WSSD Info. News

ISSUE # 10 (A)

Issue # 10 (A) ~ Issue # 10 (B) ~ Issue # 10 (C) ~ Issue # 10 (D) ~ Issue # 10 (E)

Compiled by Richard Sherman

Edited by Kimo Goree 

Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Distributed exclusively to the 2002SUMMIT-L list by IISD Reporting Services

For more information on the WSSD, visit IISD's Linkages Portal at

Editor's note: Welcome to the tenth and final issue of WSSD.Info News, compiled by Richard Sherman. WSSD.Info News is an exclusive publication of IISD for the 2002SUMMIT-L list and should not be reposted or republished to other lists/websites without the permission of IISD (you can write Kimo for permission.) If you have been forwarded this issue and would like to subscribe to 2002SUMMIT-L, please visit

Funding for the production of WSSD.Info News (part of the IISD Reporting Services annual program) has been provided by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the United States (through USAID), the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL), the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development - DFID), the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Government of Germany (through German Federal Ministry of Environment - BMU, and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation - BMZ). General Support for the Bulletin during 2002 is provided by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment of Finland, the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment of Norway, Swan International, and the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – IGES). If you like WSSD.Info News, please thank them for their support.




  3. SUMMIT FAILS TO SET CONCRETE GOALS Daily Yomiuri 17 September 2002












  15. TAIWAN SCORES SUCCESS AT SUMMIT Taipei Times 10 September 2002


  17. NATION BACKS UP SUMMIT PLANS China Daily 9 September 2002

  18. TECHNOLOGY AS A TOOL OF DIPLOMACY Taipei Times 9 September 2002



  21. UN BLOCKS FUTURE EARTH SUMMITS Independent 8 September 2002


  23. WORLD SUMMIT CONCLUDES WITH CALLS TO ACTION Europaworld 6 September 2002

  24. JOHANNESBURG SUMMIT: A TRIUMPH OR A DISASTER? International Herald Tribune 6 September 2002



  27. WSSD MET AFRICA'S EXPECTATIONS: MBEKI BuaNews (Pretoria) 5 September 2002


  29. IRAN WANTS ACTION ON WSSD PLANS SABC News 5 September 2002

  30. EARTH SUMMIT WON'T SAVE PLANET, BUT MIGHT HELP The Financial Gazette 5 September 2002









  39. WE HAVE NOT LIVED UP TO: EXPECTATIONS – CHAVEZ The Post (Lusaka) 5 September 2002 

  40. JO'BURG SUMMIT MAY PROVE TO BE A DAMP SQUIB Financial Express 5 September 2002


  42. 'GOOD IN PARTS' IS THE FINAL VERDICT ON THE WSSD (Johannesburg) 5 September 2002

  43. EARTH SUMMIT PRODUCED 290,000 TONS CARBON DIOXIDE Reuters 5 September 2002

  44. SUMMIT'S FAILED HOPES BBC 4 September 2002

  45. THE BUBBLE-AND-SQUEAK SUMMIT The Economist4 September 2002



  48. "EARTH SUMMIT" PLAN OF ACTION APPROVED Environment News Service 4 September 2002


  50. EARTH SUMMIT" ADOPTS ACTION PLAN WRAPPED IN CONTROVERSY Environment News Service 4 September 2002


  52. KEY WORLD SUMMIT INITIATIVES Associated Press4 September 2002

  53. BUSINESS WELCOMES WSSD ACTION PLAN iAfrica4 September 2002



  56. BOTSWANA TO PRESENT REPORT AT WORLD SUMMIT Botswana Government3 September 2002

  57. OBASANJO INSISTS ON DEBT REMISSION Daily Times of Nigeria3 September 2002

  58. EARTH SUMMIT DEAL SNAGGED ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS Reuters via September 2002

  59. ACTION PLAN OF SUMMIT LOOKS WEAK TO ACTIVISTS International Herald Tribune 3 September 2002

  60. QUOTES FROM LEADERS AT THE WORLD SUMMIT Associated Press3 September 2002


  62. SA MINISTERS HAIL FINAL WSSD TEXT South African Press Association (Johannesburg) 3 September 2002

  63. PEOPLE DEMAND PROGRESS, MBEKI TELLS WORLD LEADERS Environment News Service 3 September 2002

  64. CARIBBEAN MARGINALISED AT EARTH SUMMIT Jamaica Observer 2 September 2002

  65. WORLD SUMMIT AGREES ON POVERTY PLAN Associated Press 2 September 2002


  67. KOFI ANNAN CALLS ON RICH NATIONS TO LEAD THE WAY Inter Press Service 2 September 2002





  72. UK, FRANCE COMMIT TO EXTRA EUR200 MILLION IN NEW DEVELOPMENT AID Dow Jones Business News 2 September 2002







  79. JOHANNESBURG: AGREEMENTS AND DISAGREEMENTS Edie Weekly Summaries 30 August 2002



  82. WORLD SUMMIT OFFERS HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY - US OFFICIAL The NEWS (Monrovia) via All Africa 30 August 2002





  87. A DECADE LATER, OPTIMISM PREVAILS AT EARTH SUMMIT Financial Express 29 August 2002








  95. MBEKI: END 'GLOBAL APARTHEID' CNN 29 August 2002

  96. U.S. PUSHES 'PARTNERSHIPS' AT EARTH SUMMIT Reuters 29 August 2002



  99. SUMMIT REACHES OCEAN PROTECTION DEAL Associated Press 28 August 2002








  107. MBEKI CALLS FOR END TO ECONOMIC 'JUNGLE LAW' Independent Online 27 August 2002

  108. HOW WILL THE WORLD RATE WSSD 10 YEARS LATER? The Asahi Shimbun 27 August 2002












  8. YAHOO

















20 September 2002

Brussels, Belgium - WWF today urged the EU Fisheries Ministers to remember the commitments made in Johannesburg by European leaders - to restore fish stocks and eliminate harmful subsidies - when they meet on Monday in Brussels to discuss the future of Europe's fisheries policy.  The EU Fisheries Ministers' meeting will be the first one on Europe's fisheries policy since the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).  In South Africa, the EU and its leaders agreed an Implementation Plan which committed them to achieve sustainable fisheries, to restore fish stocks to levels that can provide the maximum sustainable yield, and to eliminate subsidies that contribute to overcapacity.  "This appears to be in total contrast to the negative stance taken by some Fisheries Ministers towards the modest reforms proposed by the European Commission," said Tony Long, Director of WWF European Policy Office. "Judging by the speeches of European leaders at Johannesburg there has been a change of heart."  At WSSD, French President Jacques Chirac described nature as being overexploited and no longer able to regenerate, and proposed that France be the first country to be assessed for its implementation of the Johannesburg Action Plan.  Similarly, Portuguese Prime Minister Barroso said, "Oceans' ecosystems and resources continue to be depleted at an alarming rate (...). Effective action to improve oceans and coastal management is urgently needed."

"I hope the Fisheries Ministers have been listening to their leaders," added Tony Long. "Here are the leaders of two countries that have so far opposed reform of Europe's disastrous fisheries policy making a clear commitment to do better in the future."  In fact, Europe's leaders have previously made one unambiguous commitment to reform the CFP - at the Gothenburg Summit in June 2001 - when they agreed that "the review of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2002 should address the overall fishing pressure by adapting EU fishing effort to the level of available resources." 


United Nations News
19 September 2002

19 September - The past year has been a challenging one for developing States, with the world economy recovering very slowly and the return of growth rates to levels achieved prior to the Asian crisis likely only in 2005, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a meeting of ministers from the Group of 77 countries at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.  "Quite apart from the ruinous effects on individual men, women and children in the countries concerned, these economic doldrums have had global consequences - driving home yet again the message that no nation can consider itself immune from, or insured against, the effects of events and trends taking place thousands of miles away," the Secretary-General said in his remarks to the 133-nation coalition of developing countries.  The Secretary-General underscored the achievements of major economic meetings of the past year - from the World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar, to the International Conference on Financing for Development held in Monterrey, Mexico, and the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa - to address the challenges of development in an interdependent world.  "The conferences of the past year, their antecedents over the past decade, and the Millennium Development Goals have mobilized all stakeholders and partners around a common vision of economic and social progress," Mr. Annan said. "They have also created a common policy framework that now guides the entire United Nations system."  Progress towards implementing the goals of the Millennium Declaration, however, presented a mixed picture, the Secretary-General noted, calling achievements so far toward reducing child and maternal mortality "inadequate."

Mr. Annan told the ministers that he will submit to the Member States next week an agenda to further strengthen the UN, and called on countries to support those measures, many of which are directed towards the economic and social areas of greatest concern to the Group of 77.  "We must focus our energies not on activities that are of marginal utility or programmes that are no longer serving their intended purposes, but on the major challenges of our era and the things that really matter to the peoples of the world," he stressed. 


Daily Yomiuri
17 September 2002

Among the wide range of issues covered at the World Summit on Sustainable Development that ended in Johannesburg earlier this month, environmentalists saw the issue of renewable energy as the key to protecting the environment, and this issue occasioned the most heated discussion in the summit.  The European Union, already one of the leaders in the renewable energy field, supported specific targets to increase the use of renewable energy by a set date, while other developed countries, such as Japan and the United States, opposed setting such specific targets, saying that they were unrealistic. Developing countries pointed out that extending access to energy to the poor is their first priority.  The differences in opinion between rich countries and impoverished ones were reflected in a U.N. report released in August. According to the report, "Over 2.5 billion people in developing countries depend on (wood for fuel) or, when that is unaffordable, on crop residues and animal dung."  Nongovernmental organizations, also key players at the summit, supported the target of increasing the global share of renewable energy to 15 percent of total primary energy supply by 2010, emphasizing the need for alternative energy sources for fossil fuels, whose burning is blamed for global warming.  The WSSD was a postmortem of the first Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago that adopted Agenda 21, a blueprint for action for sustainable development.  At the 1992 Earth Summit, world leaders had already agreed on the importance of increasing the use of renewable energy.  Agenda 21 stated that reducing energy consumption could contribute to the alleviation of environmental stress, and therefore, it was strongly urged that governments, in cooperation with industry, intensify their efforts in "encouraging the environmentally sound use of new and renewable sources of energy." In other words, a direction for the use of renewable energy was set in Rio de Janeiro.  However, last month's U.N. report stated that renewable energy sources make up only about 4.5 percent of total energy sources, up from 3.2 percent in 1971. Hydropower is the largest source, while wind and solar energy each provide only about 0.02 percent of the total.  Thus, it was vital that more concrete steps, such as setting time-bound targets, be taken in Johannesburg.  However, the final text of the action plan adopted at the end of the WSSD proposed to "Diversify energy supply by developing advanced, cleaner, more efficient, affordable and cost-effective energy technologies, including fossil fuel technologies and renewable energy technologies, hydro included." It also recommended, "with a sense of urgency, substantially increas(ing) the global share of renewable energy sources with the objective of increasing its contribution to total energy supply."  The winners? The United States, Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia and other countries who opposed the setting of specific targets.  During a press briefing held after an agreement was reached on the provision of renewable energy, one U.S. government official said that "green" energy includes nuclear and fossil fuels, and the definition of "green" energy should be determined by each country based on its own circumstances.  In response to the U.S. stance on the issue of renewable energy, one U.S. activist said, "(U.S. President George W.) Bush is owned by oil companies."

Shortly after the agreement was reached, environmentalists protested the provision.  "This deal is worse than no deal," said Kate Hampton of Friends of the Earth.  The construction of large-scale hydropower plants has concerned environmentalists for their negative impact on the surrounding environment.  Although some researchers of renewable energy point out the necessity of nuclear power to support the unstable output of wind and solar powers, the fear of nuclear accidents, with their potential to have a devastating impact on the environment, remains strong, especially in developed countries.  Meanwhile, the WSSD did see some progress, such as announcements by the Russian and Canadian governments of their intention to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which is aimed at curbing greenhouse gases. Although the two governments did not specify when they would ratify the pact, the ratification of Russia alone would bring the level of carbon dioxide emissions created by ratifying countries to 55 percent of total emissions by developed countries. A minimum level of 55 percent is required to bring the pact into effect.  During the summit, the Japanese government urged other developed countries that have not ratified the pact to do so as soon as possible.  However, Remi Parmentier of Greenpeace pointed out the contradiction in Japan supporting the Kyoto Protocol while opposing time-bound targets for renewable energy, targets environmentalists see as an important step toward fighting global warming.  


Seychelles Online
16 September 2002

Seychelles managed to reinforce its leadership role in sustainable development and environmental conservation during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg recently. Environment Minister Ronny Jumeau announced this on Tuesday in his office at the National Library where representatives of both governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGO) who went to South Africa met with the press. He also said that Seychelles had also been requested by Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to work on a number of projects, and also declared that most of the larger countries responsible for the pollution of the world had agreed to sign the Kyoto Protocol which was aimed and the reduction of pollution globally. "We put in considerable pressure for people to ratify the protocol," he said, noting that the conference, attended by 60,000 delegates, also delved into matters related to climate change. The minister, who read President France Albert Rene's message at the WSSD, said that many environmental problems were not necessarily related to climate change. "Some of the adverse effects being experienced on the coral reefs, for example, are not entirely related to climate change.

"Some are due to unsustainable development, pressure of populations on the coasts and other problems which are man-made," he said.

Saying that all island states had been trying to make their voice on economic vulnerability heard over the years, Minister Jumeau said that in general, small island states tended to have higher Gross Domestic Product per capita among developing countries. He confirmed that Seychelles would benefit from a $20 million project for the protection of these islands' biodiversity, explaining that Global Environment Facility (GEF) would offer funds to the tune of $9 million, and help this country to secure the $11 million from donors globally.

He also confirmed that GEF was in the process of approving an NGO  project worth $1 million. Under the African Partnersip for the Development and Protection of the Environment, Seychelles would benefit from a $312  million fund. Once received, Seychelles portion of the money would be used to finance 11 coastal and sea management projects. Minister Jumeau led the four-man Seychelles delegation, while Mr Nirmal Jivan Shah headed the NGO delegation from the islands. 


Daily Star
16 September 2002

Speakers yesterday made a call to formulate an action plan to execute the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted at the just concluded World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) for ensuring sustainable livelihood of the people of Bangladesh.  They were participating at a briefing session on WSSD outcome, organised by the Forum of Environmental Journalists of Bangladesh (FEJB), at FEJB Conference Room in the city.  Environment and Forest Minister Shajahan Siraj, State Minster for Environment and Forest Jafrul Islam Chowdhury and representatives of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and DFID took part in the briefing session attended by the members of the civil society bodies.  FEJB Chairman Quamrul Islam Chowdhury chaired the briefing session organised with the support of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, UNDP and Danish 92 Group.  Environment and Forest Minister Shajahan Siraj said Bangladesh drew wide attention in the recently held World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) by focusing the issues of its concern.  "We took preparations for the summit months ahead of the event which enabled us at the government and NGO levels to focus the issues concerning Bangladesh and gained support for its causes," he told the participants.  The minister added that Bangladesh courageously highlighted its problems like sharing of waters of common rivers with India saying Farakka and other barrages constructed upstream were threatening the lives of millions as well as the environment particularly the ecosystem of the world's largest mangrove forest Sundarbans.  He said the international community particularly extended their supports for the promotion of jute as an environment-friendly biodegradable product.  Siraj said the WSSD has set specific targets in most of the issues of environment and sustainable development and "we believe we will be able to attain the target with the assistance of development partners and the involvement of our people."  "In Bangladesh we have experienced that if leadership is there, people play their due role particularly as far as environment is concerned." he said.  Jafrul Islam Chowdhury said the WSSD has set the field for carrying out activities at the national level across the world as many countries, which earlier did not ratify the international treaties and conventions on environment were forced to acknowledge the issues to play their due role.

