Elliott Negin or Jacob Scherr, 202-289-6868
18 Other Countries Say their Leaders are "Likely" to Go
WASHINGTON, DC (July 30, 2002) -- Ninety national leaders have been confirmed as planning to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg from August 26 to September 4, according to a survey released today by NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council). An additional 18 countries said that their head of state or government would "likely" participate in this follow-up meeting to the June 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. (See attached list.) However, the leaders of a number of key countries, including the United States, India and Australia, have not yet made a commitment to attend.
"A decade ago an unprecedented number of world leaders -- 110 -- came to the Rio summit to pledge themselves to the principal of sustainable development," said Jacob Scherr, director of the NRDC International Program. "It is extraordinarily encouraging that nearly the same number of top leaders are now committed or likely to attend the Johannesburg Summit. It is critical for long-term global security that our leaders come together to address the immense environmental, economic and social challenges we face."
NRDC has been tracking which national leaders plan to attend the Johannesburg summit since last March. Barrettt Freylinghuysen and Chassie Post of NRDC's World Summit Watch have been in contact with more than 180 missions at the United Nations in New York.
Earlier this year, 41 U.S. environmental leaders wrote President Bush to urge him to go to the Johannesburg summit to reassert U.S. leadership on global environmental issues, but he has not yet announced his plans. "Perhaps he is following in his father's footsteps," said Scherr. "The first President Bush did not make up his mind to attend the Rio Summit until just a few weeks before it convened. We hope that his son recognizes the importance of going to Johannesburg."
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a U.S. non-profit organization of lawyers, scientists and environmental specialists engaged in advocacy to protect the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members. Over the last decade, NRDC has published a number of surveys regarding the implementation of Agenda 21 and the other Earth Summit commitments.