Geneva, September 24, 2001 – Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) today criticised the Governments of Europe and North America for putting trade priorities above people and the planet in their plans for next year’s Earth Summit.

Formal preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio + 10) are now under way and Ministers from Europe and the US today descended on Geneva to negotiate a statement of what they aim to achieve at the Summit. The meeting is the main input to the Summit from the UN ECE region (which includes the whole of Europe and North America) and it exposes what the main parties want from the Summit. A draft of the ministerial statement to be agreed in Geneva on 25 September reveals a corporate libertarian stance from the Governments, which want the Summit to “support” the current international trading system.

Friends of the Earth International wants to see the Governments of the ECE region live up to their commitments made nine years ago at Rio, and honestly assess why unsustainable development continues. FoEI is appalled that instead long-standing government commitments such as raising development aid to 0,7% of GDP and the key role of the precautionary principle in environmental decision-making are being put into question at the Geneva negotiations.

FoEI is calling on Governments to agree an ambitious agenda for the World Summit. Governments should use the Johannesburg meeting to establish rules of corporate accountability, environmental rights, a just trade system, effective environmental governance and agree action by over-consuming countries on their ecological debt to the South.

Daniel Mittler of FoEI said: “One of the key obstacles to progress since Rio has been the unquestioned devotion to neoliberal trade objectives. It seems Governments have decided corporations and free trade dogma are untouchable and no action can be expected. Nine years of continued unsustainable development are more than enough. It is time to stop moving backwards and deliver timetables and targets to achieve real sustainability.”

A one page statement on FoEI’s demands on the World Summit is available here.

In Geneva: Daniel Mittler or Matt Phillips +49 173 923 4747