Paul Martin of the World Bank said the link between poverty and environment appeared to be a major focus of the WSSD, on which Bangladesh could concentrate as bad environment affects human health, causes poverty and exposes people to vulnerability.  Quamrul Islam Chowdhury said the WSSD has set some "ambitious targets" but what is now needed is the will and the capacity to attain the goals.

"The test will be whether the countries meet them," he said emphasising the need for formulating a national action plan to execute the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.  Ki Hee Ryu of ADB underscored the need for integrating water and poverty issues in the light of WSSD outcome.  


Frankfurter Allgemeine
13 September 2002

FRANKFURT. While the German government voiced cautious satisfaction with the outcome of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development that ended Sept. 4, German non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been venting their anger over the summit's shortcomings. Germany was unable to push through one of its key goals, to lift the share of renewable energy worldwide to 15 percent by 2010 from the current 13.5 percent. All the delegates could agree on was a "considerable increase" subject to reviews to be reached "urgently." The German delegation did manage to enforce some other goals, however. The summit decided to cut by half the number of people who do not have access to basic sanitary infrastructure by 2015 and to minimize the reduction of biodiversity by 2010. Another aim, to reverse the trend toward losing natural resources by 2015, was watered down. It is now to be reached "as soon as possible." The German branch of Friends of the Earth, Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), called the summit disappointing. "Environmental interests were betrayed in Johannesburg," said BUND President Angelika Zahmt, adding that "Thanks to the backward U.S. government, supported by Australia, Canada, Japan and the OPEC countries, sustainability was to a large extent sacrificed for short-term economic interests." Zahmt called the outcome - only two concrete goals concerning fishery and access to clean water - unworthy of a world summit. Volker Hausmann of Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, an organization dedicated to combating hunger, questioned the summit's format, saying that "The time of major summits is over." It was good that advances had been made in some areas, such as access to water, but results in other fields, such as agricultural subsidies and renewable energy, were all the more disillusioning. "Overall, there were too many issues on the agenda while no binding plans for implementation were made." Welthungerhilfe therefore called for smaller international conferences dedicated to just one topic each, allowing for easier decision-making and binding implementation concepts. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said Germany would host such a conference on renewable energy when he spoke to the summit's participants in Johannesburg. He considered the summit a success, since "It paves the way for modern policies in many areas, such as energy and water as well as biodiversity." Environmental Minister Jürgen Trittin said Germany would provide financing of €500 million ($488 million) for the creation of renewable energy resources in developing countries over the next five years. According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Germany looks likely to miss its own goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent by 2005 compared with 1990. The newspaper claimed it had seen the environmental ministry's unpublished annual report, which said that emissions had in fact climbed in the last two years. The ministry denied this, adding that the report would not be published until after general elections on Sept.  


Taipei Times
13 September 2002

NOVEL IDEA: Under the new plan, the minister of foreign affairs will take charge of a unit that will promote sustainable development on an international level. Diplomatic concerns pertaining to sustainable development will soon be added to the portfolio of the Cabinet's National Council for Sustainable Develop-ment Minister without Portfolio Yeh Jiunn-rong said yesterday that this will not only improve Taiwan's image in the international community but will also ensure that the nation has a sustainable future.  At a conference held yesterday by the council to create action plans for sustainable development, Yeh said that working closely with other countries would be one of many important strategies to promote sustainable development.  "Our efforts in Johannesburg highlighted the necessity of working with other countries to promote sustainable development as being Taiwan's best new diplomatic direction," Minister without Portfolio Yeh Jiunn-rong Yeh told the Taipei Times that Premier Yu Shyi-kun clearly pointed out on Wednesday the necessity of letting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) work with the council. Yu came to this conclusion after reviewing Taiwan's recent participation in the UN's World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa.  "Our efforts in Johannesburg highlighted the necessity of working with other countries to promote sustainable development as being Taiwan's best new diplomatic direction," Yeh told the Taipei Times.  Yeh said that administrative procedures to incorporate the ministry into the council would not take long.  Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien who served as Taiwan's first Environmental Protection Administrator in 1987, would take charge of a unit that would promote sustainable development at an international level, Yeh said.  The council yesterday also specified 62 important tasks for different sectors relevant to creating sustainable development, ranging from the sectors of education, health, biodiversity, state-owned land management, international environmental affairs, energy creation and industry.  Lee Ling-ling), a zoology professor at National Taiwan University, told the conference that the lack of updated information and good partnership between the government and local groups made the preservation of biodiversity a daunting task.  Yeh stressed that the implementation of all 62 tasks relied on the establishment of good partnership between central government and local action groups, between central government and local governments, and between local governments and action groups.  Vice Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu  told the conference that education projects should be well-designed in order to train more people who can work on the promotion of sustainable development at the international level.  Environmental Protection Administrator Hau Lung-bin said that Taiwan would participate in international environmental pacts more aggressively. It would also present documents citing Taiwan's actions.  "Through the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment, Taiwan still has a lot to do," Hau said.  Speaking from a perspective of global environmental protection, Hau said that Taiwan should not neglect the emerging business opportunities in the environmental protection industry when considering sustainable development.  He also stressed the necessity of joining international organizations to monitor the long-range movement of airborne pollutants.  Environmental problems relating to acid rain united countries in eastern Asia such as China, Japan and South Korea. These countries have already established monitoring networks. 

12 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The United Nations and the International Chamber of Commerce named ten business partnership programs from around the world which are making an outstanding contribution to sustainable development.  Ten of the final 32 recipients of the ICC/UNEP World Summit Business Award for Sustainable Development Partnerships were presented at the Johannesburg Earth Summit. They are from four continents and represent a variety of innovative projects involving companies, environmental groups, local communities, and governments, from gas exploration in the Philippines to organic spice farming in Guatemala.  From each partnership, the lead partner is a company, NGO, government, or local authority. The lead partners and their partnership projects are (in no particular order):

· Alcan Inc. (Canada) - for a schools-based recycling program in Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Thailand, and USA

· Shell (Philippines) - for a gas exploration project in The Philippines

· Axel Springer Verlag (Germany) - for a program promoting greater accountability in the newsprint production process

· Kesko (Finland) - for an initiative reducing packaging waste in their retail stores

· E7 Network (power generation companies from around the world) - for a project to provide renewable electricity to Indonesian villagers

· ForesTrade (USA) - for the creation of an international market in organic spices, grown in Indonesia and Guatemala

· Municipality of Calvia (Spain) - for a program with local hoteliers to reduce waste produced by the tourism industry

· BioRe and Coop (Switzerland) - for their efforts to build a market in organic cotton clothing products involving farmers in India and Tanzania

· Migros (Switzerland) - for its program to promote sustainable production of palm oil in Ghana for its consumer products

· Business Trust South Africa (a coalition of South African companies and local government) - for an initiative to build the tourism industry and create jobs.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Topfer said, "It is good to see that the 2002 Awards have received such wide interest. I hope that the award-winning partnerships will present inspirational examples for others to follow and improve upon. We crucially need many more partnerships that display multistakeholder involvement, accountability, and at the same time, benefits to business, helping us to better achieve the goal of sustainable development."  The final partnerships were assessed and selected by a panel of 12 experts drawn from business, labor, research, environmental groups, and the United Nations. More than 120 nomination, spanning 37 countries were received via ICC National Committees and UNEP Regional Offices. 


Jamaica Observer
12 September 2002

JUSTICE Minister and Attorney General, A J Nicholson, said there were mixed results for Jamaica and other small developing countries at the just- concluded World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. Speaking with JIS News in London during a brief stopover on his way home from the conference, the minister said there was the feeling that the peculiar risks and uncertainties that affected small developing states on a daily basis were not fully appreciated or acknowledged on all sides. "The perceived and potential benefits of globalisation still mean that many developing countries are susceptible to market forces and the capricious behaviours of large national and international corporations," Nicholson said. However, he said there were some positive steps at the conference, including the summits implementation plan for Small Island Developing States and the adoption and endorsement of the Latin American and Caribbean initiative for sustainable development. "In moving towards sustainable development there is need to foster energy-efficient strategies and the diversification of energy supplies and the use of renewable energy supplies. We (developing countries) deeply regret the failure to establish firm targets to move from non-sustainable to sustainable energy supplies," he noted. Nicholson said the conference affirmed the wisdom that sustainable development should be carried out in a framework of partnership at both the development and implementation stages. He also said there should be arrangements within established parameters to involve all partners and establish mechanisms to prevent strong countries from backing out on commitments made to assist developing countries. 


The Western Mail (Wales)
11 September 2002

THE World Summit in Johannesburg, despite cynicism and disillusionment, was nevertheless a small milestone in the evolution of government in Wales. Meaningful global agreements were few and far between, but the participation of our First Minister will have lasting repercussions back home. If the Assembly Government's rhetoric is turned into action, this small milestone may even guide others along the road to sustainability. The UN World Summit on Sustainable Development was much more than a meeting of heads of state - it brought together local and regional governments, business groups, academics and non-governmental organisations. It was the first time in history that Wales had been represented on the global stage by an elected politician: the incorporation of global issues adds a new dimension to the Assembly's constitution. The role of business was also in the spotlight at Johannesburg. The undoubtedly destructive influence of some big energy companies in blocking progress on climate change and renewables was balanced by partnership agreements for practical projects on the ground. Although the summit didn't institutionalise such agree-ments into any UN evaluation process, a parallel development on regionalisation makes them highly relevant in Wales. Rhodri Morgan was co-chair of a global conference of the regions which led to the signing of the Gauteng Declaration. When we look back on Johannesburg, we may find that the process of sustainable development was better served by the involvement of the sub-national governments, progressive business groups and NGOs than the often empty gestures of the heads of state. The inertia and complexity of the nation states prevents them challenging the dominant (and failed) economic orthodoxies. Amongst the Gauteng signatories was the State of Western Australia, whose commitment contrasted sharply with that of the Australian Federal Government which vetoed everything in sight. From the US, Congressman George Miller of California spoke out against his Federal Govern-ment's line on energy: that state is home to the world's leading-edge new technology companies and academic institutions. By signing the Declaration these states, and Wales, recognise that regional government and business can generate solutions. However, this regional co-operation should not let the big governments off the hook: only at the highest level can action be taken on poverty eradication, on corporate responsibility and trade. But with powerful vested interests ranged against these reforms, such leadership seems to have become politically impossible. The nation states can and must empower their regional and local governments and place the necessary tools in the hands of democratic institutions and businesses that are closer to the people. In Wales a huge responsibility will now fall on the Assembly Government, which needs to re-form its departments and agencies. But Johannesburg was also a wake-up call to business: opportunities are there for the taking. This coalition can address the issues left unresolved in Johannesburg, setting the agenda rather than waiting for them to be set by mega summits and multilateral conventions. 


Daily Yomiuri
11 September 2002

"We have no money, no jobs--we have nothing," said Kate Mxakato, an 89-year-old bedridden woman living in a low-income black community in Soweto, South Africa.  Mxakato, once an active antiapartheid campaigner, was not entirely accurate. In fact, her pension provides her with a regular monthly income of 620 rand (about 62 dollars). The reality, however, is that 10 people live in her two-bedroom house, including her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her pension is the sole source of household income because the rest of her family members are either children or unemployed.  The alleviation of poverty was one of the main themes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which was held from Aug. 26 to Sept. 4 in the luxurious Sandton area, a 30-minute car ride from Mxakato's house.  A total of 104 heads of state and government participated in the conference, which attracted about 21,000 participants, including government officials, members of nongovernmental organizations, and representatives from municipal governments and the business sector.  The WSSD was intended as a 10-year review of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where delegates adopted Agenda 21, a 40-chapter action program for preserving the environment. Since the Earth Summit, it had become increasingly obvious that poverty causes environmental degradation, and the goal of the WSSD was to achieve harmony among three central concerns--the economy, social development and the environment.  In his opening remarks at the WSSD, Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, said the root causes of global environmental degradation "are embedded in social and economic problems such as pervasive poverty, unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, and vast and increasing inequities in the distribution of wealth."  People in South Africa vividly illustrate the gap between the haves and have-nots. For example, living conditions are even harsher in another area in Soweto--Motsoaledi. Squatters live in shacks that cover the hilly area, which is without electricity or running water and where the smell of human waste hangs in the air.  Unlike some neighboring countries, such as Zimbabwe, South Africa is a democracy and does not suffer from a severe drought. In fact, South Africa's gross domestic product is larger than those of Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt combined. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate among black people in South Africa exceeds 40 percent. The labor market is even worse in low-income communities in Soweto. There, young men and women aimlessly walk the streets during what would otherwise be working hours.

"The government is abandoning its responsibility," said Kagiso Chakane, 42, who lost his job at a phone company in February last year. He depends on his wife, who works as a secretary and earns a monthly salary of 2,500 rand (about 30,000 yen). "There may be no jobs for the next 10 years," he lamented.  Siphamandla Zondi, a researcher on sustainable development at the Africa Institute, said globalization has accelerated unfair trade practices. As a result, he said, "A smaller portion of the world's population has become richer and a larger portion has remained poor."  During the summit, hundreds of antiglobalization protesters gathered in Johannesburg from all over the country.  Jacobus Davidson, 42, from the Western Cape Province, expressed his discontent. "Look up around. Poor people are not benefiting from development. Development is only for the bourgeoisie, only for rich people in Europe or other developed countries," he said.  The protesters demonstrated by walking from Nasrec in Johannesburg to Sandton. As a parallel event to the WSSD, Nasrec hosted the Civil Society Global Forum, a gathering of tens of thousands of representatives from NGOs from all over the world. Some of the international NGO members joined in demonstrations against globalization.  There were several marches between low-income black communities in Johannesburg and Sandton, which were intended to illuminate the widening income gap between the city's shantytowns and its affluent areas.  Richard Moloisane, a 42-year-old driver, said, "I see the widening gap even among black people. People like high-ranking government officials have become richer while we, who work the hardest, remain poor."  


The Borneo Project via Oneworld
11 September 2002

Johannesburg - The village of Uma Bawang has been chosen from a pool of 420 communities worldwide to receive the 2002 Equator Prize at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. Uma Bawang, an indigenous village located on the island of Borneo, is one of seven communities to win the 2002 Equator Prize for outstanding efforts to reduce poverty and sustainably manage biodiversity. For eleven years, the city of Berkeley and the village of Uma Bawang have been linked through an official sister-city partnership. This unique international relationship started shortly after 42 Uma Bawang residents were jailed for erecting blockades to keep logging companies out of their ancestral rainforests. The sister-city partnership has evolved over time into a non-profit called the Borneo Project, which continues to assist Uma Bawang and other forest-dependent communities to protect indigenous land rights, threatened rainforests and the right to self-determination. In addition to international recognition, the Uma Bawang Resident's Association (UBRA) was awarded $30,000 in prize money to further their work. UBRA has successfully used blockades and innovative mapping efforts to defend their customary land rights and access to rainforest lands. Recently Uma Bawang used maps to defeat plans for an oil palm plantation that would have clear-cut their communal forests. Since UBRA's first mapping workshop in 1995, they have taught other communities how to defend their borders and secure legal recognition of traditional lands. UBRA's commitment to self-reliance has also generated numerous projects to provide sustenance and cash incomes including communal rice farming and milling, pig, fish and frog rearing, handicraft marketing, pepper and fruit production, reforestation of local species, and sustainable teakwood plantations. "The people of Uma Bawang have struggled for years to create their own vision of development," says Joe Lamb, Berkeley resident and founder of the sister-city. "Over the years, we've provided vital resources and technical training to assist their efforts, but what we've received in return is priceless. The Equator Prize shows just how much people in the developing world have to teach us about sustainable development." The Equator Initiative is sponsored by the United Nations Development Program, in partnership with BrasilConnects, the government of Canada, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), IUCN - The World Conservation Union, The Nature Conservancy, Television Trust for the Environment (TVE), and the UN Foundation. It showcases highly successful and innovative partnerships for sustainable development in tropical ecosystems. 


