Feature Stories

Plenary Hall

The Plenary Hall during the Summit. (Photo credit: UN DPI)

World Summit Ends, Marking New Beginning

IAEA Initiates Partnership Proposals for Environment, Water, Energy

Staff Report

4 September 2002

The World Summit on Sustainable Development concluded this week, 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa with renewed commitments among governments, citizen groups, and businesses for urgent and sustained action to cut poverty, protect the environment, and improve access to water, energy, food, and health services.

"Governments have agreed here on an impressive range of concrete commitments and action that will make a real difference for people in all regions of the world," said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the closing press conference. "The Summit represents a major leap forward in the development of partnerships." Mr. Annan described the Summit as marking a beginning, not an end, saying that the true test of Summit achievements will be the follow-up actions it generates.

The IAEA participated in the Summit, focusing attention on the contributions of nuclear science and technology to the goals of sustainable development. New IAEA partnership proposals have been initiated in the areas of environment, freshwater, and energy. Through its participation at the World Summit, the IAEA demonstrated how nuclear science and technology offers valuable tools to address many of the issues at the root of poverty.

The Summit's major document was a Plan of Implementation, which sets targets and timetables for action on a wide range of issues. They include halving the proportion of people who lack access to clean water or proper sanitation; increasing access to modern energy services; preserving biodiversity; and developing food security strategies in Africa.

Participation and interest in the Summit ran high. More than 100 Heads of State took part, joining more than 9000 delegates, 8000 non-governmental organizations, and 4000 members of the press.