The world's leaders, UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa for the Earth Summit on Sustainable Development from the 26th of August to 4 September 2002.
A delegation from Islamic Relief joined the international NGOs taking part in the UN-organised summit. Over 20,000 people were expected to attend the nine-day event.
Before leaving for Johannesburg, Dr Hany El Banna, President of IR spoke about the importance of IR's presence at the summit. "The most important thing is to communicate with other officials and NGOs, and to air IR's strongly held views on sustainable development, particularly on the issue of partnership," explained Dr Hany.
In order to achieve sustainable development in the future, Dr Hany believes it is important to establish a strong partnership between the poor South and the affluent North. "A partner should take the same risk as his partner, it should not be a one-way system," he said.
The Summit aimed to secure commitments from world leaders to achieve sustainable development - an economic development which brings real benefits to poor people while reversing trends of environmental damage.
The spotlight was on methods to tackle poverty, one of the key causes of environmental destruction, and focused on five major areas including water, sanitation, health and agricultural productivity.
The Johannesburg Summit marked the tenth anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil, which first put environmental issues on the global political agenda.
Islamic Relief has a long history of working in partnership with the poor. The organisation has successfully developed local community organisations, run by the poor, used by the poor, and benefiting the poor.
Corporate accountability, international trade and the future of energy generation are some of the subjects NGOs and environmental organisations at the summit were keen to address.
The presence of international NGOs at the conference helped ensure that the interests of disadvantaged people worldwide were kept at the forefront of any future plans.