Amsterdam, 31 August, 2002 – Thousands joined in today’s demonstration “Limits to Trade” on the Dam Square in Amsterdam. Over one thousand planks painted with personal messages to the UN Summit were nailed on to the JohannesBridge. The JohannesBridge is a symbol of Dutch people’s concern about the issues on the agenda in Johannesburg.

The Bridge calls on the ministers and world leaders  gathered there to stop choosing trade above people and the environment. The demonstration was organised by Friends of the Earth Netherlands together with fifty other NGOs.

At 3:45 pm this afternoon, special envoy to Kofi Anan for the Earth Summit and former environmental minister in the Netherlands, Pronk and the present environmental minister Van Geel were asked some difficult questions. They spoke to the people gathered in Amsterdam live via a huge video screen. Pronk and Van Geel are still hopeful that the Summit will achieve good results.

At present the NGOs are not happy with how the Earth Summit is developing. The negotiating text now on the table is a time bomb under sustainable development. The text says that environmental treaties will be subordinate to trade treaties. It would seem that the Earth Summit is rapidly turning into a new found of WTO negotiations. The current text contains more than 200 references to the World Trade Organisation, WTO.

Yesterday, NGOs including Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Greenpeace, WWF and Consumers International left the negotiations on trade and sustainability. They have said they will not return until the issue of sustainability i s taken seriously.

Art Installation in Johannesburg on September 1st Tomorrow, Friends of the Earth Netherlands will join its sister organisations from around the world in building a huge art installation with the theme “Hear Our Voice”. Artists from Soweto have made 5,500 paper-maché people sculptures that will be confronted by ahuge corporate giant that symbolises the power corporations have over the people. The sculptures will be surrounded by the sound of radio messages, which were collected from all over the world.

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For more about the JohannesBridge and the Earth Summit see