South Africa Looks for Help to Fund Multi-Million Dollar Earth Summit

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, May 30, 2001 (ENS) - The United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development scheduled to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa next September will cost more than 400 million rand, the equivalent of US$ 50 million, a joint meeting of Parliament's two environmental affairs committees heard on Tuesday.

Chairman of the summit's organizing company, Moses "Moss" Mashishi, told the lawmakers that the South African government has committed R35 million (US$4.4 million) to the event, and the Johannesburg Metro has offered R15-million "mostly in kind."

Mashishi is the CEO of the Johannesburg Earth Summit 2002, also called Rio+10.


Sandton, a town on the northern outskirts of Johannesburg, where the conference will be held. (Photo courtesy Province of Gauteng)
A 10 year follow-up to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the Johannesburg Summit is expected to attract thousands of international delegates to South Africa.

Mashishi told the parliamentary committees that 110 heads of state, 30,000 delegates from non-governmental organization are expected - about 65,000 delegates in total.

Mashishi said hosting the event could create important spin-offs for South Africa in areas such as tourism.

Mashishi's organization, a nonprofit company, is now preparing a budget for the summit.

Mashishi emphasized that the summit is not being hosted by the government, but by the people of South Africa. Other nations, private donors and business corporations are being asked to help cover the costs.


South African Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Mohammed Valli Moosa (Photo courtesy Office of the Minister)
Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Valli Moosa was asked at a media briefing if, with only 15 months to go, there are concerns about raising the millions of rand needed to pay for the summit. Moosa told reporters the government has approached other countries for help.

"We have been interacting with countries around the world, who have indicated a willingness to assist with the costs of the running of the summit itself," the South African Press Association reported.

"We can't tell you we've got money in the bank, but we're reasonably confident that we would be able to raise almost all of the money. I can't tell you at this stage when the money would be in the bank. It is something that is occupying our minds quite a lot," Moosa said.

Nitin Desai, United Nations under-secretary-general for economic and social Affairs said that the Rio+10 event comes at "a crucial point, when we need to generate new momentum towards socially and environmentally sustainable development, to ensure a viable future for our planet."

Desai, who served as deputy secretary-general of the Rio Earth Summit, was one of the architects of Agenda 21, the comprehensive action plan that was agreed at Rio and that provides the framework for United Nations work on sustainable development.

The summit is expected to produce a renewed international compact on sustainable development.