Rio Organizer Says Summit Fell Short

By Michael Weisskopf and Julia Preston
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 15, 1992

RIO DE JANEIRO, JUNE 14 -- RIO DE JANEIRO, JUNE 14 -- The largest high-level meeting of governments gave final approval today to new principles of environmental stewardship but failed to pledge the financial resources and tough controls widely deemed necessary to curb the excesses of man.

Amid self-congratulatory speeches by Earth Summit delegates, Maurice Strong, organizer of the 12-day United Nations conference, criticized the outcome as "agreement without sufficient commitment."

"When we thought we did it in Stockholm, we didn't," said Strong, a Canadian, choking back tears as he recalled the 1972 conference on the environment in Sweden. "And we don't have another 20 years now. I believe we are on the road to tragedy. As we leave Rio, we have not satisfied that concern. We have the basis for progress, but we have to push ahead."

"The current level of commitment is not comparable to the size and gravity of the problems," U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali told delegates as he bade farewell to the plenary session.

The conference, a raucous gathering of 178 nations that split North from South -- and the United States from nearly everyone -- resulted in an unprecedented number of environmental agreements.

Treaties were signed to control global warming and the loss of rare plant and wildlife species. Nonbinding agreements were reached on a statement of forest conservation principles, the Rio Declaration of environmental ideals and Agenda 21, a blueprint for combatting toxic waste, ocean pollution and energy inefficiency.

CONTINUED     1              >

© 1992 The Washington Post Company