"UN Blocks Future Earth Summits"

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Posted by Lilly from D007013.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Sunday, September 08, 2002 at 8:41PM :

Sunday, September 8, 2002

UN Blocks Future Earth Summits
by Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor in Johannesburg

No more summits are planned by the United Nations on environment and development until governments put into practice what they have decided to do.

Instead of high-profile summits, the UN will set up an unprecedented operation to report on how governments are performing – naming and shaming those that do not do well – and campaigning for change. The move follows the disappointing Earth Summit in Johannesburg last week, which produced few new decisions.

Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, said: "We do not need more big multilateral agenda-setting conferences, we need a real period of intensive implementation.''

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela – speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 which represents all developing countries at the UN – added: "We have to have a radical change in the format of these summits. There is no proper dialogue.'' And Juan Somavia, the Chilean Director General of the International Labour Organisation, added: "Repeating the format does not necessarily advance the cause. At recent international conferences, a lot of energy has been put into stopping backsliding."

The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has appointed Mark Malloch Brown – the Briton who heads the UN Development Program– as "campaign manager and scorekeeper'' for the follow-up, to ensure that Johannesburg is not followed by a period of inaction as after previous summits. Mr Malloch Brown has begun to prepare a series of reports on developing countries to see how far they are matching a set of goals adopted at the Millennium Summit two years ago which would halve dire poverty in the world by 2015.

The first reports on 15 countries will go to the UN General Assembly in October and these are now to be expanded to monitor every country in the developing world every year. UN agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will work with the governments involved to draw them up.

''I want to be able to tell the world how many kids are going to school, for example, in each country, and what the drop-out rates are,'' he says. "This is going to be a revolution in implementing decisions.''

He draws inspiration from the Rowntree report on poverty in York in the early years of the century which produced reforms by Churchill, Lloyd George and Beveridge, and which eventually led to the establishment of the welfare state in Britain.

The new push – which is being funded by the Department for International Development, together with Norway and the Netherlands – will also have a campaigning team that will try to mobilize public opinion, particularly in rich countries. Mr Malloch Brown says he plans to draw on the success of the anti-landmine and anti-debt campaigns in drawing up his strategy.

And the effort will be underpinned by an expert taskforce chaired by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who has been a partner of Bono in the pop star's successful attempt to persuade the Bush administration to increase aid.

2002 lndependent Digital (UK) Ltd

-- Lilly
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