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The General Assembly
by Mandy P
The World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa •• Sept. 3, 2002 •• SolarQuest® iNet News Service •• There is nothing quite so awe-inspiring as sitting in the same room as all the world leaders. Often it is exciting enough to catch a glimpse of just one, but more then 60 is an experience unparalleled.

The morning session of Monday's General Assembly was an occasion that I will never forget. Not only were we able to hear the opening statements of leaders across the globe but it also gave as a chance to discover what they think the key issues of sustainable development are. More then that we were able to catch a glimpse of the political struggles that exist between nations and the war of words that results.

Bush and Blair came under a fair amount of fire and the most vocal with the accusations was, surprisingly, Dr Sam Nujoma, the Namibian President who spoke passionately about Africans being the underdogs. He also criticised Blair for the sanctions that he had imposed on Zimbabwe saying that 78% of the land in Zimbabwe was ex-colonialist owned. Nujoma accentuated his words with a fair amount of finger shaking and finger pointing and received much support from a large portion of the audience.

In response Blair was measured and level-headed, he pointed out that the issue of the summit is Sustainable development and that this is where the focus must lie. He spoke on how proud the British are to be able to say that they have met and exceeded the targets of the Kyoto protocol. He also promised to increase aid to Africa, stating that the continent was a passion of his. The only slight blur on the good image he managed to create for himself was the dig he took at Robert Mugabe, by mentioning the gross injustice that Robert is doing Zimbabwe and equating it all to gross crimes committed. Relevant issues of course, but certainly not a critical part of a 5-minute opening statement.

Let's hope that those leaders who do recognise the importance of preserving our planet for future generations will be able to lay aside their differences and get some work done.


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