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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2002 / 0904a

0904a

friends of the earth europe: wednesday 4th september

earth summit wrap up

Governments miss historic opportunity

Johannesburg: Wednesday 4th September. After nine days of talks in Johannesburg, the Earth Summit is finally winding to an end. The EU's goal to reach an action oriented outcome with clear targets and timetables could not be reached due to resistance from the US, Japan, Canada, Australia and the OPEC countries.

An analysis of the final text of the Programme of Implementation includes precisely TWO new and specific targets:
1. To halve by 2015 the proportion of people who do not have access to basic sanitation and
2. Elimination of destructive fishing practices and establishment of marine protected areas by 2012.

On energy, no target for increasing renewable energy use and a programme of action could be agreed supporting the provision of energy services to the 2 billion people currently without access to these services (1). Instead the promotion of “clean” fossil fuels, a betrayal of the Kyoto Protocol to combat climate change was agreed (although the announcement of ratification by both Canada and Russia this week is a welcome step). FoEE welcomes that the EU now aims to achieve an initiative of like minded groups on renewable energy.

Other targets on access to drinking water, biodiversity, chemicals and official development assistance are simply reaffirmed, watered down, or trashed altogether (2).

FoEE assessed the role of the EU at the Earth Summit talks as mixed. While it has fought hard but unsuccessfully for key targets and a 10 year sustainable consumption and production programme (3), the EU has disappointed many civil society groups on the issues of globalisation, trade and corporate accountability.

On the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its rule, many references have been included in the Programme of Implementation following pressure from the EU, US, Canada, Australia and Japan. Even victories such as preventing an unprecedented statement that would have made all commitments to environment and development subservient to WTO rules was not fully supported by the EU. The EU also is partly responsible that the relationship between multilateral environmental agreements and world trade rules will still be left to the WTO to decide.

One important success was achieved by Friends of the Earth – the inclusion of clear language on the need to establish corporate accountability. However, the US, the European Commission and EU Danish Presidency are still attempting to undermine these words through squalid manoeuvres around a “Letter of Interpretation” from Ambassador Ashe. FoE now calls for a UN conference on corporate accountability by the end of 2003. This conference should be included in the Political Declaration. FoEE expects the EU to take a lead. A draft text produced by the South African Government would place the issue before the UN General Assembly.

Alexandra Wandel, Friends of the Earth Europe commented:
“Friends of the Earth International has strongly supported the Earth Summit. We desperately need binding international agreements! However governments have missed a historic opportunity in Johannesburg by failing to set the necessary social and ecological limits to economic globalisation. The summit has been hijacked by free trade talks, by a backward-looking, insular and ignorant US administration and its friends in Japan, Canada, Australia and OPEC, by a confused European Union, and by the global corporations. This is a betrayal of the millions of people around the world who looked to this Summit for real action, and particularly of poor people and vulnerable communities in the South. We desperately need binding international agreements to fight environmental threats to our common home. We will continue our campaign for trade justice, rights for communities and rules for big business. FoE will now be taking our campaign “Don’t let big business rule the world” to the Cancun WTO Ministerial Conference in September 2003''.

Dr. Martin Rocholl, Director Friends of the Earth Europe, commented:
“Our evaluation of the role of the EU in Johannesburg is mixed. Having been an important progressive force in several areas, we would have expected more pressure from the EU and are disappointed on issues of globalisation, trade and corporate accountability. With politicians returning home, we should remind ourselves that the EU’s own policies are far from being sustainable: transport, agriculture, trade and energy policies in the EU are in urgent need of reform!”


foee contacts:

In Brussels: Dr. Martin Rocholl, Tel: 02-542 01 80 or -5420183
In Johannesburg: Alexandra Wandel, tel: +27-72 406 47 49

foei contacts:
Ricardo Navarro (FoEI Chair, El Salvador): +27 72 401 5392
Tony Juniper (FoEI Vice-Chair, UK): +27 72 401 5393
Daniel Mittler (FoEI Summit Co-ordinator, Germany): +27 72 401
5394
Carol Welch (US): +27 82 858 6073
Yuri Onodera (Japan): +27 72 401 5391
Ian Willmore (Media): +27 72 401 5386


Notes:

Pictures from FOEI's art installation with 6000 mute witnesses and a 6 metre corporate giant available at:
http://www.rio-plus-10.org

1) See FoEE press release ‘Earth Summit dumps on climate’,
http://www.rio-plus-10.org/en/press/120.php

2) On water, the Millennium Development Gola of halving the amount of people without access to sfae clean drinking water by the year 2015 was reconfirmed. On chemicals, governments agreed only to “aiming to achieve by 2020 that chemicals are produced in ways that lead to the minimisation of significant adverse effects on human health” On biodiversity “a significant reduction in the current rate of loss of biological diversity” was agreed, a clear step backwards from the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. On Official Development Assistance governments simply urge developing countries to make concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7% of GNP as official development assistance”.

(3) The programme was reduced in favour of a weaker ‘framework of programmes’ of sustainable production and consumption at national level.

 

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