The World Summit on Sustainable Development was held recently in Johannesburg, South Africa. The forum took a broad-based approach to sustainable development – specifically, integrating economic, social and environmental considerations.

In a prepared statement, the World Bank called for a new era of enlightened public policy and a new era of responsible wealth creation: one that accelerates economic growth, especially in developing countries, but does so in a socially responsible manner.

In part, the statement read:

“Over the next 50 years we will likely see the world economy rise from around US$35 trillion today to around US$140 trillion. We will add over a US$100 trillion but we must face some hard truths:

* If we retain the current distribution of income in which 80 percent of the world’s population earns only 20 percent of the world’s income **we will not have sustainable development.**

* If we maintain the current consumption and production patterns between the rich and the poor **we will not have sustainable development.**

* If the rich world hides behind harmful subsidies and unfair practices **we will not have sustainable development.**

* If private companies disregard reasonable norms of corporate behavior **we will not have sustainable development.**

Sustainable development is more than economics, more than development, and more than environment. It is a crusade based on the moral imperative of saving our planet and making it safe, secure, and prosperous for all. It is based on economic justice, social justice, and ecological justice. The time for action is now.”

The Bahamas was represented at the Summit by the Hon. Fred Mitchell, M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs. According to Minister Mitchell, the Bahamas delegation left South Africa pleased that it had played its essential part, and that most of the political Heads of Delegation recognised the lessons learnt from experience and understood that it was critical to apply those lessons for sustainable development.

He said, *”My visit to South Africa was a productive and fruitful one for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. We bring back a Declaration and Plan of Action containing principles to which we are committed so as to protect the way we live, and to further develop our country without damaging our environment, to protect our water supply, our fisheries resources and our plant life. The Bahamas is a leader in sustainable tourism, and the Declaration incorporates a commitment to further ingrain this concept in the way we do business.”*

The United Nations General Assembly meets in mid-November to endorse the results of the Summit and set a schedule for the newly recharged Commission on Sustainable Development. JoAnne DiSano, Director of the UN’s Division for Sustainable Development, said *”The Summit gave us a clear mandate for what we have to do, and there is not one part of the UN that will not be affected by Johannesburg.”*