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A Successful World Summit on Sustainable Development

In August 2002, the Bush Administration, represented by a delegation that included Secretary of State Powell and Under Secretary Dobriansky, then-EPA Administrator Whitman, and CEQ Chairman Connaughton participated in the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg , South Africa . At the Summit , the Administration focused on integrating all three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental – with a focus on concrete, specific actions to reduce poverty throughout the developing world. The Summit reiterated strong international support for the new paradigm for development that was presented by President Bush at the UN Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey, Mexico, which emphasized that industrialized nations can do more to help developing countries grow, and developing countries must establish the conditions necessary for growth: good governance and a commitment to free markets and individual freedom. The Summit also reinforced the agenda agreed to at the World Trade Organization meeting in Doha , Qatar , underlining the importance of trade liberalization as one of the most important catalysts to sustainable economic growth.

The Summit broke new ground by including the concept of government, non-governmental organization (NGO), and private-sector partnerships as a UN-endorsed mechanism for implementing the WSSD Plan of Action. It demonstrated what the United States and many others have learned by experience: successful development requires strong partnerships between governments, civil society groups, businesses, and individuals. For example, the United States and Japan announced, along with NGOs, foundations, and private sector partners, a Clean Water for People initiative to dramatically expand access to clean water and sanitation services in the developing world, improve watershed management, and increase the productivity of water in industry and agriculture. The United States is committing $970 million to this initiative over the next three years. The results of the Summit have furthered the President's commitment to sustainable development.

WSSD was successful in four major areas:

  • The Plan of Action and Head of State Declaration reaffirmed the importance of good national governance, national investment in sound economic and social policies and the shared responsibilities between developed and developing countries as a basis for development. The WSSD reinforced the new “compact for development” launched at the Monterrey Financing for Development Conference.
  • WSSD acknowledged the importance of partnerships among governments, private sector and non-government organizations as an important new means of implementing the WSSD Plan of Action. Overall, 220 partnerships (with $235 million in resources) were identified in advance of the Summit , and around 60 partnerships were announced during the Summit by a variety of countries.
  • The Plan for Action focused on obtaining concrete results, which support the Millennium Development Goals.
  • The United States led and announced partnerships in four major areas: $970 million in investments over 3 years on water and sanitation projects, largely in Africa; $43 million in 2003 to leverage an estimated $400 million in clean energy for rural and poor communities; $90 million in 2003 for sustainable agricultural programs; and $53 million for forest protection in the Congo Basin. The United States also reaffirmed its commitment of $2.3 billion through 2003 on health and combating HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases.

The Department of State has also established to provide information on U.S. efforts to work with other governments, the private sector, civil society and other organizations to plan and implement voluntary partnerships that promote economic growth, social development and environmental stewardship.