New York / Amsterdam, November 13, 2002 – As the United Nations (UN) meets for the first time today to pick up the pieces after the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), Friends of the Earth International accused governments of betraying people and the planet in Johannesburg (1). The UN General Assembly will today adopt the Johannesburg “Plan of Action” (2). Friends of the Earth International called on governments to abandon the neoliberal trade agenda which dominated negotiations in Johannesburg and instead to develop and implement global rules for big business as promised (3). Friends of the Earth International is calling for a commitment to deliver on this promise.

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) accused governments of misleading the public as they portray the results of the World Summit as a positive step forward. In practice, Johannesburg was a massive missed opportunity. Industrialised nations failed to acknowledge their massive ecological debt to the developing world. The Summit failed to set the necessary social and ecological limits to economic globalisation. The energy agreement was a scandalous betrayal of all those affected by climate change, which sets no target for the expansion of renewable energy, but instead endorses the further development of fossil fuels, dangerous nuclear power and socially disastrous big hydro dam projects.

Instead of using the World Summit to respond to global concerns over deregulation and liberalisation, governments sought to rebrand the WTO´s free trade agenda as sustainable development. FoEI will continue to show that corporate-led globalisation is a major cause of unsustainability, rather than the solution (4).

FoEI´s campaign “Don´t let big business rule the world” will continue until and beyond the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Mexico in September 2003 (5). It demands a review of the impacts of the current global trade regime to deliver trade justice and the development of a global mechanism to deliver rights to communities and rules for big business.

Daniel Mittler, Earth Summit Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International said: “The Plan adopted today is a scandalous Plan of Inaction. Bush and his cronies turned the Earth Summit into a Trade Fair. But they did have to concede on one point. The Johannesburg declaration provides an opportunity to deliver rights for communities to hold big business to account. Governments must act now to halt bad business practices.”


Daniel Mittler, FoEI Earth Summit Coordinator, +49 30 2758 6468 (Germany)
Niccolo Sarno, FoEI Media Coordinator, +31 20 622 1369 (The Netherlands)


1) The World Summit on Sustainable Development took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from August 26th to September 4th 2002.
2) The UN General Assembly is set to approve the Johannesburg results in New York on Nov. 13th
3) Paragraph 45 of the Plan of Action contains one of the very few new commitments made at Johannesburg – the development of rules and processes to enhance corporate accountability. An assessment of the Johannesburg outcomes in this area, “Big Business Rules?” is available at
4) For some examples of corporate abuses see “Clashes with corporate giants” at
5) FoEI´s “Don´t let big business rule the world campaign” was launched in Bali on June 1st 2002. FoEI is calling on governments to deliver binding corporate accountability (including liability) through the UN by 2005. FoEI collected thousands of messages for the Earth Summit and delivered them through a major art installation to the Summit.