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The objective of Agenda 21, the strategy document adopted at the 1992 Rio Summit, was to maximise economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

But Will Alexander of the University of Pretoria, South Africa argues that this is a utopian view, and that there should be no environmental impediments to the maximisation of economic and social welfare.

He calls for multidisciplinary approaches to problems, and warns against the imposition of northern hemisphere solutions to Africa problems. This is critical, he says, in the light of the forthcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development.

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