Johannesburg, August 26, 2002 – As negotiations get underway at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg (1) on Monday 26th, Friends of the Earth International(2) accused the United States, Australia and Canada of standing in the way of international agreements for people and the planet and called on other governments to ignore this “axis of environmental evil”. (3)
“Instead of using the Earth Summit to respond to global concerns over deregulation and liberalisation, governments are pushing the World Trade Organisation’s agenda and rebranding it as ‘sustainable development’,” said Friends of the Earth International’s Daniel Mittler in Johannesburg.
Friends of the Earth International called on all governments to commit to countering the negative social and environmental impacts of economic globalisation. So far few positive measures have been agreed and governments could even reverse some commitments made ten years ago at the Rio Earth Summit.
Informal negotiations started on the 23rd with the US and the EU jointly proposing a new text on trade that utterly fails to address the issues of environmental protection, poverty relief and sustainable development that the Earth Summit has been convened to address. This joint text also fails to address the need for binding rules for global business, which are needed to deliver sustainable development. Corporations are present in Johannesburg in force pretending that they are already delivering sustainable development.
“Western multinationals are destroying livelihoods of communities in the third world. If these corporations were as responsible as they pretend here in Johannesburg, they should all be signed up to a binding corporate accountability convention which would make them legally liable for irresponsible behaviour” said Salvadorean Friends of the Earth International chair Ricardo Navarro.(4)
Industrialised nations are also unlikely to acknowledge their massive ecological debt to the developing world (5). Friends of the Earth International is preparing to bring the “people´s voice” to Johannesburg. At local actions in more than 15 countries, Friends of the Earth International has already collected thousands of demands to world leaders including via Radio Earth Summit.
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 on September 1st. 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!”.
Daniel Mittler, Earth Summit Campaign Coordinator, +27 72 401 5394
Ricardo Navarro, Friends of the Earth International chair: + 27 72 4015392
Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth International vice-chair: +27 72 4015393
NOTES TO EDITORS
(1) Official information on the summit is at http://www.earthsummit2002.org/
(2) Friends of the Earth is the largest environmental grassroots organisation, with more than 1 million members in 70 countries. www.foei.org
(3) The USA, Australia, Canada but also OPEC countries have continuously fought against any new commitments to emerge from the Earth Summit.
(4), (5) For FoEI corporate accountability and ecological debt campaign details visit www.rio-plus-10.org and www.foei.org