E-Taiwan News
10 September 2002

An association of local non-governmental organizations said yesterday that it sees the end of the recent Earth Summit as a starting point for its own actions.  Democratic Progressive Party legislator Eugene Jao and members of Taiwan Action Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO) who attended the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg two weeks ago said at a press conference yesterday that the summit did not achieve much in terms of a solid agreement, but served the purpose of highlighting and promoting the concept of sustainable development.  "Ten years ago at the world summit in Rio de Janiero the term sustainable development was just a theory as was discussed as such. But at the recently concluded Earth Summit, concrete measures were discussed to achieve this goal," said Jao.  Taiwan's input at the summit was described by TANGO as successful, as the group attended a total of 10 sessions and seminars and held bilateral meetings with representatives from Tibet, Germany, Hong Kong, China and Korea, respectively.  Juju Wang, leader of TANGOs, said they were also very successful in promoting the idea of "green diplomacy" and gained membership in two international organizations, the Global Environmental Justice Link and the Africa Anti-Dam Alliance."  "The end of the summit marks the beginning of our own action," said Wang, adding that greater efforts are needed to implement the proposals agreed to by the summit's participants from around the world.  "Our next step should be to train more people to work in the NGOs," said Wang.  The NGO group also participated in a demonstration organized by citizens of South Africa to protest the inequality of land distribution, and at yesterday's press conference members of the group displayed some of the placards carried in the protest. The Taiwan NGOs participation in the demonstration was warmly welcomed by the local citizens, TANGO said.  "We exerted a strength beyond that expected of a country the size of Taiwan,"said Jao who is also an anti-nuclear activist.  TANGO mounted a number of displays at the summit on the themes of Labor, Aborigines, Anti-nuclear, Water resources, Women and Chemical Storm.  According to the group, several hundred persons signed a petition in support of Taiwan's participation in the international community, while TANGO issued 1,800 "Taiwan Ecology Passports" to delegates at the summit.  Lai Fen-lan, one of the participants and also spokesperson for Taiwan's Green Party, said Taiwan's efforts at environmental protection was acknowledged by delegates and Taiwan also gained support to host the 2003 Asia Pacific Green Party Assembly.  


10 September 2002

Tehran, Sept 10, IRNA -- Vice President and Head of the Department of the Environment (DoE) Masoumeh Ebtekar here on Tuesday assessed the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, as quite positive on issues concerning the environment. World Summit on Sustainable Development (August 26-September 4) was attended by heads of states, ministers and senior experts. She told reporters that given Iran's efforts in the past two years and the active participation of Iranian delegation in most global and  regional sessions held in connection with the recent summit, Iran had a decisive say in drawing up the summit's final document. She pointed to `implementing and materializing' the commitments   made by various states in connection with environmental issues  worldwide as one of the most significant achievements of the recent summit. She recalled that the final document of the summit was, therefore,

drawn up more precisely. "More commitments are sought from developed and industrial countries in the summit's final document, while more active participation was demanded from governments and the public as non-governmental organizations to ensure their materializations," she added. The summit, the largest international forum, was attended by 110,000 senior world officials and was aimed at challenging governments to invest more to help reduce worldwide hunger and poverty as well as provide clean water.  Moreover, such issues as promoting renewable energy sources with a view to better protect the environment, wildlife diversity and management of ecosystems were also among the objectives of the summit.                                                              


Taipei Times
10 September 2002

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Both government officials and representatives of the nation's NGOs are back from Johannesburg and are pleased with their efforts there. Taiwan's recent successful participation in the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) demonstrates not only the nation's resolution to keep up with international environmental trends but also its future direction in the diplomatic sector, Minister without Portfolio Yeh Jiunn-rong said yesterday.  Reviewing Taiwanese officials' 11-day stay in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the summit was held, Yeh, the leader of Taiwan's delegation, said that more measures would be carried out to redirect Taiwan's diplomatic strategies, which would focus on sustainable development.  "Taiwan's aid to developing countries to ensure their sustainable future will eventually gain their respect," Yeh said at a press conference held in Taipei yesterday.  Yeh said that he and Environmental Protection Administrator Hau Lung-bin had actually planned future international cooperation with countries, such as Gambia, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Burkina Faso, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Canada and Indonesia.  Environmental Protection Agency head Hau met with Joke Waller-Hunter, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to demonstrate Taiwan's desire to work with the international community to protect the planet.  When Russia followed Canada in promising to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Sept. 3 at the summit, the once-troubled UN pact on global warming was revived. Ratification by Russia will mean that the climate change pact will take effect despite US opposition.  Taiwan, a non-party of the protocol, will not be able to participate because of its diplomatic status.  Yeh told the Taipei Times that Taiwan is pleased that the protocol will take effect but noted that Taiwan does not have to follow the regulations set down by the pact.  "What Taiwan can do now is to adjust its structure of industry to limit carbon dioxide emissions to show that Taiwan is sincere about working with others on these issues," Yeh said.  In addition, Yeh stressed that Taiwan should be especially attentive to international trends in the energy and biodiversity sectors.  "Our past dependence on fossil fuel and nuclear energy should be carefully reviewed because renewable sources of energy will be further promoted by the rest of the world for the sake of environmental protection," Yeh said.  Taiwan should focus on preserving natural coasts and wetlands because many surveys have shown that traditional development models conflict with ecological conservation, which is the foundation of biodiversity.  DPP Legislator Eugene Jao who was the only representative from the Legislative Yuan at the summit, said at the press conference that concepts of sustainable development should be considered in any review of the Economic Development Advisory Conference held last year.  "After all, Taiwan needs politicians who care about whether future generations will survive in 200 years rather than political figures who only care about the next election," Jao said.  Meanwhile, representatives from Taiwan Action NGOs (TANGOs), who spent two weeks in Johannesburg, said at another press conference yesterday that international networks were built or further strengthened by NGOs in Tibet, Germany, Hong Kong, China and South Korea.  "Our mission to promote sustainable development at home has already begun since our return from Johannesburg," said Juju Wang the leader of TANGOs.  Wang said that next year will be Jo'burg+1 in Taiwan and activities to promote sustainable development will be held every year to review Taiwan's efforts on sustainable development.  Wang said that the one failure of Taiwan's delegation was the absence of representatives from the education and health sector because poverty reduction and AIDS control were some of the primary issues at the summit. 


9 September 2002


Although there is some controversy surrounding the outcome of last week's summit on sustainable development there is one subject on which all delegates were unanimous: the important role that Earth observation satellites can play in assisting sustainable development.

 The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) 54-page Plan of Implementation contains more than 10 specific references to Earth observation, clearly demonstrating that the Summit recognised the importance of space technology for sustainable development. This success goes back to ESA, which - in its role as CEOS Chair -delivered a number of official statements during the preparatory meetings and the Summit itself. Some of the statements delivered by ESA, on behalf of CEOS, were also followed by supporting interventions by national delegations to CEOS, such as Japan and the USA.  ESA staff had a busy but rewarding week, as this year ESA is chair of CEOS and co-chair of IGOS, the Integrated Global Observing Strategy partnership. José Achache, ESA Director of Earth Observation, addressed the plenary session of the Summit on behalf of these organisations. ESA staff also participated in a number of meetings and discussions on the use of satellite data at Ubuntu Village in Johannesburg, where ESA also had a stand.  Two important WSSD partnership initiatives concerning Earth observation data were launched during the week: the first by IGOS concerning the use of space and ground measurements for sustainable development; and the second by CEOS to encourage partnership on education and training in Earth observation. Both of these measures aim to widen the use of Earth observation data to protect the environment, particularly in developing countries, and to ensure that this data is available to all.  To follow up on the action taken at the Summit, a high-level meeting has been arranged for 19 November at ESRIN, ESA's space research institute in Frascati, Italy. Here, government ministers, UN representatives and heads of space agencies will decide on how best to use satellite data to support sustainable development.  When asked about the Summit José Achache replied: "In Rio, heads of states achieved agreement on high level political declarations but with little underlying ground work. In contrast, Johannesburg did not lead to a strong political consensus but initiated many concrete actions and partnerships."  "Earth observation for space achieved a level of visibility and recognition at the Summit that has never before been achieved in such a forum."  "ESA is already contemplating the launch of a concrete initiative to support sustainable development and capacity building in developing countries, by the joint use of Earth observation and telecom satellites, particularly Envisat and Artemis." 


China Daily
9 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Zeng Peiyan, minister of the State Development Planning Commission, described the World Summit on Sustainable Development having a "positive" influence.  "The Chinese Government will work together with other countries to follow the consensus and action plans reached during this summit to promote global sustainable development with unremitting efforts," Zeng told China Daily in an interview yesterday.  China was the first country to draft its own country-specific plan for sustainable development after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Brazil's city of Rio de Janeiro a decade ago. Zeng, however, did not say when a similar Chinese action plan would arise as a result of the Johannesburg summit.  The 10-day summit ended on Wednesday after adopting the Political Declaration reaffirming participating countries' commitment to achieving sustainable development and a Plan of Implementation that set down targets and timetables to spur action on a wide range of issues.  The targets include: halving the proportion of people who lack access to clean water or proper sanitation by 2015, and phasing out the use of toxic chemicals by 2005.  "Compared with Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration in 1992, the results of this summit - including the Plan of Implementation, the Political Declaration and the suggestion for a partnership in achieving the goal of sustainable development - are more action-oriented," said Zeng. "They will be conducive to the implementation of the principles for sustainable development set down in the Rio summit."  In addition to the detailed timetables for most of the targets, Zeng noted that the Plan of Implementation also set down the policy measures that countries should take to meet the targets, as well as their responsibilities at an international and domestic level.  


Taipei Times
9 September 2002

FOREIGN RELATIONS: By transferring technology to less-developed countries, Taiwan can show that it is a part of the international community, officials say. The Cabinet's National Council for Sustainable Development this week will review and examine results of Taiwan's participation in the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 4.  One of the review points will be how Taiwan can narrow the sustainable development gap with the international community.  The idea was first brought up by Minister without Portfolio Yeh Jiunn-rong (¸"Tºa), the leader of Taiwan's delegation to the summit, in Johannesburg last week before coming home.  Yeh argued that the promotion of sustainable development should be a new dimension of Taiwan's international diplomacy.  High-ranking Taiwanese officials who observed activities at the summit told the Taipei Times that technology transfers should be at the top of the nation's diplomatic affairs agenda in the future, which would help broaden Taiwan's space in the international community.  National Science Council Vice Chairman Hsieh Ching-chih (Á²M§Ó) told the Taipei Times that existing academic exchanges of scientific research with other countries should be further promoted to practical levels, with knowledge and technology transferred to countries in need.  Public Construction Commission Vice Chairman Kuo Ching-chiang (³¢²M¦¿) told the Taipei Times that if Taiwan's contributions to poor countries in the technology sector were blocked because of the predicament it's in, then it would eventually cause losses for the whole world. "For example, we've fought against natural disasters for decades and eventually have come to acquire some precious experience that we can now share with those in need," Kuo said.


Taiwanese officials base their thinking on international trends. In developing countries, inadequate skills, limited access to technical information, ineffective institutional and regulatory frameworks, as well as organizational rigidities impede technical change and innovation.

Technology transfers, therefore, have been regarded by the world as a powerful tool to reduce poverty and to improve standards of living in developing countries.  Taiwanese officials argue that while technology cooperation can take many different forms, Taiwan can focus on engineering services, management services, technical services and assistance.  Many countries with environmental concerns argue that developing countries can actually leapfrog to the newest, most productive and environmentally sound technologies available without repeating the mistakes made by developed countries in the past.


Existing mechanisms function in the world to promote technology transfer from the North to the South.  For example, the Global Environment Facility's (GEF) Small Grants Program has helped to conserve biodiversity, reduce the risks of climate change, stop land degradation, and reduce water pollution.  Since 1991, the GEF has committed US$117.35 million, leveraging US$65.6 million from other partners, to national NGOs and community groups, directly involving them in addressing global environmental problems, according to the Earth Times on Sept. 4.  Administered by the UN Development Program (UNDP), the Small Grants Program has disbursed more than 3,000 small grants, up to US$50,000 each, for projects that reconcile global environmental benefits with sustainable livelihoods for local people, the report said.  In addition, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) uses technology cooperation to help developing countries and economies adjust to the marginalization of today's globalized world.  At the launch of the Technology Transfer Initiative held by the UNIDO in Johannesburg on Sept. 2, Carlos Magarinos, director-general of the UNIDO, stressed that sustainable industrial progress involves responding to this technological marginalization by applying technology transfers and management techniques at appropriate national, sector and enterprise levels.  Incorporating assistance from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the UNIDO has carried out a broad spectrum of projects, such as a cement plant in China, local farming in Brazil,  Guatemala and Kenya, micro-enterprises in South Africa and photovoltaic electrification in rural areas of the Philippines.  Attendees agreed that technology cooperation requires all cooperating parties to gain from the cooperation. Technology cooperation can be enhanced via business-to-business partnerships. Such cooperation is thought to be most successful in a commercial setting that involves beneficial cooperation between two companies.  In addition, cooperation with research institutions, local and national governments, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations strengthens the adaptation, diffusion and sustainable use of new technologies.  "If the institutional frameworks are lacking, technologies will never be utilized to their full potential, and to the full benefit of society," Bjorn  Stigson, president of the WBCSD, wrote in the forward of an introduction of Developing Countries and Technology Cooperation co-organized by it and the UNIDO.

Patricia Panting, environment minister for Honduras, said at the meeting that as a developing country, Honduras should be at the world summit to know what kind of international cooperation mechanisms were available that her country could benefit from.  After the meeting Panting told the Taipei Times that many existing environmental and sanitation problems Honduras suffers from could be attributed to a root cause: poverty.  Panting said two current major projects supported by UNIDO in her country were involved with the protection of the ozone layer and the control of pollution caused by dangerous chemicals.  Panting stressed that the Climate Convention makes clear that developing and industrialized countries have "common but differentiated" responsibilities to meet the Convention's goals. While the North has focused on common responsibilities, the South has focused on differentiated responsibilities.  "In addition to existing international cooperation mechanisms, such as the UN, Honduras still needs to work with others who are capable in offering technologies relating to agricultural development, sanitation improvement and environmental protection," Panting told the Taipei Times.  Although both the US and Japan are working on transfers of natural-disaster prevention technology to nations suffering from hurricanes, droughts and floods, Panting told the Taipei Times that other opportunities were welcome.  Eric Liou (1/4B"ÊÀs), secretary-general of the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation, told the Taipei Times that no one could deny the existence of Taiwan if the nation links itself closely to international trends. 


9 September 2002

J0HANNESBURG: At the beginning of the WSSD, which started here on August 26, negotiators from key summit groups were not agreed over critical parts of the implementation plan. The plan and the final political declaration are the most important statements to emerge from the Johannesburg Summit.  A day before the heads of state and government part of the summit ended here Tuesday, the WSSD general secretary, Nitin Desai, hailed it as a success because it came up with action plans and timeframes. He said these were missing in the Rio Earth Summit, which he described as more of a political statement, lacking on commitments he associates with the Johannesburg event.

But with so many parallel events going on alongside the main summit at Sandton Convention Centre, it was initially difficult to establish which areas in the implementation plan proposed on the weekend preceding the meeting, have been firmly agreed upon.

