As the World summit on sustainable development approaches its conclusion, the European Commission and the South African authorities are holding a conference on the role of science and technology in obtaining sustainable development on 2 and 3 September. The event is aimed at demonstrating the power of research as an instrument for fostering capacity in developing countries and strengthening partnerships with European countries. The ministerial session on 3 September will result in recommendations on how to enhance the role of science and technology for sustainable development. 'Research has to play a crucial role in the understanding and resolution of problems related to sustainable development,' said EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, commenting on the event. 'It is the role of research to alert politicians to problems and issues before they are on the political agenda and to offer solutions on the basis of sound science; climate change is just one example where networking among scientists has prepared the ground for policy makers in this sense.' The event should also be seen as part of the EU's strategy to help developing countries meet the goal of sustainable development and to assist with their move towards a knowledge-based society. At the summit, draft agreements have already been outlined on combating AIDS, dwindling fish stocks and other issues, as part of the principal goal of reducing poverty by 2015. One outstanding issue is a timetable for increasing the use of renewable energies.