Amsterdam/Berlin, July 26, 2002 – One month before the Earth Summit gets underway in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) calls on governments to intensify efforts to salvage this crucial United Nations conference. Friends of the Earth International warns that so far no positive actions have been agreed and governments risk falling behind the commitments made in Rio in 1992. Friends of the Earth International specifically accuses the United States, Australia and Canada to stand in the way of international agreements for people and the planet and calls on other governments to ignore the obstructions by this “axis of environmental evil”.
Instead of using the Earth Summit to respond to global concerns over deregulation and liberalisation, governments are rebranding the WTO´s free trade agenda as sustainable development. Corporations are likely to be given a free hand by governments in Johannesburg, despite a groundswell of support for Friends of the Earth International´s call for binding global rules for corporations (2). Industrialised nations are also unlikely to acknowledge their massive ecological debt to the developing world.
The USA, Australia, Canada and OPEC countries have continuously fought against any new commitments to emerge from the Earth Summit. At recent informal meetings (3) the EU and developing countries at long last stood up to these wreckers. Friends of the International calls on them to stand firm and move ahead without the United States if necessary. A global target on renewable energy of at least 10% new renewable energy could then be agreed.
Friends of the Earth International is preparing to bring the “people´s voice” to Johannesburg. At local actions in more than 15 countries, FoEI has already collected several thousand demands to world leaders. For every demand collected, Friends of the Earth International will deliver a small figurine designed by local South African artists to the conference centre in Johannesburg in early September. This major art installation, which will also feature a 6 metre high “corporate giant”, will have a clear message to governments: “Don´t let big business rule the world!”.
FoEI is collecting messages for the Joahnnesburg action via its own Radio station, Radio Earth Summit (4) and via the Internet. Indian activist writer Arundhati Roy, and pop icons Radiohead have already contributed their own demand.
Daniel Mittler, Campaign Coordinator for FoEI, comments: “Governments must act fast to deliver meaningful action for people and the planet at Johannesburg. Bush and his corporate cronies do not care for the future of our planet. But ordinary people all over the world do. Friends of the Earth International will make sure their voices are heard loud and clear at the Earth Summit.”
Friends of the Earth International´s comments on the latest negotiation text (June 12th), which will form the basis of discussions in Johannesburg, are available at www.rio-plus-10.org .
Daniel Mittler , Earth Summit Campaign Coordinator, +49 173 923 4747 (in Johannesburg from August 21st)
(1) The official summit website can be found here.
(2) FoEI has launched a global campaign for binding corporate accountability rules which is supported by civil society worldwide.
(3) Informal consultations between a groups of more than 25 countries known as the “Friends of the Chair” took place in New York on July 17th.
(4) “Radio Earth Summit”: works with community radios all over the world and will bring testimonies and sounds to FoEI´s major art installation.