INTERVIEW - \"Hard green\" agenda would split world - UK\'s Short
LONDON - A \"hard green\" victory for environmentalists at the Earth Summit would set back poverty reduction in the poorest nations and divide the world in two, Britain\'s development minister warned this week. International Development Secretary Clare Short said the meeting, which will attract 100 world leaders next week, had to avoid using environmental concerns as an excuse for \"imposing rules that prevent poor countries from development\".
\"We have to guarantee development to the poor and manage the planet sustainably,\" Short told Reuters in an interview. \"If a very hard green agenda is the outcome it will divide the world.\"
The Johannesburg meeting aims to revive decade-old pledges made at a 1992 Rio summit to pursue environmentally friendly prosperity - focusing on the areas of water and sanitation, health, energy, food security and bio-diversity.
\"Rio 10 years ago focused predominantly on environmental conservation. That isn\'t good enough,\" Short said.
\"Of course you should look after the forests, but if you say \'We can\'t have all these people who live in the forests wanting a better life,\' that won\'t do.\"
Short, who will fly out to the summit in South Africa with Prime Minister Tony Blair next week, said attempts by \"hard greens\" - who came mainly from rich nations - to impose their agenda would be seen by the rest of the world as hypocrisy.
\"The poorest countries will say you polluted and plundered the world. You got your development and now you\'re setting rules that make sure we will never be able to develop.\"
She said the Johannesburg meeting was better geared towards addressing poverty than Rio. \"But we haven\'t got agreement yet. There will be battles in the future. There already are.\"
\"NO MORE JAMBOREES\"
The talks in South Africa follow a series of high-level gatherings over the last two years in New York, Doha and Monterrey aimed partly at cutting barriers to poverty reduction.
\"We\'ve got to really focus on sustainability at this conference - and then we don\'t need many more big international jamborees,\" Short said.
\"We won\'t need the big multilateral, agenda-setting conferences after this round. We need a real period of intensive implementation.\"
Short, an outspoken critic of the United States in a government which takes pride in close transatlantic ties, said she was not surprised at President George W. Bush\'s decision to stay away from the summit.
\"They found it difficult to work in a multilateral way,\" she said. \"But each of the conferences we\'ve had since the Bush administration took over, in the end we\'ve had some progress.\"
\"We can\'t run the world without the agreement and cooperation of the world\'s biggest economy.\"
Story by Dominic Evans
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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