But very early in the negotiations, it became clear that United States and Australia were determined to block any agreements over renewable energy targets. Together with oil producing countries, they were eventually convinced to accept the targets. But only after extensive negotiations, which sometime went on until midnight, especially on the weekend preceding the arrival of the heads of state.

Some of the approved events, which for the first time, were part of the Earth Summit, and are credited with making the Johannesburg meeting a success, are the civil society's own summit on sustainable development. The civil society indaba was held at Nasrec near Soweto.  The big business lobby met at Gallagher Estate, where they tried to show the world how they plan to make their profits without ruining the environment. The water and sanitation issues, which have been identified as most central to the summit in addition to energy, bio-diversity, agriculture and health, were themselves hammered out at the Waterdome, in northern Johannesburg.

The Landless People's forum, which believes that there can be no sustainability when people remain landless, jobless and homeless, met at Shareworld. When they were not in meeting sessions at Shareworld, they slept in an open hall on foam mattresses in their day clothes. Unconfirmed estimates were that by the end of last week, more than 5,000 landless people from across South Africa and the world attended the Week of the Landless at Shareworld.  Those suffering 'summit fatigue', which is highly infectious, could go to the Ubuntu Village to see how culturally local level sustainable development could be incorporated into peoples' lives.  The various parallel meetings also demonstrated the key rivals at the Johannesburg summit on sustainable development: governments (filthily rich versus the dirt poor), environmental activists, the landless and homeless, those deprived political and religious rights in their countries, refugees, big business, small farmers, labour, agriculture and other interested NGOs. All these were here to lobby the main delegates and heads of state meeting at Sandton Convention Centre, to include their various causes and pleas, in the final implementation plan and political commitment emanating from the summit.  What Mmegi could glean from the fast moving summit and the swinging, soulful Johannesburg City itself, was that the most contentious issues were those on how to effectively be inclusive towards NGOs. The NGOs, are at the forefront and are most passionate about sustainable development - from the smallest village in Africa to the largest metropolis of the world.

Popular wisdom also had it that through globalisation and the refusal to sign some key implementation actions to stem rising global warming, the world's richest countries are the main culprits when it comes to using up the earth's resources, thus standing in the way of sustainable development.  Finance and trade issues to ensure that any goals agreed upon are actually implemented are yet another of a myriad of sticky issues that faced the summit. Following on quickly after these are targets and timeframes for the measures agreed upon.

It was a result of these disagreements that activists, at various stages of the summit negotiations, even went to the extent of accusing big business of hijacking the summit from its goal of curbing poverty without damaging the planet.  "The resources of Mother Earth are being sold off", said Anurandla Mittal of Food First.  Another area, which is also typical of UN-speak, was about the application of the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". Generally, this principle says countries, which have greater resources, should shoulder a larger share of responsibility to meet a goal.  Negotiators and key lobby groups, called "major groups" at the summit, also had to reach agreement on the principles of governance.  What also could not be lost to many journalists covering the summit was the absence of a coalition or deep divisions on different issues among and within the NGO groups and other activists themselves. For example, it was apparent that none of the industrial countries wanted the summit to be used to extract more finance or strong commitments from them (for example Japan, the European Union and the US). Most of these countries or their allies are saying that financing and trade issues should not be on the agenda.  Meanwhile, many a developing country complained that it is tariffs imposed on their imports by rich countries and farming subsidies in Europe and elsewhere, which are hampering sustainable development in their domains. Confronted with these arguments, developed countries themselves turned around and said that these issues were dealt with at the trade talks in Doha last year and at the United Nation's Financing for Development Conference in Mexico this year.  


The Daily News
8 September 2002

Justin Friesen, 11, spoke at last week's sustainable development summit in Johannesburg. Justin Friesen missed the first day of school last week, but that's OK: the 11-year-old from Halifax was busy addressing 6,000 delegates at the sustainable development summit in South Africa.  After that, 22 million people from around the world watched him at a news conference. Then, he took a couple of days off to do some kid stuff, such as visit a crocodile farm. "It was great," Justin said, though he admits, "I was a little nervous. If I wasn't, I likely wouldn't be normal." Justin ended up before thousands of delegates at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg last Monday, after he and a girl from Ecuador were elected by a United Nations children's conference in British Columbia last May. The two spoke on behalf of 400 children from more than 80 countries. Justin asked world leaders to ensure free access to clean drinking water for developing countries, free primary health care for children, and more money for the poor. He also asked them to ratify the Kyoto accord. In an interview from Johannesburg, Justin said he was thrilled Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced he will ask Parliament to ratify the climate accord before the end of the year, and even takes credit for the move. "He said he's willing to sign and ratify the Kyoto protocol, and I think it might be our fault." Justin said the pleas of children concerned about the future of the planet fall on more receptive ears than the same words spoken by adults. "If he doesn't sign it, I promise I'll be on his case for who knows how long." Justin's biggest regret is that U.S. President George W. Bush didn't attend the conference and won't ratify the accord, which requires developed countries to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2012. "Did you know that each week in the U.S. they throw out one billion aluminum cans? In a year, they could make 30,000 Boeing 737s." An avid environmentalist, Justin is also an actor and singer - he sings in the Halifax Boys Honours Choir - and is active in his school's anti-bullying program. He has interviewed Chretien and Stockwell Day for an environmental video, appeared in eight movies and two commercials and has his own Web site on preserving the environment. But he insists he's just another boy.  "I'm a normal kid, just getting more involved in environmental issues." Others could do the same, if they'd just commit themselves, he said. Brindle Peralta is Justin's agent at the Cassidy Group. "When I first met him I thought, 'That kid's going to Broadway.' He could do anything." She said he's mature, enthusiastic, talented and driven. But he's grounded, too, she said, thanks to two supportive parents who want their child to pursue his talents. "He's pushing them; they're not pushing him." Father Barry is an engineer with the provincial environment department, and mother Marjorie is a real-estate agent. Justin said his father is a mentor, teaching him as a youngster to take care of his world by picking up litter and gathering recycylables for pocket money.  His dad said it's the other way around: "I teach him the best I can, but I've learned more things by watching these children than I've taught them. He's really opened my eyes." Marjorie Friesen admits they cultivated their only child's love for the environment at a young age, each year planting his name with flower seeds in the soil. But she said they have not pushed Justin to become an activist, or to go before the camera. "I think parents should listen to the child and let them decide what they want to do. If you do that, they'll always excel. If you push them, you'll just turn them off and you'll be pushing them to live your dreams as a parent." Barry Friesen accompanied his son courtesy of the UN and said it was "very moving" to watch his child speak up for a healthier world. "I was very much in awe. As a parent, it's one thing, but also to know your child is representing all the children in the world - you're not just watching your child, but all children of the world." 


8 September 2002

They came. They talked. And weasled. And left No more summits are planned by the United Nations on environment and development until governments put into practice what they have decided to do. Instead of high-profile summits, the UN will set up an unprecedented operation to report on how governments are performing - naming and shaming those that do not do well - and campaigning for change. The move follows the disappointing Earth Summit in Johannesburg last week, which produced few new decisions. Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, said: "We do not need more big multilateral agenda-setting conferences, we need a real period of intensive implementation.'' President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela - speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 which represents all developing countries at the UN - added: "We have to have a radical change in the format of these summits. There is no proper dialogue.'' And Juan Somavia, the Chilean Director General of the International Labour Organisation, added: "Repeating the format does not necessarily advance the cause. At recent international conferences, a lot of energy has been put into stopping backsliding." The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has appointed Mark Malloch Brown - the Briton who heads the UN Development Programme - as "campaign manager and scorekeeper'' for the follow-up, to ensure that Johannesburg is not followed by a period of inaction as after previous summits. Mr Malloch Brown has begun to prepare a series of reports on developing countries to see how far they are matching a set of goals adopted at the Millennium Summit two years ago which would halve dire poverty in the world by 2015. The first reports on 15 countries will go to the UN General Assembly in October and these are now to be expanded to monitor every country in the developing world every year. UN agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will work with the governments involved to draw them up. ''I want to be able to tell the world how many kids are going to school, for example, in each country, and what the drop-out rates are,'' he says. "This is going to be a revolution in implementing decisions.'' He draws inspiration from the Rowntree report on poverty in York in the early years of the century which produced reforms by Churchill, Lloyd George and Beveridge, and which eventually led to the establishment of the welfare state in Britain. The new push - which is being funded by the Department for International Development, together with Norway and the Netherlands - will also have a campaigning team that will try to mobilise public opinion, particularly in rich countries. Mr Malloch Brown says he plans to draw on the success of the anti-landmine and anti-debt campaigns in drawing up his strategy. And the effort will be underpinned by an expert taskforce chaired by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who has been a partner of Bono in the pop star's successful attempt to persuade the Bush administration to increase aid.  


Associated Press
7 September 2002

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Ten years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, protesters scrambled up the city's 240-foot (73-meter) Christ the Redeemer statue this week and unfurled a banner questioning whether the environment has improved since then.  It's a question many are asking.  In the decade since Rio, many here contend that a chance has been squandered to make better progress on sweeping government promises to slow the world's ecological ravages.  The Greenpeace protesters acted Thursday as another Earth Summit concluded across the Atlantic in Johannesburg with few concrete commitments, and as the world's oil industry ended a four-day congress in Rio that was long on pledges to implement environmentally friendly practices.  But in Rio de Janeiro, 10 years after residents hosted that first famous Earth Summit, there is skepticism about what was accomplished in 1992, and also hope for what still can be done.

"The Earth Summit of '92? No I'm not satisfied and I don't think anyone else can be either," Leandro Miguel Cardoso said. "But that means it's time for everyone of us to do something."  The 42-year-old doctor spends free time finding ways to help the poor to free dental and medical care. That meant days spent on a smelly loading dock at the congress here, where volunteers plucked up 26 tons of plastic, paper and glass to be sold to recyclers.  The dlrs 3,000 he will fetch will go to dental checkups for 6,000 indigents.  Some in Rio, like the Greenpeace activists, say they are skeptical of big business' talk of adopting "sustainable development" plans that go easy on the environment.  "Greenwashing" they call it.  At the oil summit, Greenpeace's Benedict Southwick told reporters he was skeptical of oil company promises to find cleaner-burning fuels and alternative energy sources that reduce greenhouse gases.  "Why aren't these companies investing in, say, solar technology? That would show real leadership," he asked.  Detractors aside, some praised the first Earth summit for prodding individuals and companies to action.  Brazil's oil giant Petrobras has pumped millions of dollars into environmental projects. It even helped pay fishermen to pick up litter in mangrove swamps near their Guanabara Bay fishing grounds north of here.  The Rio summit led to sweeping treaties to fight global warming and protect species. But since then, the United States has tried to water down controls on air pollution, and environmentalists fume there has been little progress on other fronts. "Rio in 1992 was regarded as a milestone for improving the global environment," Guido Casanova said. "It was a good thing, but then in 1995 I didn't see more of this movement and no one was talking about it anymore."  Casanova is trying to replant forests in the "Rio de Janeiro Biodiversity Corridor," a 1,040-square-mile (2,694-square-kilometer) tract menaced by industry and logging.  "Sometimes I feel like Don Quixote fighting against windmills," he said. "You plant a tree and someone else is cutting them down."  


6 September 2002

The World Summit on Sustainable Development concluded this week after 10 days of intensive debate by adopting a series of measures to protect the environment while improving the lives of people living in poverty. More than 21,000 people attended the Summit, including 9,101 delegates, 8,227 NGO representatives, and 4,012 accredited media. According to the UN most countries expressed satisfaction at the result of the Summit, although they admitted that some, the European Union, and Latin America in particular were disappointed that the Summit had not managed to set a target for increasing the use of renewable energy. Many NGOs also expressed dissatisfaction that the Summit had not been bolder with its decision taking. The 'Plan of Implementation,' agreed in Johannesburg, nevertheless does set several targets and timetables for a number of initiatives dealing with water, energy, health, agriculture and bio-diversity. Whether that is sufficient 'to make sustainable development a reality' - a view expressed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the closing press conference - is a matter that will only become apparent over time.  Among the most significant of the targets to which governments have now agreed are those that seek to halve the proportion of people who lack access to clean water or proper sanitation and to work to increase access to modern energy services. Other targets set objectives aimed at protecting or restoring ecosystems, such as the restoration of fisheries by 2015, and the reversal of bio-diversity loss by 2010.  As part of its action-oriented theme, the Summit also saw the announcement of additional resources and new partnership initiatives to achieve practical results. More than 300 projects among governments, business and citizen groups, including more than 60 announced at the Summit itself, were submitted to the UN, along with more than $235 million in additional resources.  Despite the disappointment over energy the EU welcomed the results Summit calling them a success. The Commission also underlined Europe's determination to lead the way in turning the Summit's action plan into concrete results on the ground.  Danish Prime Minister and EU President Anders Fogh Rasmussen said: "I believe we can be satisfied with the result. We have agreed an action plan and a set of principles for sustainable development. We have concluded a global deal and partnership recommending free trade and increased market access, increased development assistance, a commitment to good governance and commitments to a better environment. The EU has played a leading role in this."  European Commission President Romano Prodi said: "We came to Johannesburg to launch a North-South pact which also encompasses the results of the Doha and Monterrey conferences. I welcome this relaunch of multilateralism which puts sustainable development firmly on the global agenda. Naturally we cannot be happy with everything we achieved but the results take us in the right direction. Reaching agreement is important but without implementation it means nothing. The EU will take the lead in implementing the outcome of Johannesburg because we are strongly committed to fighting poverty through trade and aid while protecting the environment. We owe it to the world to deliver."  The EU has consistently worked for an ambitious, realistic, action-orientated outcome with clear, measurable and time-bound targets directed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  The EU also welcomed the summit's acknowledgement that good governance was essential for sustainable development. Experience has shown that lack of democracy, openness and respect for human rights contributes to keeping countries in poverty, it said.  Climate change again played a prominent role in the summit with China, South Africa and Poland announcing their ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. There were also strong signals from Canada that it would ratify before the end of the year. Following an appeal by President Prodi to President Putin for Russia to ratify the Protocol so that it can enter into force, the Russia government has made a positive statement about its own ongoing ratification process.  Mr Rasmussen said: "The 1990s was the decade of mega-summits. We should make the next 10 years the decade of action. We must secure effective implementation through an effective monitoring mechanism. We should ask the UN General Assembly to monitor implementation of the Johannesburg targets and the Johannesburg agenda. We have the goals now the promises must be kept. We want results." 


