‘Dear Delegates’

Welcome to South Africa, the land of my birth, my education and my future. It is a living paradise, a multi-ethnic melting pot of vastly differing cultures and colours. It has it all: sunny skies, glorious beaches, scenic hills and valleys, breathtaking rivers and streams, and the savage splendour of our game reserves.

But it also has thousands of children dying from AIDS. We have inherited a legacy of heart-breaking poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, disease, violence, corruption and crime – which can all be traced to our basest instinct, greed. The mammoth challenge of eradicating these problems worldwide is definitely within our intellectual, technical and economic capacity to overcome. It is not just desirable, but attainable!

We have the natural and human resources to do it. But humans seem to have lost sight of all goals except the accumulation of wealth.

Yes – we need strong economies generating wealth, but let it be wealth to serve the needs of the homeless, the hungry, the sick and those that are excluded and deprived. Let it not be to serve the greed of a few for new cars and larger mansions.

Please be influenced not by the many pressures from voters, interest groups, your own background and ideology – but by the needs of the people and the environment. Please challenge each other to find solutions to the many problems that we are facing.

The way in which you handle this task will determine whether or not my children will be able to enjoy this living paradise – and whether the young and future generations around the world will also have a sustainable future.

And, of course, finding solutions is only the beginning. When you go home, will you do what you say you intend to do? Will you implement those solutions, and carry out your promises? My own and future generations are depending on you answering ‘yes’ to these questions. Hope is being generated throughout the world that you will do as you have promised, that you will make the right decisions, the brave decisions, the decisions that future generations will look back on and say: ‘Thank you for thinking of us back then.’

Show us that we do not have leaders who do things for the money, for fame, or to satisfy some greedy cravings. Prove to us that we have leaders with good intentions, who want a positive change and who are prepared to give their all to attain it. Show us that our leaders truly care about our future and treasure this fabulous gift that God has blessed us with. Please do everything in your power to ensure that we can remove the restrictions which prevent us from having viable, vibrant and s ustainable economies which will enable us to solve our problems.

Let not succeeding generations accuse us of not preserving and safeguarding this unique and amazing gift. Let us use this Summit to celebrate how far we have come. Let us stand united, hand in hand, heart to heart, so that everyone may enjoy this amazing land – and this phenomenal planet.


Bushra Razack

Bushra Razack , 16, of Ladysmith, South Africa, is one of the young editors of Peace Child International’s Rescue Mission 2002, which celebrates progress towards sustainable development since the Rio Earth Summit, and is published at WSSD.

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Agenda of hope | Changing the paradigm | Only one Earth | Beyond brackets | African renaissance | Unmissable opportunity | At a glance: GEO-3 | Asking the people | Recapturing momentum | Taking the measure of unsustainability | Breaking the grid lock | Training for transformation | Bring big business to account | Out of the changing room | ‘Dear delegates...’ | We need a dream | Two sides of the same coin: before and after Johannesburg| Quality environmental data for all

Complementary articles in other issues:
Pachamama: Our Earth, Our Future (Beyond 2000) 2000
Young, impatient and soon to be in charge (The Environment Millennium) 2000
Patty Stonesifer: Stopping AIDS (Poverty, Health and the Environment) 2001

AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment:
About the AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment