Johannesburg Chosen for World Environment Summit in 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, December 11, 2000 (ENS) - The most important global environmental conference since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002, the South African Environmental Affairs Department said Sunday.

The World Summit on Sustainable Developments, otherwise known as the meeting of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Rio+10, is intended to take stock of progress made towards environmental protection and restoration in the ten years since the Rio summit.

Rio+10 is expected to build on Agenda 21, the plan of work agreed upon at the Earth Summit to conserve and protect the environment.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg, South Africa (Photo courtesy Gauteng Province)
The most important issues the review should focus on are poverty and environment, and resource efficiency, said government delegates to an April meeting of the Commission for Sustainable Development. One of the review's main outcomes should be a worldwide sustainable energy strategy, they said.

Among the other suggested topics were the link between poverty and environment, the reversal of the decline of natural resources, and the move towards sustainable production and consumption patterns. The majority of delegations felt the review should not renegotiate the agreements made in Rio but rather focus on further efforts for its implementation.

The Sandton Convention Centre, the venue for the ministerial portion of the global summit, said the event would likely attract about 64,000 local and international delegates, including over 100 heads of government. The 1992 Rio Earth Summit attracted 181 heads of state and heads of government.

"This is the largest international conference ever to come to South Africa - five times as large as the AIDS conference which was held in Durban this year," the Sandton Centre said in a statement.

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The Sandton Convention Centre opened earlier this year just north of Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo courtesy Tsogo Sun)
Jabu Mabuza, CEO of Tsogo Sun, owners of Sandton Convention Centre, said Gauteng province is the obvious choice for such a large international conference. "It is the economic powerhouse and gateway to southern Africa," he said. Gauteng Province is the smallest but most industrialized of the provinces of South Africa. Business activities and conventions account for 80 percent of all visitors to the province.

Grant Thornton Kessel Feinstein, which compiled an economic impact assessment for Greater Johannesburg's bid document, stated in their report that the conference would result in a direct and indirect contribution of Rand 1.6 billion and 16,400 jobs to the South African economy.

The choice of South Africa as a location for the Rio+10 summit answers the concerns of the developing countries that the gathering be held in a developing country, preferably in Africa.

The United Nations undersecretary general for economic and social affairs, Nitin Desai, said in April that the most important question about Rio+10 is, what do countries expect to achieve from the review process?

He suggested that the focus of the preparatory work be on how to ensure an effective analysis of barriers to the full implementation of the Rio commitments, and how to ensure effective undertakings to overcome those barriers. Issues that had not been dealt with in the prior review should now be addressed, he said, such as linkages, financial resources and technology transfer.