-dependent," Mr. Desai noted. "Governments, corporations and civil society must come to Johannesburg with a commitment to improve people's lives on a sustainable basis. At the Summit a number of major partnership initiatives will be launched - however, many more such programmes must be set up and implemented if we are to reverse the destructive patterns of development highlighted by this report." Desai cited the innovative WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All) Initiative as an excellent example of the new partnerships. WASH involves 28 Governments, development banks, UN agencies, NGOs and major businesses in a global effort to provide water and sanitation to over 1.1 billion people by 2015.

Food Production Drives Depletion of World's Natural Resources

Global Challenge, Global Opportunity illustrates the underlying impact that the human need for food is having on the world's natural resources. In recent years, demand for food has increased with the growth in the human population, but also because food consumption per person has increased: from 2100 to 2700 calories in developing countries, and from 3000 to 3400 calories in industrialized nations.

The report finds that global water use has increased six-fold over the last century, twice the rate of population growth, and that agriculture represents 70% of this consumption. The greatest drain on the world's freshwater supplies is inefficient agricultural irrigation systems, which lose about 60% of the water they transport. The expansion of agricultural lands is the cause of almost all global deforestation and the single greatest threat to biodiversity and ecosystems. While many of the world's ocean fisheries are fully utilized or over-exploited, aquaculture is increasing rapidly to meet growing demand for fish, according to the report, but further growth will have to address environmental impacts.

"A top priority at the Summit is the need to agree on policies and programmes that improve agricultural yields in order to meet our long-term food needs," said Mr. Desai. "Equally pressing is the goal of expanding sustainable agricultural practices, including the introduction of efficient irrigation systems. At Johannesburg, a new initiative will be launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization involving various governments and NGOs, with the aim of stimulating these advances in the way we produce food."

Parts of the World Being Left Behind in Global Development

In addition to improving access to and use of natural resources, the Summit aims to build on recent global efforts to meet the UN's Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living in poverty by 2015. The Summit marks the culmination of a landmark 12-month period that has seen the agreement on the need for trade reforms at World Trade Organization talks in Doha in November, and the announcement of a major increase in US and European development aid at a UN financing conference in Monterrey in March.

Global Challenge, Global Opportunity finds that some progress was made in reducing poverty in the 1990s, with the number of people living on one dollar a day declining from 1.3 to 1.2 billion. This improvement was concentrated in East Asia and Latin America, regions which also registered a decline in the number of those suffering from chronic hunger. However, the report finds that certain regions are not yet seeing such positive trends. Africa continues to experience the highest levels of mortality, poverty and hunger, and the widest gap in standards of living compared with industrialized countries. The problem extends beyond living standards to the condition of Africa's natural resources: the global deforestation rate is highest in Africa, where an alarming 7% of forests were destroyed in the 1990s.

"Johannesburg seeks to build on the advances at Doha and Monterrey by arriving at a consensus on how the international community's increased funding for development should actually be deployed," said Mr. Desai. "Global living standards will only be improved now and in the long term if these resources are allocated on a genuinely sustainable basis."

First Signs of a Sustainable Future

Amid the worrying trends, the report does find some evidence of sustainability emerging in strategically important areas around the world. Two per cent of forests worldwide have now been certified for sustainable logging practices. Nature reserves, parks and sanctuaries are expanding, and now amount to 5% of total land mass in Europe, and 11% in North America, providing a basis for the rapidly growing global eco-tourism industry.

On energy, the report finds that renewable energy sources have increased their share of the global energy supply from 3.2% in 1971 to 4.5% now, while urban air pollution is being brought under control in middle and high-income countries as living standards rise, with significant reductions recorded from the 1970s to 1990s in Tokyo, Mexico City, Singapore and Seoul. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation improved gradually in the 1990s, and the goal of a 50% reduction in child mortality due to diarrhoeal diseases, adopted at the World Summit for Children in 1990, has been achieved, with child deaths decreasing from 3.3 million in 1990 to 1.7 million in 1999.

"Success in achieving the target on child mortality linked to diarrhoeal diseases, and the unprecedented increase in development funding agreed in Monterrey earlier this year, show what UN Summits can achieve," said Mr. Desai. "Sustainable development is starting to take root in some parts of the world, but it needs to be accelerated rapidly if we are to build a future free of the poverty and instability that will come if we continue our present management of natural resources. World leaders must come to Johannesburg ready to embrace a new approach to global development, and - most importantly - to support this goal with concrete commitments."


