Nuclear Energy Agency Online Bulletin

September 2002

Nuclear development news

World Summit on Sustainable Development

The concept of "sustainable development" is very broad. For the "Earth Summit" held ten years after the meeting in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the UN Secretary-General had put forward five focal points: water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.

The breadth of interests represented at the Johannesburg meeting was also large, spanning world leaders responsible for international policy to those promoting solar cooking pots. Summit activities included intergovernmental negotiations, "open" plenary sessions, side meetings, exhibitions and informal discussions and debates. The NEA joined forces with the OECD team on site to:

Nuclear energy and climate change were not key issues for this summit, the latter having been referred to the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [COP 8] to be held in New Delhi, India on 23 October - 1 November 2002. Discussion of energy issues focused on commitments to the introduction of "new" renewable energy generation (i.e. not hydropower). These commitments were not, however, quantified in the final declaration.

During the discussions it appeared that the understanding of new renewable energy sources, particularly wind power, was very limited in relation to that of nuclear energy. No in-depth appreciation was demonstrated of the economics, technical challenges and timing of energy production in relation to market demand using renewable energy sources.

The conclusions of the summit negotiations are contained in the Plan of Implementation. Paragraph 19 concerns energy and puts forth 23 recommended actions. Emphasis is placed on the increased use of renewable energy sources, improved energy efficiency and greater reliance on advanced energy technologies.

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