BANFF, Alberta - Environment ministers of the world's industrial powers headed to this picturesque mountain town Friday for talks on how to make environmental concerns more significant in global development policies.
The annual meeting of environmental officials of the Group of Eight most industrialized nations — the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia, along with the European Union (news - web sites) — is a prelude to the G-8 summit in June in nearby Kananaskis, Alberta, as well as the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa in August.
Talks that begin Saturday morning and continue Sunday are considered unlikely to resolve major issues such as the dispute between Europe and the United States over the Kyoto Protocol (news - web sites) that sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The protocol is not on the formal agenda, though Canadian officials say it will be discussed.
Background documents for the talks indicate they will focus on how to make environmental concerns more important in G-8 leaders' decisions on sustainable development at their June summit and then the U.N. gathering in Africa.
An African development plan proposed for the G-8 summit calls for helping those countries that create conditions for development and private investment, such as democratic systems, independent judiciaries and free market economies.
The idea is for poor nations in Africa, and elsewhere, to attract private investment to spur development instead of depending solely on handouts from wealthy nations.
Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson said the concern is that developing nations tend to ignore environmental concerns.
"Countries facing famine look to development as vital and some of them regard the environmental concerns as `That's what we do later once we reach a point where everyone has enough to eat,'" Anderson said.
"That's a perfectly logical position to hold," he said, "but the dilemma is that if you don't consider environment at the beginning, you may in fact exacerbate your problems in the medium or long term."
World leaders should emphasize the importance of the environment "as the foundation for economic growth and poverty alleviation" and work toward integrating environmental, social and economic policies within a global sustainable development agenda, says a background paper titled "Perspectives on Environmental Governance."
It also says the G-8 must demonstrate commitment to implementing international agreements, which amounts to a dig at the U.S. government's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol that is supported by the EU and most other nations.
In opting out of the accord, U.S. President George W. Bush (news - web sites) said the agreement would be too costly for the American economy.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. NoNonsense English offers this material non-commercially for research and educational purposes. I believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner, i.e. the media service or newspaper which first published the article online and which is indicated at the top of the article unless otherwise specified.