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Small Steps: World Summit delegates wrangle over eco-friendly future

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12:01pm, September 11, 2002

The World Summit on Sustainable Development concluded in controversy last week in Johannesburg.

Some delegates claimed that the United Nations meeting was a success, with agreements on many issues. Detractors argued that the 10-day summit was a waste of time, pointing to the lack of specific targets and deadlines within those agreements.

More than 20,000 government delegates and others descended on South Africa for the summit, which began Aug. 26. The meeting was organized to focus governments on improving the quality of life for poor people while minimizing environmental damage and conserving resources.

The meeting coincided with the 10th anniversary of the U.N. Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro (SN: 6/20/92, p. 407). Despite drawing much attention, the earlier summit failed to live up to many of its goals, which were similar to those in Johannesburg.

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