\"The most toxic substance, also for the environment, is poverty,\" Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), told a news conference after meeting Norway\'s Environment Minister Boerge Brende. Toepfer said next year\'s U.N. world environment summit in Johannesburg - expected to gather more than 60,000 delegates, activists and business leaders as well as 135 heads of state - would be a failure if it did not produce concrete action plans. \"The Johannesburg summit must be a summit of implementation and not only of declaration,\" he said, adding: \"We already have lots of conventions and protocols.\" The conference in September 2002, a follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, should focus on pressing issues for the developing world such as energy and water supplies and would have to include private companies in the global economy to make any headway, Toepfer said. \"We need private businesses in Johannesburg, and we need them in a reliable and concrete way,\" he said. The head of the Nairobi-based UNEP said he wanted the global economy\'s help with technology transfer from the rich to the poor and a break away from the dependence on exports of raw materials seen among many developing countries. \"We already have huge investments from private businesses in developing countries, but only in 10 to 11 countries,\" he said, adding that Africa, the Caribbean and parts of South America were suffering from being left out of the global economy. Brende said he was working to create an U.N. High Commissioner for the Environment as well as an U.N.-sponsored international expert panel in order to lift environmental issues higher on the global agenda. \"And we would like to see Mr Toepfer as the High Commissioner for the Environment,\" Brende said. Topfer declined to comment about his candidature for such a position, but said the idea was a \"very innovative proposal\" in the effort to create firmer global organisational structures. Story by Erik Brynhildsbakken REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
Environment summit in South Africa to battle poverty
OSLO - The world must work to find an antidote to the poison of poverty at a follow-up Earth Summit in South Africa next year, a U.N. environment chief said yesterday.
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