World Summit on Sustainable Development Johannesburg, South Africa - 26 August - 4 September 2002

Facts about Africa

The Problem

By virtually every measure, development efforts have lagged in Africa more than in any other region and, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, governments agreed that special efforts were needed to address poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa.

While there are more poor people living in South Asia, the proportion of people living in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is the world's highest - almost half of all Africans live on less than one dollar a day.

Africa's problems have not been effectively addressed and, indeed, have grown over the last two decades. During the 1990s, when most areas of the world were experiencing economic growth, African countries - with several exceptions - did not. Bypassed by globalization, Africa's share of international trade is minuscule and declining. Conflicts still rage in many countries, HIV/ AIDS has had a devastating impact, desertification is spreading and deforestation continues. At the same time, international assistance to Africa has fallen.

There are recent African initiatives to reverse these trends and chart a new course for development. But the international community must help. Sustainable development recognizes that poverty and environmental degradation in one area of the world soon become problems for the rest. During negotiations leading up to the Johannesburg Summit, African governments have urged that the outcome of the Summit should directly address African concerns.

Key Statistics

* While exports from developing countries grew at a rate of 9.6 per cent a year during the 1990s, African exports grew at a far slower rate, and the region's share of world trade fell from 2.7 per cent in 1990 to 2.1 per cent in 2000.

* Almost half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lives in poverty, and the numbers of people living in poverty have increased substantially.

* Almost one third of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished, and that number is increasing.

* While most people worldwide experienced some growth in consumption in recent years, the consumption expenditure of the average African household is 20 per cent less than it was 25 years ago.

* The rate of deforestation in Africa is one of the highest in the world, with the continent losing 5.3 million hectares of forests each year during the 1990s.

* More than 40 per cent of African urban households live in absolute poverty, on less than one dollar a day.

* Official development assistance to most African countries fell by about 25 per cent over the last decade, and for seven countries, ODA declined by more than 50 per cent.

* There are 25 million people living with HIV/ AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, and over 12 million people have died of AIDS in Africa - more than 2 million in a single year. Some 13.2 million African children have been orphaned as a result of the epidemic.

* More than 500 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are dependent on fuelwood for energy. Burning wood and other biomass generates 90 to 98 per cent of household energy in most African countries.

* In sub-Saharan Africa, about 30 per cent of children's potentially healthy lives are lost to death or disability from acute respiratory infections, which, in 60 per cent of all cases, are caused by air pollution, both indoor and outdoor.

* Crop yields in Africa could drop by half if soil degradation continues at the present rate. Almost 65 per cent of agricultural lands have already been affected.

What Needs to Be Done

Spearheaded by the Presidents of South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Senegal and Egypt, a new African-led initiative has emerged over the last three years. Known as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the initiative

aims to eradicate poverty and place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development. It also aims to halt the marginalization of Africa in the globalization process, to restore peace, security and stability, and to promote the role of women in all activities. African governments have expressed their hope that the Johannesburg Summit, especially because it is taking place in Africa, can be a major catalyst in building support for NEPAD by attracting resources, financing and technology partnerships, and by spurring human and institutional capacity building.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his report on the implementation of Agenda 21, and Dr. Emil Salim, the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Summit, have identified several key areas on which the Summit's decisions about sustainable development in Africa should focus:

* Supporting regional, subregional and national initiatives for development, peace, security and stability.

* Providing greater financial support in the struggle against HIV/ AIDS.

* Restructuring international aid and establishing appropriate and effective levels of aid.

* Supporting primary social development objectives such as safe drinking water, literacy and health care.

* Promoting initiatives to achieve access to diversified energy sources, especially in rural areas.

* Promoting affordable access to technology by African companies.

* Bridging the digital divide and reversing the marginalization of Africa.

* Supporting micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa, with an emphasis on agriculturerelated industries.

African ministers, at a regional preparatory meeting for Johannesburg in October 2001, agreed that reaching the objectives of development and poverty eradication depends on good governance, both within each country and at the international level, as well as on transparency in financial, monetary and trading systems. They also stressed that an open and equitable rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading and financial system was essential.


Message-Id: <> From: "Africa Action" <> Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 11:41:24 -0500 Subject: Africa: Johannesburg Summit, 1

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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