This is Steve Ember theVOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.
On Monday, the United Nations will open an importantenvironmental conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. At leasttwenty-thousand people plan to attend the ten-day event. Theyinclude more than one-hundred presidents and prime ministers, fiftyleaders of large businesses, and sixty high court judges. Conferenceorganizers also expect thousands of representatives of financialorganizations, non-governmental organizations, community leaders andactivists.
The official name of theconference is the World Summit on Sustainable Development.Sustainable development permits people to meet their needs withoutharming the environment. It means that people living today do notuse up resources needed in the future. U-N officials say sustainabledevelopment requires a new kind of cooperation among nations. Theysay countries must realize that decisions they make may affectpeople in other parts of the world.
Last week, the U-N released a report warning that currentdevelopment activities are harming humans and the Earth. "GlobalChallenge, Global Opportunity," was published by the U-N Departmentof Economic and Social Affairs. It examines a number of issuesconsidered central to the conference, including world water andwaste systems, energy, agriculture and human health.
The report says one-thousand-million people in the world lacksafe drinking water. It says this number will increase by more thantwo times by twenty-twenty-five. The report says northern Africa andwestern Asia will be the most affected areas.
The U-N report also discusses the increase in the use of fuelssuch as oil and gas. The report notes increasing signs that thepollution produced by burning these fossil fuels is causing climatechanges.
Food demands are rising as the world population grows. But, thereport says current methods of producing food and getting it topeople will not be able to meet the increasing needs. The U-N saysin many areas land has been damaged by too much farming for too manyyears.
The U-N report also warns about the effects of human activity onecological systems. It notes that ninety-million hectares of forestwere destroyed in the nineteen-nineties. That is an area larger thanVenezuela. The report says this destruction kills more than trees.When forests are lost so are huge numbers of animals, birds andplants that live in forests.
Nitin Desai is Secretary General of the World Summit. He says thegoals of human progress and environmental protection depend on eachother. Mister Desai says the action plan developed ten years ago atthe Earth Summit in Brazil is based on that idea. He says the worldconference in Johannesburg is a chance for governments, businessesand citizens to expand on that plan.
This VOA Special English program In The News was written by CatyWeaver. This is Steve Ember.