International Herald Tribune
6 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG: In the end, the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development was just too complex. The ambitious project to increase development today and rescue the destitute from their plight without further damaging the Earth's environment for future generations ended with a sprawling document that had something for everyone but few specific promises. Many of those who invested so much in the conference - like President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa or Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations - hope that Johannesburg will be a wake-up call, a turning point for a world in crisis.  "The critical issue is what happens afterward," Mbeki said at the end of the 10-day conference. "What was agreed upon at Johannesburg should not be accepted as a ceiling. People are expected to go beyond what was agreed here."  Annan said it was the Earth Conference in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago that put the term sustainable development - meaning economic growth within the limits of the Earth's resources - on the agenda.  The difference at Johannesburg, Annan said, is that "this summit has instigated a global action among a wide range of actors. This summit makes sustainable development a reality. This summit will put us on a path that reduces poverty while protecting the environment, a path that works for all peoples, rich and poor, today and tomorrow."  Time will tell if Annan is correct, or whether the thousands of environmental activists and development activists who came to Johannesburg to campaign for their causes were right to despair that governments are capable of acting in anything else but narrow national interests.  Business Action for Sustainable Development, the corporate lobby at the summit meeting, welcomed "the growing realization that business is an indispensable part of the solution to the problems of the world" and said that the final document was a call to roll up sleeves and get down to work. Although the United States was assailed by environmental groups and less stridently by some delegations, it achieved its main aim at the meeting of keeping the emphasis on private investment rather than government aid to speed development. It also set out to avoid targets for renewable energy, but agreed to a target to halve by 2015 the number of people - more than 2 billion - with no access to clean water or sanitation.  If there was a difference between the Rio and the Johannesburg summit meetings, it was because the world had changed politically. "We had the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War," said Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of the UN Environment Program. "Today we have a new realism as a result of globalization. So the action plan, agreed here in Johannesburg, is less visionary and more workmanlike, reflecting perhaps the feeling among many nations that they no longer want to promise the earth and fail - that they would rather step forward than run too fast."  For Annan, one of the real triumphs of the summit meeting was that it went beyond political declarations to enshrine the concept of partnerships by and between governments, UN agencies, environmental and other nongovernmental groups, local authorities and, most importantly, private corporations.  This was a practical recognition of the fact that at a time of shrinking aid budgets, private investment and know-how is the only way to make development a reality for hundreds of millions of people mired in destitution.  But in the view of many activist groups, letting huge multinational corporations with annual sales greater than the gross domestic product of many nations into the development process without any regulation of their activities is as dangerous as letting a wolf into a sheep pen.  For Friends of the Earth and many like-minded organizations, the summit meeting was the triumph of globalization, of hard "neoliberal" values, of business as usual. Mbeki warned against economic Darwinism at the beginning of the conference. In the activists' view, it is already happening. "Citizens' rights have been replaced by corporate rights," said the Indian activist Vandana Shiva.  Or as President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela put it, "The unsustainable has become the sustainable" and the world is on the way to a dystopian future.  One thing seems certain. There may never be a conference like this again. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, currently president of the European Union, said he did not think such "megasummits" were the way to ensure implementation of critical environment and development tasks. "The 1990s was the decade of megasummits," he said. "I think we should make the next 10 years the years of action."  The EU fought hard to get the summit meeting to set targets on the development of renewable energy sources, but eventually lost in the face of fierce opposition from the United States and its oil interests allied with petroleum-producing nations that have no interest in seeing oil supplanted by cheap solar or wind power.  But the fact remains that energy produced by harnessing the sun or wind is still many times more expensive than electricity produced from carbon sources or nuclear plants, and will be until economies of scale bring the price down.  The EU argues that this will not happen unless targets are set, and it therefore announced that it would go its own way with like-minded countries to develop renewable energy according to a set timetable.  Another major shortcoming of the summit meeting, according to its critics, was its failure to go beyond a general sentiment to reduce trade-distorting energy and farm subsidies in the rich countries. Even the wealthy countries themselves recognize the subsidies are perverse, but it is an addiction they cannot shake for domestic political purposes.  Mbeki said the question of targets and timetables became important during the summit meeting because they would have been signposts for action.  But having made and broken so many promises at the Earth summit meeting in Rio, some say it was just as well that Johannesburg summit meeting did not erect another series of pledges to be broken.  "Why make promises you can't keep?" asked Donald Johnston, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - promises, for example, by rich countries to devote 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product to foreign aid.  The United States gives about 0.1 percent, or less than $11 billion compared with a $400 billion military budget. Rather than venturing into the realm of political unreality, "A steady increment in aid would be better," Johnston said.  


Hindustan Times
6 September 2002

Greenpeace activists scaled Rio de Janeiro's hill-top Christ statue on Thursday and hung a giant banner across its outstretched arms in protest at what they called the failure of South Africa's Earth Summit. "Rio+10 = a second chance?" read the bright yellow letters displayed on one of Brazil's most photographed attractions by activists dangling from ropes, one day after the international environment and development conference ended in Johannesburg. Green campaigners decried the outcome of the marathon Earth Summit, known as Rio+10 since it came a decade after the Brazilian city hosted a similar event. They called it a major let-down for the poor and the planet.
"What most outraged us was that 10 years ago here in Rio a seed of hope was planted for a change in attitude toward the environment and development," Frank Guggenheim, Greenpeace's chief executive in Brazil, said on Thursday. "The Johannesburg summit ended and a second chance to do something was lost, like to establish targets, implementation times or energy resources to be used in the future," he said.


News India

6 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG: Environmental conservation group Greenpeace used a photo exhibition depicting the suffering of Bhopal's gas tragedy victims to promote its cause at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) here.  The exhibition, by Indian photographer Raghu Rai, drew a lot of interest from delegates to the Earth Summit, which was on till Sept. 4.  Around 8,000 people died within three days in Bhopal when a Union Carbide plant there leaked a deadly gas 18 years ago.  More than 150,000 others are reportedly still affected, with women who were children or teenagers then having severe reproductive health problems now. Babies have also been born with missing limbs, lips and even noses.  Activists from Bhopal have been very visible at WSSD, with one, Rashida Bee, carrying around a broom that she hopes to hand over to the head of Dow Chemicals at the summit as a symbolic gesture of the 'Jharoo Maro Dow,' or 'hit Dow with a broom,' campaign launched earlier this month in Bhopal.  She was joined by Satinath Sarangi, who was so moved by the Bhopal deaths that he gave up his studies at Benaras University to go and help there as a volunteer. He ended up establishing the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal.  Dow Chemicals, which took over Union Carbide's assets, but has refused liability to Bhopal's victims, is being asked to sweep up the mess left by Union Carbide.  Using Bhopal as an example, Greenpeace said here many corporations were acting in such bad faith that their actions could even be seen as "criminal".  "More than any other corporate-induced disaster, Bhopal highlights the failure of corporations to observe basic standards of humanity," said a statement. "It also reflects the humiliating failure of governments to protect and uphold public welfare against corporate transgressions."  Bhopal activists have been giving delegates at WSSD red armbands to wear in support of the victims. They are also undertook a series of public speaking events in and outside the summit.  Rashida Bee, who lost most of her family in the gas leak that killed hundreds that very night, also took part in the Global Peoples Forum to run parallel with the 10-day summit.  Her weathered features show the battle Bee has waged for years in an attempt to get justice for the victims of the Bhopal tragedy, the world's worst industrial disaster.  Union Carbide owned the Bhopal pesticide plant, which is said to have emitted several tons of lethal methyl iso-cyanate (MIC) gas in the heart of the central Indian city on the night of Dec. 2-3, killing about 1,750 people instantly.  According to reports, the death toll has since climbed to several thousands and left many more maimed for life. Activists said the victims have not been adequately compensated for their suffering.  "Now 18 years later, we are still finding children being born without lips, noses or ears. Sometimes complete hands are missing, and women have severe reproductive problems. The result is that women are discriminated against through no fault of their own," Rashida Bee told a gathering at the Brixton mosque here after  She emphasized they are not looking for South African and world support through financial contributions only, but also for moral support to strengthen their case against Dow Chemicals.  "On August 15 we launched the 'Jaroo Maro Dow' campaign in India. This is to remind Dow Chemicals that it has a lot of mess to clean up in Bhopal. It has to clean up the contamination," said Bee.  "We want to hand over this broom to Bill Stavrapoulus, president of Dow, who is expected to play a major role at the Earth summit through his involvement in the World Business Council on Sustainable Development."  Bee also addressed a gathering attended by a number of delegates from all over the world who have arrived here to participate in the Global People's Forum.  Sarangi explained how the clinic faced tremendous difficulties because Union Carbide would not release the findings of research studies into the gas leak and its effects.  "It has done many tests that remain unpublished on the claim that they are trade secrets. Because of that there is no treatment, except for irrational drugs being used in Bhopal.  "We are trying non-drug therapies like yoga and ayurveda, which we are finding very effective. We are using a combination of modern medicine with it while we undertake the research that has been abandoned by everyone, including the Indian government."  Sarangi said girls affected as teenagers in 1984 were now experiencing a range of reproductive health problems, including menopause coming in as early as 25 or 30.  


BuaNews (Pretoria)
5 September 2002

President Thabo Mbeki has hailed the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), saying it has met the continent's expectations.

'It was important that the Summit had reached an agreement... and came out in a forthright manner with regard to poverty relief,' he said, adding that for Africans 'these were issues of life and death'. The President was addressing the media on the last day of the Summit in Johannesburg, last night. He said Africa stood at the centre of what had been deliberated upon for the past two weeks.

However, President Mbeki, who is also President of the Summit, acknowledged that the Summit might not have fulfilled everyone's expectations but stressed the need for implementation of the agreements reached. 'The agreements reached at this Summit should not be a ceiling... and a firm platform has been set for action by all stakeholders, from governments to the private sector to the civil society.' 'But,' he continued, 'the fact that indeed the conference came out as strongly and clearly as it did was good.' Yesterday, more than a hundred leaders adopted a political declaration committing leaders to eradicating poverty and saving the planet. They also endorsed a plan of action that sought to intensify the fight against what President Mbeki branded a 'global apartheid'. It seeks to cement the Millennium Declaration goals that set out to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015. In the plan, countries pledged to halve the number of people without clean water and adequate sanitation by 2015, curb the loss of biodiversity by 2010, to secure the safe use of chemicals by 2020 and to restore fish stocks by 2015. On renewable energy, which had been a thorny issue throughout the Summit, it was agreed that the utilisation of the sources thereof, such as solar energy and wind power, be increased. Furthermore, President Mbeki said it was imperative that multilateralism be maintained, saying it was wrong to think collectively and then act individually. He said it was important that leaders listened to the children and the youth, who had insisted on an action oriented outcome of the Summit. 'They say they are tired of the brackets and the commas that are being argued upon. They are saying we should act now!' he implored. 


Zambian News Agency
5 September 2002

Lusaka , September 5 ,ZANA -The United States (US) has pledged to harness science and technology by increasing funding to African Farmers from $30.5 million to $53 million in the next Fiscal year in a bid to end hunger in the continent. The US has also pledged to increase the investment to African Small Farmers by two thirds, from $25 million to $37 million so as to unleash the power of marketing and also to empower the farmers in key countries and regions.  According to the latest Washington line publication report on the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) this will be achieved by increasing their access to both new technologies and markets.

The US says that the initial goal of increasing funding to the African farmers is to double production of basic food crops that make up African diets and to increase family incomes.  In order to gear Science and Technology for Africa Agriculture, the US will provide technology that will bring more Nutritious, higher yielding and stress-resistant varieties of staple crops such as cassava, cow-pea, banana, sorghum and Maize, along with more productive livestock.  To reach this goal, the publication says the US would expand the Technology Applications for Rural Growth and Economic Transformation (TARGET) program to improve farmers' management of crops, soils, Livestock and Natural resources.  It will increase investment in long term-collaborative research with the Consultative group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) and US Universities to improve drought, disease and pest resistance in banana and plantains, in addition to ongoing work on maize, cassava, cow pea and rice.  It further states that the US would invest in regional and national research program enhancements in the three target regions to improve seed and processing technologies for sorghum, rice, beans, root crop such as Irish and sweet potatoes and vegetables.  In providing access to tools of modern biotechnology, the US has pledged through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)'s new Collaborative Agricultural Biotechnology (CABIO) initiative, to initially invest in additional research on improved varieties of maize, cassava, banana, cow-pea.  On unleashing the power of market for Africa's Small Farmers, the publication indicates that the US has pledged to concetrate its efforts on agriculture policy reforms, regional integration, agricultural trade infrastructure, information system and agricultural trade capacity building.  The Washington Line states that under the Agricultural policy reform and regional integration the US has pledged to fund programmes, which will be oriented towards rural communities and small holding products.  These programmes will include improving regional agricultural policy networks that strategically analyse policy impediments to greater production and marketing efficiencies in the agricultural and transportation sector of respective countries. 


5 September 2002

Masoumeh Ebtekar, the first female Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a woman on a mission to ensure that policies adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) see the light of day in concrete implementation policies around the world.  Iran, a country with myriad problems emanating in part from the legacy of an eight-year war, which crippled the economy and led to international isolation, is struggling to restore its own environment. Ebtekar is optimistic that initiatives ranging from the clean-up and preservation of the Caspian Sea, the improved management of petrochemical sources and the clean-up of the highly-polluted air in Tehran, will restore health and environmental balance to Iran's most vulnerable resources.  Iran's welfare system has been praised for delivering services to all sectors of the community. "More than 95% of Iranians has access to sanitation and clean water. Primary health care is free, we don't have malnutrition except for certain rural parts of the country. Government has been successful in broadening the welfare network." While Iran is a major producer and exporter of petroleum products it has been accused of wastage and poor management, factors which threaten the supply of this natural resource. Ebtekar however, says: "The country's petroleum industry has had a shift in the direction of implementing environmental standards. Our fuel is heavily subsidised, that is an important challenge to resolve.  "We do have plans to optimise energy consumption in Iran which may lead to a cut in subsidies. We are engaged in improving housing standards so we consume less energy. We also have another important achievement, in that the country's major refineries and petrochemical industries, which traditionally are considered the most polluting, have attained high monitoring standards, adopted by eight refineries and nine petrochemical complexes.

 "We have national standards for our emissions, as well as effluents and these industries comply with those standards. In the past five years the government has invested heavily on compliance with environmental standards. It is difficult for a developing country though, especially with the kind of economic pressure we face. The over-exploitation of the Caspian sea has been an environmental concern. "Specifically regarding the Caspian, it is facing different pressure from different sides, the pollutants entering the sea, both urban and industrial. In Iran it is being monitored. We have sewerage projects going on in all cities, restructuring the infrastructure for waste disposal. The other issue of over-fishing and protecting the ecology of the Caspian has been a point of concern. We have breeding projects for the sturgeon and protecting endangered fish. We have the issue of oil contamination and exploitation. Recently we adopted a convention on the Caspian, the first legal mechanism for the protection of the environment, and hopefully we will have a signing ceremony soon. The outdated trucks, buses and cars, in Tehran, the capital, have damaged the air quality to an extent that on certain days, the aged and young are encouraged to stay at home, when pollution levels reach dangerously high levels. Ebtekar is optimistic that progress has been made, and that new standards in place to reduce pollution and restore fresh air supplies. "We have plans to combat air pollution in Tehran and government has invested heavily in this regard. Lead has been totally removed, we only use unleaded petrol. The diesel content in Tehran has been lessened, and we are beginning to impose fines. Also a national regulatory system is in place for the auto industry. We have a policy of using natural gas, CNG, in the public transport system not only for Tehran but other cities too. We have a large fleet of obsolete cars which we need to replace but that is a challenge, as it goes hand in hand with unemployment."


The withdrawal of countries like the US from international protocols like Kyoto, are a concern: "Each member of the global community has to play a committed and responsible role in allowing the world to benefit from those resources. Their behaviour is weakening the cause of multilateralism today." The South African Government and that of Iran, are keen to maintain strong bilateral ties and in this regard have established cooperation on issues relating to the environment. Mohammed Valli Moosa, South Africa's Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, signed a memorandum of understanding with Ebtekar, on behalf of Iran.  Both countries will exchange views on environmental issues such as, among others, climate change, the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, the conservation and sustainable management of forests and other natural resources, desertification, ocean protection and the sound management of hazardous wastes and toxic substances.  


