Catholic aid agency CAFOD has warned world leaders that they are in danger of losing their way in the fight against poverty unless they can come up with a workable road map at the forthcoming Earth Summit in Johannesburg. In a statement today the organisation expressed fears that not only are the world's richest nations opposed to new initiatives on the eradication of poverty, but that old commitments to tackle its root causes were are now also under threat. Urging world leaders to use the World Summit on Sustainable Development as an opportunity to revive plans for action on poverty reduction, CAFOD's Head of External Relations, Cathy Corcoran reminded those same leaders of goals previously set by them to halve poverty by 2015. "It is clear that there is no appetite among donor countries, least of all the United States, for new far-reaching commitments in Johannesburg", she added. "It will not be a repeat of the inspiring Rio Environment and Development Conference in 1992 with its blueprint for thinking globally by acting locally. "The favourable climate for global action that was apparent after 11 September has evaporated and that not only will significant new commitments be blocked but that existing commitments are under attack. This would be tragic for the millions of people around the world who live in poverty and a gross violation of duty on the part of powerful countries". CAFOD partner Neville Gabriel of South Africa's Justice and Peace Commission agreed. He is attending the summit in Johannesburg and warned delegates that, "millions of poor people around the globe are depending on the Earth Summit to deliver on poverty reduction. We need to leave Johannesburg with a clear action plan to deliver the Millennium Goals, not a rehash of past commitments." CAFOD has urged those attending the Summit to ensure that agreements, such as the UN Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Treaty), are respected and implemented; to ensure that the commitments to increase aid made at the UN Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey in March 2002 are met and that they deliver real benefits to the poor in poor countries; and implementation of reductions in export subsidies and trade-distorting domestic support promised at the World Trade Organisation Summit in Doha in 2001. As well as a further call to cancel the debt of the world's poorest countries, the aid agency also called for regulation of business worldwide to ensure transparency in business dealings in developing countries and guarantees that profits reach the poor.
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