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Preparing for the UN Summit on Sustainable Development
an article by Hugo

I am professionally bound to the United Nations whose ideals I always have felt strongly drawn to. Nonetheless, I recently experienced a state of frustration and sadness when attending the negotiations on the implementation of Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is the important action plan adopted by 189 nations at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, to guide humanity towards the new millennium in a spirit of peace, constructive co-operation and respect for the Earth. For more information, see The Johannesburg Summit on the Internet.

The Earth Summit called by the UN at Rio de Janiero projected a vision of development balanced between our economic and social needs and the capacity of the Earth's resources and ecosystems to meet current and future needs - a powerful long-term vision. However, 10 years later, despite initiatives by Governments, international organizations, business, civil society groups and individuals to achieve this type of development, called "sustainable development", progress towards the goals retained in Agenda 21 has been slower than anticipated. In some respects conditions are actually worse than they were 10 years ago. Now, I got the feeling that there was even less change in the vested interests of the parties as my own professional experience had taught me over the years, be it with respect to fierce liberalism, or the claim to repeat unsustainable development patterns rightfully, following the path of the richer part of the world.

Nonetheless, the negotiation process I attended was accompanied by so many promising encounters with so many people committed to universally shared values and ideals, that I had to understand the value of patience and compliance with the human condition. The overall process might look staggering and even send out pessimist signs. However, the steps to achieve progress at a broader level are sustained myriad inputs of personal will and exchange, under conditions of friendship, understanding, personal effort, shared vision and beauty.


Question(s) related to this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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Latest reader comment:

[responding to CPNN article The film 'Demain', a manifesto?

Yes initiatives from the grassroots are important and necessary which will have a direct impact on the present and the future. But there are governments like India which are conscious of over exploitation of the earth’s resources and are taking suitable policy measures and also taking legal action against the exploiters.

We must emphasize public transportation and reduce our dependence on individual cars even though the auto industry will not like this.

Otherwise it is not demain but aujourdhui — the problems are there for us to see.

This report was posted on April 11, 2002.