The Financial Gazette
5 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG -They flew around the world in pollution-spewing jets, ate expensive food in Africa where many go hungry, and worked out a plan to "Save the Planet". But experts say a blueprint close to agreement by the widely maligned negotiators from about 190 nations at Johannesburg's Earth Summit this week will not radically change the world. It may however, help a bit.  Negotiators are aiming to help halve poverty by 2015 by promoting environmentally friendly economic growth which does not repeat the polluting mistakes caused by 200 years of industrialisation in the rich West.  A dispute over women's human rights was the only outstanding hitch this week on the summit's penultimate day.  But many delegates reckon the worthy new targets set in Johannesburg, such as halving the proportion of people without sanitation or restoring depleted fish stocks by 2015, will fail to be fully implemented.  "End of term report - Not satisfactory: must do better" was environmental group Friends of the Earth's verdict of the August 26-September 4 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

From presidents to prime ministers, leaders said the key now would be to implement the deals, brushing aside criticisms of a gargantuan text which includes few pledges of new cash to help the developing world.  And many criticised it as hot air, reckoning some limited new targets, including on improving chemicals production by 2020 to protect human health, were too vague.  In some key areas it lacks targets, such as on promoting clean energy like wind and solar power.  "Spend more money on helping the poor people and children around the world rather than attending too many meetings," Analiz Vergara, a 14-year-old girl from Ecuador told world leaders. "Remember we cannot buy another planet."  Even politicians are sceptical that summits with an agenda spanning water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity as part of an assault on poverty can achieve much.  "We deal with everything and there is a risk at the end of the day that it means nothing," said Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose country holds the European Union's rotating presidency. He urged action to implement the plan.  But UN goals agreed by world leaders in 2000, including halving poverty by 2015, are already lagging in many nations. About 1.2 billion people, or a fifth of humanity, live on less than a dollar a day.  The United Nations says the problems could probably all be fixed if rich nations gave more aid. Handouts now total about US$54 billion a year - or about US$67 per person from rich nations.  Many agreements from a landmark first Earth Summit 10 years ago in Rio de Janeiro have not been properly followed up - notably a deal to curb global warming which has been undermined by a 2001 pullout by US President George W Bush.  But others say the very fact that world leaders can sit down together - something unthinkable during the Cold War - to address issues of poverty or pollution is a giant leap forward from the world's former East-West divide.  Eric Phillips, a Guyana delegate, said: "You cannot measure the value of this summit by the documents it produces. There is a lot of discussion, a lot of negotiation, a lot of friendships are made."  That is, many say, a modest step. Yet big strides have been made - average life expectancy has jumped worldwide by more than six years to 66.6 since the 1970s. Child mortality and poverty have also been cut.  Still, even delegates in Johannesburg have not been pulling their weight. A fund set up with UN backing to help foster environmental projects to offset the pollution caused by delegates flying around the world to attend the summit and polluting the city has attracted scant donations.  Organisers estimate they had received donations to counter 15 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. It estimates the summit will produce 300 000 tonnes.  Delegates have been widely criticised for driving around in luxury cars or eating sumptuous meals in a gleaming part of Johannesburg just eight km (five miles) from some of South Africa's worst slums.  "Even though a lot of people in Bombay say 'oh, you just want to travel to an international conference and talk a lot', talking is important," said Rishi Aggarwal, co-founder of the Mangrove Society of India.  "Maybe this will be seen as an historic event five years down the road," he said.  But many wonder if the money could be better spent.  "This summit and all the preparations probably cost the world a billion dollars: it would have been better spent buying 500 million solar cookers," said Deling Wang, head of the non-governmental organisations' energy caucus.  She said the US$2 solar cookers - silver reflectors mounted on cardboard - could save 500 million Third World families from foraging for a tonne of firewood a year and prevent millions of cases of smoke-related diseases from fires.  


5 September 2002

There has been a mixed reaction from around the globe to the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. While some papers are scathing in their criticism, others hold on to a glimmer of hope.


[The poorer countries] do not believe that the resolutions adopted will free them from misery and save the planet from self-destruction
Mexico's La Jornada

Brazil's O Globo says the summit was marked by a "general feeling of frustration", and that the main document it produced - the Implementation Plan - "was seen by environmentalists as a sheaf of UN archive papers without new goals or the force of law".  La Jornada of Mexico agrees that the mood at the end of the summit was one of frustration, especially as far as the poorer countries were concerned.  They "do not believe that the resolutions adopted will free them from misery and save the planet from self-destruction," the paper says.

India's Hindustan Times too reacts despondently. "The plan that eventually emerged doesn't appear to hold much promise for the poor," it says, as it fails to tackle the mounting world population. However, The Indian Express says the country could learn from the summit's emphasis on water management. "If Johannesburg can prompt a rethink in national priorities even in the handling of this one resource, it would have served a purpose," it says.


[World leaders] failed to reach a consensus on how serious the problems really are, how to solve them and at whose expense.

Pakistan. The newspaper Pakistan calls for action rather than words on the part of world leaders. There is a "gulf between their words and deeds," the paper says. It calls for "practical steps based on ground realities". Once again, world leaders "failed to reach a consensus on how serious the problems really are, how to solve them and at whose expense," it says. South Korea's Korea Herald says the summit resolution "appeared rather long on good resolutions but short on specific targets and timetables".


The United Arab Emirates' Al-Bayan says there have been so many summits that "lead to nothing". But it clings to the hope that the "honourable voices" among the summit's delegates will make this summit different.  The London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat strikes one of the most upbeat notes. "It is quite hard to believe that the results (of the summit) are contrary to what has been expected," it says. The meeting has "to some extent been a success," it says.  But Libya's Al-Shams comes down hard on those it regards as responsible for polluting the environment, exploiting the poor, creating ecological disasters, and demanding liberalisation of trade while protecting their own products. They "should be tried because they are more dangerous than al-Qaeda," it says.


France's Le Monde criticises the summit for a lack of "clear and measurable" results and describes it as an "over-ambitious and insufficiently focused UN jamboree".  But the paper does welcome the presence of the multinational companies. Such enterprises, it explains, "often yield more power than actual nation states" and "cannot be ignored". You can hardly expect anything else from the great UN 'contraptions' than a catalogue of good intentions passed through the mill of inter-state negotiations

France's Liberation. Liberation says it had in any case had low expectations of the summit. But at least it will have served to emphasise the need for international cooperation - something the US is in danger of neglecting, the paper adds.

In Germany, Sueddeutsche Zeitung doubts whether the summit's action programme is worthy of its name. The paper finds "particularly annoying" the "absence of a concrete target for the use of renewable energy". It concedes that the agreement on water and sanitation was undoubtedly valuable, but fears that there will be no change in overall trends.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Italy's La Repubblica agrees that "in its 70 pages the Action Plan has many declarations and good suggestions, but very few deadlines and precise obligations." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is contemptuous of the results but sees no other way. "There is no alternative to struggling for better solutions at such summits," it says. "The meagre outcome of Johannesburg does nothing to change this."

Progress "minimal"

Spain's El Pais is scathing in its condemnation. "If we want to leave to the coming generations not even a better planet, but merely an inhabitable planet, we will have to go much further than the paltry results achieved," it says. The summit, it says, made "minimal" progress, merely highlighting once again the problems that remain to be resolved.

Resolution "short on specifics" - Korea Herald

El Mundo is slightly more optimistic. "It seems easy to make a negative assessment", it says.

While "none of the initial expectations have been met," it says, nevertheless "some limited progress has been made".

"The Johannesburg fiasco has shown that some states want to head in the right direction," it adds.

France's Le Figaro too cautions against an overly-critical attitude to the summit.

"It is easy to be cynical," it says and draws comfort from the emphasis given to environmental issues. "The main thing is that Europe seems prepared, with France, to champion a new North-South dialogue on the environment," it says. Kyoto The money wasted in Johannesburg would be enough for several poverty alleviation programmes.
Ukrayina Moloda

Russia's Trud is upbeat about the summit's outcome. The paper welcomes Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's announcement that Russia would ratify the Kyoto Protocol "in the very near future". "This means that the document can come into force even without the participation of the USA," it says. But Ukraine's Ukrayina Moloda is less impressed. It criticises the large number of delegates at the conference, which it says put the cost of the summit at $65m. "The money wasted in Johannesburg would be enough for several poverty alleviation programmes," the paper says.


In Africa, Kenya's Daily Nation focuses on what it describes as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's "furious diatribe" against UK Prime Minister Tony Blair during the summit. "The time is long gone," it says, when African leaders could "wish away their own shortcomings by blaming colonialists. They must be held accountable for the ills they themselves have created." [Powell's] bid to blame Zimbabwe for the prevailing food crisis yesterday backfired 

Zimbabwe's The Herald. South Africa's The Star says it is worrying how "enthusiastically" Mr Mugabe's speech was applauded by some delegates. And it says the South African government should take this as a warning and speed up the pace of land reform. Zimbabwe's The Herald turns its attention to US Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech that met with protest from many delegates. His "bid to blame Zimbabwe for the prevailing food crisis yesterday backfired when he was booed and jeered by delegates," the paper says. And Zimbabwe's independently-owned Financial Gazette says "hired thugs" once again showcased "Zimbabwe's madness" at a world forum. When a country's leaders "become preoccupied with organising such useless protests... you should know that that country is doomed," it says. 


Planet Ark
5 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG - The Pacific island state of Palau branded the Earth Summit a disappointment in fighting global warming this week, saying climate change was a growing threat to its people and myriad rare species. But tiny Palau in the western Pacific, which says it has more species of wildlife by area than any other nation, said it would not join the Pacific state of Tuvalu in a planned lawsuit blaming the United States for rising temperatures.  Palau says it has 1,400 different types of fish in its waters. Other creatures include rare green turtles, salt-water crocodiles and giant clams that can weigh up to two tonnes. "We're putting our hopes in the international community coming to its senses," President Tommy Remengesau told Reuters of climate change threatening a necklace of 200 islands making up Palau. "For island states it's a matter of life and death," he said of scientists' warnings that polar icecaps could melt and swamp low-lying states. "For us it's not just sustainability, it's survival." Palau has a population of about 19,000. He said there would be "a lot of disappointment" in nations like Palau after the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which ends yesterday and barely touched on global warming.  U.S. President George W. Bush has pulled out of the 1997 Kyoto pact, under which developed nations agreed to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases produced mainly by cars, homes and factories burning oil and other fossil fuels.  Scientists say the gases are trapping heat in the atmosphere and boosting temperatures. Many islands in Palau could be swamped by rising sea levels.  Remengesau said that global warming was leading to more extreme weather, including a surge in sea temperature in 1997 that bleached about 80 percent of coral reefs.  Storms were also carrying salt water onto farmland and threatening wildlife. 


The Guardian
5 September 2002

Dismay over the weakness of the final outcome of the earth summit spilled over into the final plenary session of the conference yesterday when an EU delegation led an orchestrated protest over lack of targets for increasing renewable energy production across the world.  The leaders of more than 30 government delegations pledged to go further than the summit declaration on increasing the share of renewable energy as part of the global energy supply.  The countries concerned agreed to a regular review of progress, on the basis of clear and ambitious targets at a national, regional and "hopefully at a global level".  "Such targets are important tools to guide investment and develop the market for renewable energy technologies," their statement said.  Support for the proposal came from all 15 EU states, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, Brazil, Argentina, Uganda, Mexico and other Latin American states, plus some Caribbean and Pacific islands.   The US isolation on the issue of climate change was further underlined when its only remaining ally on the issue, Australia, shifted ground yesterday. The prime minister, John Howard - who had previously insisted Australia would not ratify the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - said he would now reconsider, "whether America has signed it or not".  One other last-minute change which particularly pleased the leader of the UK delegation, the environment secretary Margaret Beckett, was the reinstatement of a clause on human rights which had been resisted by the US, the Vatican and Islamic states - a rare combination. The clause had omitted the rights of women to contraception and abortion, and asserted the superiority of local cultural and religious values.  The objection from the US was removed when it was pointed out that the clause would give tacit approval to widely condemned local traditions such as genital mutilation.  "This is an extremely good outcome," Mrs Beckett said. "This could have set the clock back. This is a hugely important issue because it would have allowed such practices as genital mutilation, which are wholly unacceptable. I am very pleased about this outcome on another crucial issue." Meanwhile, an attempt by the US to water down provisions on corporate accountability and regulation was rejected, after objections by Ethiopia and Norway.  The US was reduced to writing a letter to the conference chairman, the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, to state its position that there should be no new rules in this area.  Wrangling continued into the evening - but was finally agreed - on the final political text for the summit, originally written by Mr Mbeki, which was also tough in the area of corporate accountability.  This was seen as a victory for environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, which had made controlling the power of multinationals one of its main campaigns. Reflecting the continued fears for the future of the weaker developing nations, the text stated: "The deep fault lines that divide human society between the rich and poor and the ever-increasing gap between the developed and developing worlds pose a major threat to global prosperity, security and stability.  "The adverse effects of climate change are already evident, natural disasters are more frequent and more devastating, and developing countries more vulnerable, and air, water and marine pollution continue to rob millions of a decent life." The statement said that globalisation had added to these challenges. The benefits and costs were unevenly distributed, with developing countries facing special difficulties.  "We risk the entrenchment of these global disparities," it said. "Unless we act in a manner that fundamentally changes their lives, the poor of the world may lose confidence in their representatives and the democratic systems to which we remain committed."  However, environment and development groups at the summit remained angry that so few targets and timetables for action had reached the final text.  A group of 50 American pressure groups attending the summit put out a statement saying: "We disassociate ourselves from the Bush administration's positions and role at the summit."  Disappointment was not confined to pressure groups. Jan Pronk, the special envoy to the summit of the UN secretary general Kofi Annan, said: "We have had a narrow escape. The outcome is better than we feared, but much less than we needed.  "There is a huge gulf between those inside the hall and people's expectations. We have to look at a better way of managing these things. It all could so easily have fallen apart."  


Associated Press
5 September 2002

NAIROBI, Kenya - Poor countries' should focus on more than just getting rich countries to remove agricultural subsidies and work on other trade issues as well, the World Trade Organization's top official said Thursday.  Supachai Panitchpakdi, the organization's director-general, told a news conference that many more issues were equally important, like making AIDs drugs more affordable.  "I would make the best effort to keep them all on the agenda without losing sight of the fact that when developing countries are moving ahead, that developed countries also will make appropriate gains," Supachai said.  Panitchpakdi, who began work on Sept. 1, arrived in Kenya for a three-day visit during which he will meet with government officials and visit the WTO's training program for English-speaking African trade negotiators, which it runs together with the University of Nairobi.  Supachai, who flew in from Johannesburg, South Africa where he attended the World Summit on Sustainable Development, said that trade negotiators and environmentalists didn't have to be in opposition to each other and their work could be "mutually enforcing."  


Associated Press
5 September 2002

About 331 tons of solid waste and 290,000 tons of carbon dioxide were produced during the ten days of the world's largest ever-environmental summit, organizers said Thursday.  Even though a local project tried to mitigate the environmental impact of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which ended Wednesday, only 23 percent of waste was recycled.  Organizers only raised a fraction of the money they were seeking to invest in renewable projects to help offset the amount of waste and energy used during the summit, The South African Press Association reported.  But local officials said that more recycling took place during the summit than usually occurs in the Johannesburg area.  Recycling bins were posted at most summit venues and would now continue to be used in an inner city cleanup project in Johannesburg. The city generates about 40 percent of South Africa's waste.  Two hundred new buses with new emission control technology used for summit transport will now become part of Johannesburg's bus fleet, city officials said.  


