Bali, June 7, 2002 – Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) today blew the whistle on the outcome of the Earth Summit talks in Bali calling it a defeat for the world’s poor and a foul result for the global environment. FoEI has charged governments with failing to listen to the public and ruthlessly pursuing the interests of multinational corporations and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The Bali talks were meant to establish a final action plan on sustainable development, to be signed off by Heads of State and Government at the forthcoming Johannesburg Earth Summit in August. However as negotiations drew to a close, governments were finalising details on a ‘Bali Commitments’ agreement that failed to adequately address key concerns.

FoEI singled out the United States for criticism for attempting to force through its free trade agenda and doing everything in its power to prevent agreement on legally binding commitments. Instead it successfully pressed for voluntary ‘partnerships’. Australia, Japan and Canada were backers of US blocking tactics. Norway, on the other side, insisted on binding measures.

The talks were also marked by the suppression of public protests by the Indonesian authorities. Thousands of protesters, and even a local fisher’s flotilla, were intimidated by security forces and forced to abandon their demonstrations. Indonesian groups are set to sue the authorities for infringing their constitutional rights.

For the Earth Summit to be rescued, governments in the North must urgently change their trade policy. The EU in particular expected developing countries to support a global move towards green goals such as expanding renewable energy, but were not able to address all their concerns about the unfair and inequitable trading system. Only if the free trade agenda is dropped by the North, can the Earth Summit still deliver any positive outcomes. Measures to control big business were crippled in the talks by the US and EU and key issues such as the ecological debt owed by the North to the South were not even acknowledged.

Daniel Mittler, Earth Summit Coordinator comments: “The US and its friends might as well come from Mars for all they care about the future of our Planet. The fight for a better agreement will be taken to Johannesburg. Voluntary partnerships will not deliver sustainable development. Indecision, intransigence and lack of ambition must be replaced by vision and leadership.”

In Bali: call 08179711394 (from within Indonesia) or Ed Matthew on +44 7810 558 249 or call Daniel Mittler, Campaign Coordinator, +49 173 923 4747