June 3, 2002 – After a week of negotiations at the Preparatory Meeting for the World Summit for Sustainable Development, taking place in Bali, Indonesia, it has become clear that the free trade agenda is being promoted by governments, at the expense of sustainable development.

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is calling on the world’s ministers arriving in Bali today, to reverse this process, and ensure that the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) trade agenda does not continue to undermine poverty alleviation and the conservation of the environment.

“We have seen a week of debate in which civil society’s concerns regarding the impacts of trade liberalisation have been ignored. Ministers must act now and use the Johannesburg Summit to establish clear social and environmental limits to economic globalisation” said Ricardo Navarro, Chair of Friends of the Earth International.

FoEI is proposing specific changes to the text of the Chairman’s paper that would ensure that the Chairman’s text no longer pretends that sustainable development can simply be delivered through trade liberalisation under the WTO.

FoEI among more than 150 organisations from more than 40 countries (1) calls on governments to affirm the authority and autonomy of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and clarify that the objectives, principles and provisions of MEAs must not be subordinated to WTO rules.

“FoEI welcomes ministers to Bali but urges them to ensure that Heads of States at Johannesburg establish the primacy of sustainable development over the trade regime and ensure that international economic institutions ike the World Bank, IMF and WTO support this objective ” Ricardo Navarro said.

(1) The full statement on the WTO-MEA relationship can be found online.

Contact FoEI Bali media team: 0818 560 730 or +44 7810558249