November 8, 2001 – Following the horrific events beginning in September 2001, Friends of the Earth International calls on world leaders to re-examine deep-seated trends that could be future sources of conflict.
It is clear that poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, resource depletion and inequality must all be tackled if the world is to become a safer place. Friends of the Earth International’s agenda offers a multilateral approach towards a more secure and sustainable society.
Make trade fair and sustainable
Trade and international economic policy must put people before profits and increasing trade should not be seen as an end in itself.
Governments must abandon plans to bring new issues into the World Trade Organisation. Instead, they must review and repair existing trade rules that have exacerbated the ever-growing inequalities in disadvantaged countries.
Control corporate activity and influence
The tenth anniversary meeting of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 is a crucial forum to examine the relationship between citizens, governments and corporations and an ideal opportunity to conceive legal regulations to make corporations accountable to people and to ensure compliance with common social and environmental standards.
Promote food security
Efforts to eradicate hunger must focus on empowering families, groups and communities to achieve food security and control over their resources. Sustainable low input farming should be supported as a means to provide access to food whilst promoting thriving rural economies and conserving soils and biological diversity. Meeting local food security must be a priority for policy makers over and above the creation of global markets in agricultural produce.
Ensure compliance with strengthened international environmental conventions
Commitments made by the international community ten years ago at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit to eradicate poverty and protect the environment must be fulfilled. In this spirit, governments must ensure that international environmental conventions are reviewed, improved and complied with.
Drop the debt
Creditor governments and institutions must agree on a comprehensive and unconditional cancellation of outstanding external debts of impoverished countries, far beyond what is currently agreed. A lasting solution to the debt crisis must also include the recognition of the ecological debt owed by the northern countries to the South, a factor that should be included in all future multilateral negotiations.
Protect the remaining forests
Forests are vital havens for hundreds of human cultures and millions of unique species of animals and plants. International agreements like the UN Convention on Biological Diversity must be urgently strengthened to conserve forests. Forest management must be placed in the hands of local communities, which have the greatest interest in their preservation.
International financial bodies, including the International Monetary Fund and multilateral development banks, must be urgently reformed to promote ecologically sustainable development rather than narrowly conceived policies to achieve export led growth. In order to conserve non- renewable resources and to protect the global climate, multilateral funding for oil, gas and mining projects must cease. Sustainable, community-led alternatives should instead be the priority.
Put a stop to climate change
One of the greatest threats to political and economic stability comes from rapid changes to the earth’s climate. The consequences are likely to include regional water scarcity, environmental refugees from famine and the economic damage caused by extreme weather – all potential sources of conflict. New technologies, more efficient use of energy, sustainable farming and reversing deforestation offer solutions that not only protect the atmosphere but also create jobs and promote prosperity.
An 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the developed countries by the middle of the present century could create enormous opportunity for global sustainable development.
The challenges are great, but the consequences of failing to rise to them are greater still.