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The Final day of the Earth Summit


On its final day, the "Earth Summit" Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, has come under a storm of criticism that the three-day summit is falling far short of its promise to establish clear goals for sustainable development. At Friday's close, the 190-nation summit is due to endorse a lengthy statement vowing to tackle Earth's environmental problems and entrenched poverty. This document has been the focus of close scrutiny amid accusations of being too watered down before it had even reached the summit. Mary Robinson, the former Irish president and ex-UN high commissioner for human rights, described it as "a failure of leadership" while former Norwegian premier Gro Harlem Brundtland said its "omission of reproductive rights is a step backwards."

On the Earth Summit’s final day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon defended the first summit on sustainable development in a decade as "the beginning of a journey." “The event "will lead to a more sustainable future for ourselves and for generations to come," he said.

Some NGOs presented specific initiatives, Greenpeace announced that artists such as Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz and Robert Redford have joined a campaign for a "global sanctuary" around the North Pole. The celebrities are among the first 100 names on a planned million-signature scroll that Greenpeace wants to place on the seabed beneath Earth's northernmost point. The goal is to counter nationalist claims on the North Pole and preserve the heart of the Arctic Ocean from a carve-up for resources. The shrinkage of Arctic ice through global warming has led to jostling over sea routes and access to the sea bed, believed to be rich in hydrocarbons and minerals.