Johannesburg, August 28, 2002 – In the wake of a weekend in which world trade negotiations completely overwhelmed the Earth Summit, Friends of the Earth today published and distributed a new negotiating text for Governments, to help point them in the right direction.

Trade issues following from the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Summit are causing bitter divisions between Northern and Southern governments meeting in Johannesburg, with little sign of agreement being reached. Most governments present however, seem to subscribe to the idea that “free trade” is more important than the environment and sustainability, both of which have been pushed firmly onto the back seat.

The new text, proposed by Friends of the Earth as an alternative to the current texts on Implementation and Globalisation, sets out the following key principles:

  • Sustainable development is dependent on the equitable and sustainable use of limited resources
  • Sustainability must be based on economic diversity
  • Different models of development are appropriate in different societies and communities. The “one size fits all” approach of the WTO and IMF is doomed to failure
  • Economic subsidiarity should allow people to make decisions about their own economies at the lowest possible level
  • Effective corporate control must be introduced, including corporate accountability and liability rules and international anti-trust legislation
  • Stronger international institutions and mechanisms are required to protect the principles of equity and sustainability.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth International Chair Ricardo Navarro said: “The neo-liberal economic policies being foisted on the world, primarily by rich Northern Governments and the international institutions they dominate, are failing people and the planet. Inequality is increasing and poverty in many countries is getting worse. Forests, minerals and fossil fuels are being exploited at an ever increasing and utterly unsustainable rate. Democracy is being eroded as economic power is concentrated in fewer hands. Environmental standards, biodiversity and cultural diversity are all under threat.

If Governments are to get serious at these talks, now is the time to do it. Friends of the Earth’s new negotiating text could be the basis for new and progressive negotiations. Governments should abandon their current positions and start discussing the principles and issues that really matter.”

Ronnie Hall 072 401 5402
Alexandra Wandel 072 406 4749
Niccolo Sarno (media) 072 4015387
Ian Willmore (media) 072 4015386