The World Summit on Sustainable Development currently under way in Johannesburg must move beyond rhetoric and commit to action if the global environment is to improve, according to a Foreign Ministry official knowledgeable about Africa.

"It will be a success if action-oriented decisions are taken, a failure if it ends simply with beautiful phrases," said Kaoru Ishikawa, deputy director general of the ministry's Multilateral Cooperation Department.

Ten years after the Rio Earth Summit, formally known as the U.N. Conference on the Environment and Development, countries are still grappling with how to preserve the environment and eradicate poverty.