A unique United Nations conference with no enforcement powers has highlighted an array of threats to the world's environment and economic growth.

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar and leaders of almost all the U.N.'s specialized agencies agreed at a weekend meeting in Oslo to set up a top level "task force" to lead the fight against economic decay and pollution.But delegates at the conference, the first of its kind outside the U.N.'s New York headquarters, conceded that calls for global action on poverty, waste dumping, depletion of natural resources and climatic change were not enough on their own.

"We cannot achieve our aims without the active support and commitment of all governments and international organizations," said Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who hosted the conference.

One delegate, who asked not to be named, commented: "No one in their right mind would disagree with the aim of using the world's resources properly.

"But everything we have said will just amount to noble words on scraps of paper if governments continue to ignore the problems and simply pursue their own local interests."

World Bank President Barber Conable, who attended the meeting with International Monetary Fund (IMF) chairman Michel Camdessus, voiced scepticism over government commitments.

"The problem for many countries is to free resources for implementing any kind of program," Conable told Reuters during the meeting. "That will be the major stumbling block."

The two-day meeting was the first review of progress made since Brundtland's commission produced its report entitled "Our Common Future."