New York, January 28, 2002 – The lurch of governments towards more of the policies that threaten the future of the Planet must be challenged at this year’s Johannesburg Earth Summit now just over 200 days away.

As governments meet formally in New York to review progress on sustainable development since the Rio Summit in 1992, they are at the same time starting work on the trade deal cobbled together at the recent WTO meeting in Doha (1). Senior politicians and business leaders are also meeting behind closed doors at the World Economic Forum just a few blocks away from the United Nations later this week.

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) called on governments to honestly address the reasons for unsustainable development predominating since Rio, which include pushing ahead with unjust trade policies and economic globalisation.

FoEI is calling for four key measures to be tackled at Johannesburg in August:

  • Reign in the power of corporations by establishing binding rules of corporate accountability and liability.
  • Acknowledge and act on the industrialized countries’ ecological debt to the South.
  • Establishment of the principle that International environmental agreements override trade rules and devise a treaty on food and farming outside the WTO.
  • Give the environment a stronger voice in world politics by strengthening the institutions that are meant to secure sustainable development.

Daniel Mittler co-ordinator of FoEI’s work on the Summit said: “It is ironic that while governments are talking up their responsibilities on sustainable development, they are pushing forward with the policies that are causing the problems. The WEF and WTO are promoting an agenda that will further inequality and environmental degradation. In the 200 days that remain before the Earth Summit governments must grasp the opportunity to take action that this time delivers sustainability.”

Daniel Mittler, BUND +49 173 923 4747
Matt Phillips +1 917 567 3250

(1) The World Summit on Sustainable Development (the Johannesburg Earth Summit) will take place in August. The present meeting is the formal assessment of progress on sustainable development since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It is also the forum where governments will start to agree the outcomes of the Summit – possibly to be billed as the ‘Global Deal’. The WTO is today launching the detailed process for taking forward the agreement on trade reached at the Doha Ministerial in November 2001.