The United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) opened on 26 August 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa, with ceremonial grandeur and a theatrical extravaganza. It began with a ‘one-and-a-half hour show depicting the birth of the planet and set on a multi-tiered stage in the shape of the continent’ (News 24, 2002d). Thabo Mbeki, South African and Summit President, welcomed his guests to Johannesburg, declaring grandly that
In the last thirty years the torch of sustainable development has travelled from Europe to the Americas, and through Asia and it now burns in Africa. After a protracted journey, it now arrives in a continent that is the cradle of humanity. The fact that we have convened at this cradle of humanity emphasizes the obligation we all face to respond with all seriousness and urgency and to adopt a meaningful Johannesburg plan of implementation, in the interests of all humanity and our common planet.