The Passionists - Compassion

World Summit on Sustainable Development: Johannesburg

by Kevin Dance, C.P.

SpacerREPRESENTATIVES OF ALL the member states of the United Nations, as well as over thirty thousand members of "civil society," met in Johannesburg, South Africa from August 19th to September 4th, 2002 for a world summit on sustainable development. Their purpose was to evaluate progress made towards fulfilling goals set ten years previously at a UN summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

SpacerThe goals were:

  • To agree on strong international commitments to deal with the scandal of one third of the world's people (2 billion people) living in poverty.
  • To protect the environment of the earth from further degradation.

Any Progess?

SpacerThe sobering truth is that little was done to realize these goals in ten years. More people, rather than less, are doomed to live in poverty. The earth given into our care by God continues to be damaged and polluted. right: Church Center for the United Nations

SpacerWhy haven't the goals been met? Because those who drive the world agenda are keen to have us produce more and to consume more, as a way to profit. We are taught to want more rather than less. This "growth" model favors countries and corporations of the industrialized North, which dictate international decisions and are not listening to the moderating call of "sustainable development."

What is "Sustainable Development"?

Spacer"Sustainable development" is a concept first enunciated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, which became known as the Earth Summit. It is defined as "meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

SpacerThe Rio conference introduced two important principles:

SpacerThe Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility for the Environment. This means that every country has the responsiblility to care for the earth, but since some pollute the earth more than others, they have a bigger responsibility to clean up the mess.

SpacerThe Precautionary Principle. This means that if there is a well-founded fear that a course of action will do harm to the environment, then it must be avoided. There was a strong presence of Christian churches and other faith traditions at Rio De Janeiro in 1992.


next: What happened at Johannesburg?


also in this issue:
The Catholic Church and the United Nations
The U.N. at a Glance
Passionists at the United Nations
Security at the Security Council, 1947 Meet Fr David Cinquegrani

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