5 September 2002

Improving farming productivity without damaging the environment was one of the key challenges of the World Summit. The agricultural sector links many other vital issues like water, poverty, hunger and health. Subsidies to farmers in rich countries dominated most of the discussions and remains far from resolved. The gap between the rich and the poor is perhaps no more evident than in the farming sector. Highly subsidised farmers from Europe and the US reap the benefits. The existing trade distortion leads to their subsidised crops dumped on the world market well below the cost of production. Trade barriers, which hurt agricultural exports from poorer nations. The subsidies are estimated to be worth $300 billion a year five times that of the total aid to the developing world. The vast majority of farm families are among the poorest people on earth. It is estimated that more than 800 million people are undernourished. Agriculture is responsible for many environmental problems as it contributes to global warming and the spread of toxic chemicals. The challenge is to find a way to increase farming productivity without damage to the environment. One of the main debates in the sector centred around the ecological approach to food production as opposed to farming models dependent on chemical inputs. Because of the focus on specialised farms crops have become less diverse. A number of agro-ecological projects were showcased. It has recognised that without radical changes to farming methods food production will be at odds with the goals of alleviating property. The developing world wants farming subsidies reduced.

At Doha in Qatar, it was agreed at ministerial level that there was a need for trade reforms and subsidies within a set time frame. This years' summit has taken discussions on this to a higher level and reaffirmed the same goals. Countries in the European Union and the US however did not see eye to eye. The US stuck to its guns on time frames for subsidy reduction. In the end no time frames for the reduction or phasing out of subsidies were set. The overuse of farmland remains a threat to the environment when farmers are forced to strip wetlands, forests and grasslands. In Sub-Saharan Africa about 13 million people are in need of food aid. This opened up debate at the summit on genetically modified or GM food. Zambia and more recently Zimbabwe have refused to accept thousands of tonnes of GM maize from the US. Africa is supported by the European Union, which has also banned the import of GM food, but the UN says GM food is safe but will not prescribe to nations. Influential aid and watchdog organisations have called for a change in international monetary policy to better assist farmers. 


International Herald Tribune
5 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG: The UN World Summit on Sustainable Development ended Wednesday amid complaints by environmentalists that it had accomplished nothing and claims by political leaders that it set the scene for an ambitious program to cut poverty and clean up the environment.  Activists jeered the U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, as he defended the Bush administration's record on the environment. But Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, said he was satisfied that the summit had created "political commitment, momentum and energy" and had produced "an impressive range of concrete policies and actions."  After a series of preparatory meetings, and 10 days and nights of negotiations here, delegates succeeded in wrestling a sprawling agenda into a 65-page plan of action that was held up until the last minute by conservative interests, including the United States and the Vatican, that fought unsuccessfully to exclude a phrase linking the provision of health care services to human rights, on the grounds it would condone abortion.  Most of the U.S. environmental, development and women's groups at the summit issued a statement stating that they were "ashamed at the role the Bush administration has played at this major effort to deal with the most pressing issues facing our planet."  Among the black spots cited by the activists were the lack of any targets or timetables for renewable energy, the failure to deal effectively with the issue of farm subsidies by rich countries, and the absence of an international code to regulate the activities of multilateral corporations.  The Energy and Climate Caucus, a coalition formed by several nongovernmental organizations, said that the lack of timetables in the past had led to huge and increasing subsidies for oil and nuclear interests in the industrialized countries.  "It seems that the world leaders are only playing a game, instead of taking the world's problems seriously," the caucus said. "But we are running out of time; we cannot afford any more to accept weak, meaningless texts."  The European Union said it was prepared to adopt targets for renewable energy in collaboration with like-minded countries after it tried and failed to get this condition written into the action plan. The United States managed to remove any reference to targets in collaboration with oil-producing nations and poor countries that put development ahead of the environment.  But the European commissioner for the environment, Margot Wallstroem, said, "You cannot say that from now on the whole sustainable development issue is marginalized. It is there and we have a document to work on."  Some nongovernmental organizations from the poor countries attacked the call for renewable energy by environmental groups in the rich countries. The Sustainable Development Network said that for the poor who subsist on heat from wood and dung, "their quality of life would be drastically improved by any form of cleaner energy - including gas, coal, hydro, oil and nuclear, which are far cheaper than solar and wind power in nearly all contexts and become cheaper as demand increases."  The United States also vigorously championed various kinds of partnership between private corporations and other interested parties such as governments, UN agencies or even environmental organizations.  Delegates agreed, as Annan said, that "business is part of the solution" in achieving environmentally friendly development. Powell said that the private sector, not government, holds the vast majority of resources available to help poorer nations. He said he would encourage developing countries to assure potential investors that in their countries, "the money will be used properly, it will be protected by the rule of law, and it will go to the benefit of the people."  Business Action for Sustainable Development, the corporate lobby at the summit, welcomed "the growing realization that business is an indispensable part of the solution to the problems of the world."  Deborah James of the California activist group Global Exchange, one of the protesters during Powell's speech, said the U.S. administration "ought to represent all the people of the United States, not just big business."  Many of the activists and some of the governments attacked the "neoliberal" globalizing trade agenda that they said the summit was imposing on the world. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela said the summit was an attempt to "make the unsustainable sustainable." He said the model of development imposed by the rich countries was the real cause of the world's woes.  The summit meeting, a follow-up to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago, aimed to reconcile the demands of the poor without destroying the environment for future generations.  In a political declaration due to be approved at the end of the summit, governments pledged "to implement a global sustainable development program that gives absolute priority to bridging the deep fault lines that divide human society into the rich and the poor."  They also agreed "to protect and restore the integrity of our planet's ecological system, with special emphasis on preserving biological diversity."  Several activist groups walked out of the conference in protest. "Citizens' rights have been replaced by corporate rights," said the Indian activist Vandana Shiva.  Later, protesters heckled and clapped their hands slowly, and a security guard dragged at least five of them from the plenary chamber as Powell sought to assert the U.S. government's commitment to the environment.  "We are committed not just to rhetoric and to various goals, we are committed to a billion-dollar program to develop and deploy advanced technologies to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions," Powell said, to loud jeers.  The demonstrators unfurled a banner that read "Bush: People and Planet, not big business," and chanted "Shame on Bush."  The United States has come under intense criticism here for its failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which will enter into force this year.  Summing up the conference, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa said, "The critical issue is what happens afterwards. That is why discussions about targets and so on became so important."  While he said it was obvious that not everyone would be happy with the conclusion, given the high expectations that preceded the summit, "What has been agreed in Johannesburg should not be accepted as a ceiling. People are expected to go beyond what was agreed."  


5 September 2002


The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg has ended with a political declaration and a Plan of Implementation full of good intentions.


The UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) took place in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002. The "Earth Summit II" or "Rio+10" summit (10 years after the Rio Earth Summit) had to take stock of progress made since 1992 on the issues of global sustainable development and to give a new impetus to the process.


The Johannesburg Summit ended on a negative tone, when US Secretary of State Colin Powell was booed by delegates protesting the US' record on environment. The Summit managed to endorse the proposed political declaration ("the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development") and a 65-page Action Plan full of pledges but lacking concrete targets and deadlines.

The main promises of the Summit are:

  • halving the number of people lacking access to basic sanitation by 2015;

  • minimising the harmful effects on health and the environment from the production and use of chemicals by 2020;

  • halting the decline in fish stocks and restoring them to sustainable levels by 2015;

  • reducing the loss of biodiversity by 2010;

  • increasing "substantially" the use of renewable energies in global energy consumption;

  • setting up a 10-year framework for programmes on sustainable consumption and production.


The European Commission welcomed the results of the Johannesburg Summit but urged the world to turn the Summit agreement into concrete results. Commission President Romano Prodi underlined the leading role the EU had played at the WSSD and promised more EU leadership in the future. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose country holds the EU presidency, expressed overall satisfaction with the outcome of the Summit. He questioned, however, the usefulness of these world summits. "I don't think that mega-summits are the way to secure effective implementation," he said. The Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) also welcomed the outcome of the Summit. It underlined in particular "the growing realization that business is an indispensable part of the solution to the problems of the world" and summarised the Summit's results, in Elvis Presley's words "A little less conversation, a little more action". Environmental and development organisations were less happy with the outcome of Johannesburg. Friends of the Earth Europe(FoEE) said "governments missed a historic opportunity". The organisation also assessed the role of the EU at the Summit and was less positive than Mr. Prodi. "While it has fought hard but unsuccessfully for key targets and a 10 year sustainable consumption and production programme, the EU has disappointed many civil society groups on the issues of globalisation, trade and corporate accountability". The organisation called for a UN Conference on corporate accountability by the end of 2003. The WWF renamed the WSSD " the World Summit of Shameful Deals". It said Johannesburg "failed dramatically to take the action needed to reduce the patterns of unsustainable production and consumption that are impoverishing our planet and the people who live on it".  


The Post (Lusaka)
5 September 2002

WE have not lived up to the expectations of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez admitted yesterday. In a strong statement adopting the WSSD draft plan of action as chairman of the Group of the Developing Countries - the G77 and China, Chavez said more should have come out of the summit. Taking a self critic of himself, Chavez said as head of state he felt he had not achieved much for the people. "We didn't live much to the expectations and need to collectively push and demand much more for our people in future summits," Chavez said. He said he regretted that the summit had in most cases failed to commit itself to specific targets and timetables on implementing key issues bordering on human life. He further regretted that some heads of state had been travelling from summit to summit with very little benefit to their people. "They go from summit to summit while their people move from abyss to abyss," he said as leaders applauded. He told the heads of states and governments that it would be pointless to speak about human dignity if this would end at theories. He said what was required was to address specific human rights such as access to health, water, education including the eradication of poverty. Chavez also called for the review of the UN summit procedures which did not take note of points raised by heads of state. He said the documents to be ratified were drawn up while heads of states were only called to discuss the issues with their contributions only ending at discussions. He said under the summit procedures, there was no direct debate by the heads of state on matters affecting the world but mere speeches that had to be read out by obligation. In a statement endorsing the draft, US delegation spokesman said his government was, however, opposed to clauses that made it an obligation to help poor nations.

The spokesperson stated that while the USA government was committed to increasing foreign assistance, it also remained opposed to setting specific percentages of the Gross National Product as a target in the official development assistance. He said what the US government favoured was increasing aid to countries that lived up to good governance ideas and had liberalised their economies.

And United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan at a press briefing earlier in the day expressed happiness at the outcome of the summit but maintained that more would have been achieved. He said he viewed the summit as having been successfully especially that there had been several partnership between various sectors in governments, civil society and the corporate world to immediately start implementing some of the actions agreed upon. He called for the collective mobilisation of all sectors including the civil society if the actions agreed on would be achieved. "I know there are those who are disappointed and we know that we have not got all that we asked for but at least there has been a lot of progress," Annan said. He said partnerships drawn up were in the best interest of sustainable development as governments and the UN had limited resource capacities. He said he was happy that there were successes scored with regard to access to clean water and sanitation of at least 50 per cent of the people by 2015, agreements on sustainable patterns of consumption and production. Annan said most of all, the world had managed to bring the issue of poverty on the world agenda. "But what is important is not what happened in the conference rooms but what programmes and actions will be implemented," Annan said. Annan also announced that he had held long talks with US Secretary of State Collin Powell on the threat of military attacks against Iraq. He said he had also advised Iraq's deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz on the need to allow the UN inspectors into the country. He told Aziz that there was a lot of support from countries that Iraq allows the UN inspectors while no one was interested in adversaries.  He said he had been assured that President George Bush would be making a statement on the matter. And commenting on the situation in Zimbabwe, Annan said he had also held talks with President Robert Mugabe expressing concern over the country's land issue. "Yes, land reforms are necessary but this has to be done legally and in a fair manner," Annan said. "We want this matter to come to its conclusion because we don't want the land issue to poison the commercial environment not only in Zimbabwe but also in the region." He said he had advised President Mugabe to ensure that all necessary compensation was fairly awarded to those affected. He said President Mugabe took time to explain the programme to him although he felt that compensation should come from external sources. He said he also raised the issues of reported human rights abuses including allegations of politicising the relief food distribution. Annan announced that he would be sending a special envoy to the Southern African region James Morris who will visit all six countries with food deficits. Morris who is also World Food Programme executive director, will be among a group of experts assessing the food crisis. 


Financial Express
5 September 2002

On Monday, international disputes over Zimbabwe and Iraq intruded the Earth Summit-II, drowning out the rhetoric over poverty. Thus there is hardly any news, except the walkout by Robert Mugabe when Tony Blair rose to speak.  The Summit entered its final phase on Monday. Kofi Annan and Thabo Mbeki have welcomed world leaders to the final days. Presidents and prime ministers are making their statements to other assembled leaders. Their speeches are full of rhetoric of poverty reduction and halting the environmental degradation of the planet. But the final outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development looks like it will come out very weak. South Africa's foreign minister Nkosazana-Dlamini told journalists on Sunday night the draft plan was not going to be a "strong document". "To be honest, if you are negotiating with the world, you can't get everybody to accept a strong argument," she said.  A small group of 30 ministers, representing different regions of the world worked through Sunday night under the chairmanship of their South African hosts to try to iron out some of the remaining hurdles. The US finally agreed to the target of reducing the number of people without access to sanitation by half by the year 2015 but is still refusing to targets on sustainable energy use. But, the US is holding things up further as its delegates at the Summit said that they would have to consult with the White House before they could make a commitment.  President George Bush, who is still relaxing at his Texas ranch, is being asked to approve the watered down compromised text that the American delegates at the Summit have negotiated. The US succeeded in including strong new language in the text related to the post-Sept 11 drive and the "War on Terror".

The resolution will now bind countries to "take concerted action against international terrorism, which causes serious obstacles to sustainable development." This could give rise to concerns that the Declaration will be used to pressurise developing countries into complying with the US's unilateral security policies against targeted countries.  European Union officials have expressed their disappointment that the US is still refusing to move forward, despite the willingness that other countries from the G-77 developing country grouping have shown to move forward. The US has also been criticised by United Nations high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson. "I'm told there are unholy alliances going on," she said. "I think the United States is allying itself with some strange partners, and doesn't seem to have supported the human rights language."  It is, of course, not unusual for crucial deals to be made only at the last minute. At the World Trade Organisation meetings in Doha last year, the deadline for the end of the ministerial had to be extended into the night before an agreement was finally reached. The climax of this Summit may not be so dramatic, but again it will take the pressure of the clock to get countries to make the necessary compromises.  Meanwhile, developing countries have made great concessions. Importantly, they have dropped their insistence that rich countries eliminate market distorting subsidies that are destroying the livelihoods of farmers in the developing world. They have agreed to a vague wording that defers the issue of subsidies to the next round of WTO talks, and to "encourage reform of subsidies that have considerable negative effects in the environment and are incompatible with sustainable devlopment."  Whatever decisions countries come to in terms of the details of the text, the greatest challenge will still lie ahead. The agreement is meant to be a draft plan of implementation -- a practical work plan rather than a declaration of high-sounding principles, and judgement must be withheld on its success until implementation actually begins.  Jan Pronk, special adviser of the United Nations to the WSSD, emphasised a fact, "This is an implementation conference," he said but dampened some optimism about the outcome, "Although there is political will, there is a lack of urgency." The fact that environmental problems like climate change will effect the voters of the future rather than those of today lies at the heart of the limited progress that it made on environmental and developmental issues.  Strong leadership, which should be provided by the world's most affluent country, is sadly lacking. It remains to be seen whether the rest of the world can exert any pressure on the increasingly unilateralist policies of the US.  At the end, as a frustrated activist commented, "The meeting is a tremendous achievement because it doesn't go backward." That's what has enthused many pragmatists, who did not expect much from the jamboree, though smaller than the Rio summit. What remains to be seen is how countries move forward from where they leave Jo'burg. 


United Nations News
5 September 2002

5 September - China's announcement earlier this week that it has ratified the Kyoto Protocol on global warming led a host of moves by countries on international treaties dealing with sustainable development at a just-concluded United Nations conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.  During the 10-day World Summit on Sustainable Development, which sought to revitalize the fight against global poverty while preserving the environment, 48 countries and one international organization signed, ratified or acceded to 39 international accords.

