Published: Monday 15 June 1998

The world's leading environmental thinkers drawn from government, business and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have created a blueprint for future joint action to foster global environmental improvement. Recently, about 60 environment ministers, United Nations officials, senior business executives and NGO leaders met at the UN headquarters to discuss critical environmental protection issues. According to Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the meeting provided a platform for all groups to jointly participate in a process of genuine improvement. "The Cleaner Production Declaration that UNEP will launch at a meeting in Seoul in September, is just one example of how the UN and business can cooperate to guarantee development that is sound from economic, environmental and social perspectives," Teopfer said.

After the rehabilitation of west African land freed from Onchocerciasis, it is expected to provide food and improved living conditions for nearly 17 million people, says the UN food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Onchocerciasis, commonly known as 'River Blindness', is caused by parasitic worms transmitted to humans when flies bite them. Blindness often results when the larvae reach the eyes. River Blindness has virtually been eliminated as a public health problem and people are returning to the land in great numbers, "Where once the enemy was the black fly, it is deforestation of these areas has been so rapid that measures are needed to conserve the already fragile ecosystems of the river valley."

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