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Rio+20 talks for new environment pact heading into overtime

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Talks on a new global charter to protect the environment and eradicate poverty were heading into overtime Friday as officials admitted they faced a battle to seal a deal ahead of a U.N. summit.

The cornerstone document of the June 20-22 Rio+20 summit aims at setting a path for nurturing the planet's natural bounty and promoting green growth.

But after five months of wrangling, talks on a draft entered their final scheduled day on Friday with agreement on only 28 percent of the 81-page text, officials said.

Responsibility for steering the haggle was expected to be handed on Saturday to Brazil, the conference host, said Nikhil Seth of the U.N.'s Division for Sustainable Development.

“It's everyone's hope that by (June) 19 at the latest, everything will be wrapped up,” he said.

“There is a sense of optimism, but in every room there is a sense also that the enemy now is time.”

Brazilian delegation chief Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, confirming the target date, said “we have no intention to hand undecided issues to heads of state.”

Ahead of next week's U.N. summit, hundreds of corporate leaders launched a four-day forum here Friday to discuss how the private sector could help advance sustainable development goals.

In opening remarks, Georg Kell, executive director of the U.N. Global Compact, underscored the key role of “innovation and collaboration” in the process.

The Global Compact, a U.N. initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, has 7,000 corporate participants in 135 countries.

Forum organizers said private-public partnerships and more than 100 corporate commitments would be announced and recommendations would be submitted to Rio+20 summit leaders next week.

The Conference on Sustainable Development is the 20-year followup to the Earth Summit, when U.N. members made historic agreements to combat climate change, wildlife loss and desertification.

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In this picture released by Amazon Watch, indigenous people, small farmers, fisher folk and local residents occupy the Belo Monte Dam project to gather in formation to spell out words that read in Portuguese: “Stop Belo Monte,” at the Xingu river, in the Brazilian state of Para, Friday, June 15. (AP)

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