The event encouraged countries to take action on treaties dealing with subjects ranging from the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to hazardous chemicals and pesticides and the illicit manufacturing of firearms.  The actual signings and deposit of instruments took place at UN Headquarters in New York and were announced afterwards at the Johannesburg Summit.  On Tuesday, Premier Zhu Rongji told the Summit that China had ratified the Kyoto Protocol. China's strategy of sustainable development had now run through all aspects of its economic and social development efforts, he said, and as the world's largest developing country and a major player in environmental protection, China was an important force in international environment cooperation.  As for other key countries' participation in the accord, Mikhail Kaysanov, Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, said his country had signed the Kyoto Protocol and was preparing for its ratification, which, he hoped, would take place in the near future. Moscow would also host a world conference on climate change in 2003.  Prime Minister Jean Chrétien added that Canada was finalizing a plan to achieve the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol and Parliament would be asked to vote on its ratification before the end of the year.  The accord establishes quantified commitments to reduce the release of these gases, requiring that from 2008 to 2012, worldwide emissions be cut by 5 per cent compared with 1990 levels. To enter into force, the Kyoto Protocol will need to be ratified by at least 55 States parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, including specified industrialized countries representing at least 55 per cent of the total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions from this group.  

5 September 2002

At the end of the day, the degree of success or failure of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) - held to find ways to alleviate international poverty and protect the global environment - is a political decision. "It basically depends on how much attention your favourite issue gets," comments a United Nations (UN) bureaucrat. While governments have generally described the WSSD as a success, many non-governmental and community organisations have slammed the summit as a waste of time, money and effort - mainly because they are not happy with its final Plan of Implementation. In an ideal world, the Plan of Implementation would have outlined targets and timetables for the international community to alleviate world poverty and protect the global environment - and provided financing for these programmes. In the end, because the plan had to marry the political and economic interests of over 200 countries, compromises had to be reached on the international targets, timetables and financing for the different environmental protection and poverty alleviation programmes. This is a reality the government delegations were forced to accept during the ten days of negotiations about the plan. As a result, despite their many reservations, during the final plenary session of the summit, most government delegations unanimously accepted the Plan of Implementation.


The only issue on which many countries were exceptionally vocal about their unhappiness was the WSSD's failure to reach an acceptable compromise on setting a timetable and targets to increase the percentage of the world's power that is generated by environment-friendly, renewable energy sources. An alliance of the United States (US) and oil producing countries managed to prevent the summit from adopting targets and timetables for the world to move to renewable energy sources. At the final plenary session, more than 30 countries, led by the European Union (EU), announced they are committing themselves to continuing to promote renewable energy sources - in clear defiance of the US. The summit agreed to ensure that the number of poor people in the world without access to clean water, proper sanitation and energy be halved by between 2010 and 2015, while wealthy countries committed themselves to start negotiating fairer trade and aid deals with developing nations.


On the environment, the summit agreed to the phasing out of harmful chemicals in agriculture and industry, and repairing damage to the world's bio-diversity and oceans - and protecting them from further harm. These are only a few of the agreements detailed in the Plan of Implementation. A substantial number of social and economic and environmental protection programmes - and their financing arrangements - were also announced at the conference. These programmes were partnerships between governments, organisations and communities and are not official UN projects. Many had already been announced at other conferences and had simply been repackaged for the WSSD, but for the purposes of the summit, they were presented as examples of sustainable development in action. Some non-governmental organisations were very critical of these, describing them as a way for governments to get out of their commitments to UN environment and development programmes.


During the plenary sessions, a number of governments called on the UN to set up structures that would co-ordinate the implementation of the summit's agreements and for the organisation's agencies to take the lead in sustainable development programmes. At the final press conference of the summit, last night, Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, said: "The UN will have to decide what mechanisms they would need to take forward the decisions of the WSSD." In many ways this was a shot across the bows of the US, which has been insisting that countries should be able to negotiate environment and aid deals directly with each other - without the participation of the UN. Many countries, including US allies like the European Union, see this approach as a direct threat to the future of the UN. The South African government led the international community in declaring the summit a success, despite withering criticism of the Plan of Implementation by international non-governmental and community organisations. 'The best you could have expected' "As an overall package, I think it's the best you could have expected in any circumstances," says Alec Erwin, the South African Minister for Trade and Industry. Many of the expectations of the summit were "politically unrealistic", he adds. "I would be surprised if the non-governmental organisations had not complained," says Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the South African Minister for Foreign Affairs. "It is part of their responsibilities to demand more than governments agree to." The observation was not made in a critical way. International development organisations, like Oxfam International, slammed the summit for failing to agree to increase financial and development aid to developing countries. Environmental organisations - like the World Wildlife Fund - were furious that the agreement did not do enough to repair damage to the global environment and protect it from further harm. The end of the final plenary was delayed because of a last minute wrangle around the Political Declaration of the WSSD.


The Political Declaration of the summit is meant to outline world leaders' commitments to sustainable development and the Plan of Implementation of the WSSD. It sketches their vision of the future of the planet, and in many ways is supposed to be the guiding document for the social and economic development - and the protection of the environment - of the world, for the next decade. As president of the conference, South Africa is responsible for drafting the Political Declaration of the WSSD. The draft was drawn up by the South African Presidency, at the request of the United Nations (UN). Once the draft declaration was opened for consultation, countries and organisations began lobbying to have their concerns highlighted - turning a straightforward statement into a politically loaded document.


There is little doubt that because the draft political declaration tries to reflect the Plan of Implementation agreed to at the WSSD, it suffers from the same problem: since it is a negotiated agreement, nobody is really happy with it. The final political declaration was hammered out long after the plenary was officially supposed to end. It remains little more than a statement of commitment by world leaders to the principles of poverty alleviation and sustainable development - and to implementing the decisions of the summit. But at a summit were every word in every document is scrutinised for advantage, it is unlikely to be interpreted in such a simple way. 


5 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Delegates to the Earth Summit, convened to reduce poverty while saving the environment, emitted 290,000 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide but paid for schemes to offset only one-seventh of that amount.  The Gauteng provincial government set up the scheme, encouraging governments and environmental groups alike to pay into a novel fund to compensate for the pollution caused by flying to South Africa, using electricity and driving around.  The organizers estimated that a delegate traveling from the United States, for example, would pay about $100 to offset the 10 tons of carbon dioxide emitted by flying to and staying in Johannesburg.  Responding to the announcement that only 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide had been offset, a spokesman for the Greening the WSSD Initiative said "We would have liked (the total) to be higher, but it is a completely voluntary thing.  "It is just getting started. It is something that we hope will become more popular and more accepted," he said.  The fund will put the money raised into environmentally friendly schemes ranging from solar water heating to tree planting and improving energy efficiency in buildings.  Many environmentalists labeled the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held over the last 10 days, a waste of time and criticized what they saw as the waste and excessive consumption associated with the gathering.  


4 September 2002

The World Summit on Sustainable Development has ended.  The decisions it has taken - and failed to take - will shape many countries' policies for years ahead.  Its organisers say it was all worthwhile, that the world is better off for the last 10 days of work. Its critics say it was a monumental waste of time, and that everyone should simply have stayed at home.  There were some undeniable gains, chiefly the agreement to halve the number of people without proper sanitation by 2015. That will cut disease. It will save lives, and mean fewer lives stunted by sickness. It is the jewel in the summit's crown.  There were valuable agreements on chemicals and on fisheries.

There were encouraging noises, and not much more, on renewable energy, endangered species of plants and animals, and the links between trade, environment and development.


Those are the credits. On the debit side, there was very little, apart from the sanitation agreement, that will improve the lives of the world's poorest people.  There were no decisions to increase overseas aid, or to improve the terms of trade, or to reduce the massive subsidies developed countries pay their own producers.  There was nothing to help the 13 million people facing imminent starvation in southern Africa. The summit organisers say Johannesburg was not the place to discuss issues like these.  But many people think they are wrong. If not here, then where, they ask. If not now, when? The head of the United Nations Environment Programme, Dr Klaus Toepfer, described the summit's results as "workmanlike".  He compared this conference with the 1992 earth summit in Rio de Janeiro: "We had had the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. Today we have a new realism as a result of globalisation.  "So the action plan agreed here in Johannesburg is less visionary... reflecting perhaps the feeling among many nations that they no longer want to promise the Earth and fail - that they would rather step forward than run too fast."


That is the pragmatic view. But another senior UN official sees it very differently - Jan Pronk, the Dutch politician who is the special envoy here of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.  Mr Pronk told BBC News Online: "We had a narrow escape. The summit came close to collapse. There's a huge gap between what the delegates have managed to achieve and people's expectations of them.  "What's been missing here is a sense of urgency."  The rich and the secure do not need urgency. Change, if it is to come, can be incremental for them.

In the 10 years since Rio the global environment, on many indicators though not all, has worsened. Ten years on, more than 30,000 children under the age of five still die every day from hunger or easily-preventable diseases.  For those who believe the world is worth conserving with a few minor changes here and there, Johannesburg has been a success.  But to those who have little, it offers little. Time is not on the side of the planet, or the poor. This summit, which offered so much, has delivered so much less than it promised. 


The Economist
4 September 2002

After ten days of talks, arguments and obscure manoeuvring, was the United Nations summit on sustainable development worth all the effort? Perhaps it was, in parts SOME Britons are fond of a dish made by mashing and heating the remnants from previous meals. The mystery repast, known as bubble-and-squeak, is not haute-cuisine, but it is tasty in parts. Much the same can be said for the grand United Nations summit on sustainable development that closed this week. Almost everything served up in Johannesburg had earlier been presented at one conference or another.  Development targets were rehashed from a turn-of-the-millennium-meeting in New York. “New” aid packages from rich countries proved to be warmed-up pledges first made at a finance-for-development meeting in Monterrey this year. On the side, talks on market access and farm subsidies reconfirmed promises on freeing trade that were made at talks in Doha last year. The main green successes were unilateral declarations of support for a protocol drawn up in Kyoto on greenhouse gases.  The UN man in charge of the summit, Nitin Desai, says all that was to the good. The official meeting of 21,000 delegates was supposed not to raise big new issues, but to emphasise well-known problems and find practical ways to solve them. Delegates, presidents and spin-doctors queued up to say the meeting was about “actions not words”, “starting a new era of implementation” and “creating partnerships”. Whereas the Rio environment summit ten years ago produced a well-received final declaration, little of substance followed. Clare Short, Britain’s development minister, says the reverse is true, on both counts, for this year’s talks. Although she and other government delegates were unimpressed by the final Johannesburg text and separate political declaration, they point to a few specific commitments and a useful focus on fighting poverty rather than on conservation. Most important is a deal to cut by half the number of people with inadequate water and sanitation by 2015. The evidence from unglamorous sewerage and hygiene projects is that helping an extra one billion people in this way will do much to reduce diarrhoea, cholera and other water-borne diseases that strike the poor. The UN Development Programme is charged with monitoring progress towards this target and other, restated, Millennium development goals: to halve the number of absolute poor, cut illiteracy and cut child mortality, also by 2015. It will do so mostly by collecting new and reliable statistics and by presenting annual country-by-country reviews. “Better data will drive better policies at the country level” suggests Mark Malloch Brown, the organisation's boss. With proper figures and accepted priorities for aid spending, governments should be better equipped to fight poverty. More money should help too: Britain, France and America each said aid will be channelled towards poor country sanitation projects. Though Africa is likely to benefit in particular from anti-poverty measures, some of its leaders did very little to help themselves during ten days of talks. Zambia’s president, Levy Mwanawasa, again said his government would refuse “poison” as food aid and turned away genetically modified grain, despite reassurances from Europe, America and the World Food Programme that there are no health risks. The World Food Programme says two months of stocks in Zambia cannot be used to feed as many as 2.4m hungry people, while non-genetically modified stocks will last only two more weeks. The leaders of Zimbabwe and Namibia also took it in turns to harangue western leaders, especially Britain’s Tony Blair, for meddling in the continent, even though southern Africa this year will depend on foreign help to feed up to 14m of its citizens.

On environmental matters, delegates agreed to do more to conserve and restore fish stocks, partly by promising to guard ocean areas already designated as protected, again with 2015 as the date for achieving sustainable stocks. Leaders from China and Estonia used their five minutes in the plenary session to announce ratification of the Kyoto protocol. This sets out rules for rich countries on cutting (or paying penalties for) emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide that are thought to add to global warming. Prime ministers from Russia and Canada both promised to do so soon. When they have, the protocol will have enough support to come into legal force despite America’s refusal to participate.  So much for the specifics of the bubble-and-squeak summit. Much of the rest was mushy and imprecise. After resistance from oil-producing countries led by Venezuela and the United States, and from poor countries worried by costs, the final text includes no targets for the use of renewable energy such as wind, solar or wave power. That is thought to be a victory for the American delegation especially, which opposed “unrealistic” targets in particular and outside meddling in domestic energy policies in general. Environmental activists and some American renewable-energy companies were disappointed.  But enthusiasts said they were happy that for the first time such a UN conference had declared an “urgent need” to “increase the share of renewables” in global energy production. European Union countries and Brazil had wanted targets and will probably announce them unilaterally, or by region in the case of South America. South Africa, the host, said it would reveal its target for renewable energy production within a few weeks. The world’s seven large energy companies did say they would share technical plans on how to get more solar-generation plants to rural areas in poor countries.  Such private efforts were reckoned by many cheerleaders to be the summit’s main success—though many activists were furious about a “corporate takeover” of the meeting, calling it a victory for greed and a tragedy for the poor and for the environment. Whereas businesses were barely present in Rio ten years ago, around 700 companies and 50 chief executives attended the Johannesburg talks. Some of the initiatives with the private sector will no-doubt prove to be one-off public relations stunts, but successful ones are supposed to bring money and expertise to development projects. HSBC, one of the world’s biggest banks, plans to spend $50m in the next five years loaning 2,000 staff to work on projects run by environmental groups such as Earthwatch. A Canadian chemicals company, Alcan, says it will help villagers in Bangladesh remove arsenic from wells and water supplies.  Such public-private partnerships may have more useful impact years after the summit than the fine words achieved at the Rio talks. But many delegates in Johannesburg swore this would be the last great event on sustainable development. “The time for these general summits is gone,” said Denmark’s prime minister, Anders Rasmussen, who is the present leader of the European Union. Smaller, focused meetings should be expected instead of more jamborees.


4 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Earth Summit negotiators agreed that a World Trade Organization treaty on patents should not prevent poor countries from providing medicines for all, a key issue for those that cannot afford costly AIDS drugs.  They also agreed that access to health care should be consistent with basic human rights as well as religious and cultural values, a measure that humans rights groups said enshrined women's rights to reproductive health care.  Following are details of problems, progress and priorities:


AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) was first reported in 1981 among homosexual men in the United States and has since claimed about 22 million lives, almost 15 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa.  More than 40 million people are living with HIV)/AIDS, most of them in developing nations. The United Nations reckons that AIDS will kill 70 million people over the next 20 years unless rich nations step up efforts to curb the disease.  South Africa has more people living with HIV/AIDS than any other country, with about one in nine of the 45 million population infected. Botswana is hardest hit, with more than one in three of its citizens infected with HIV/AIDS.  Six percent of all children in Africa are likely to be orphaned by AIDS by 2010. Drugs to treat the disease are often too costly for developing nations.  Some developing nations are making progress against AIDS--Uganda reduced the prevalence of AIDS to about 8% from 14% in the past decade, according to UNAIDS.


Almost 800 million people in developing countries are not getting enough food to lead a healthy life.  Eleven million children in developing nations die before the age of five. About 70% are killed by diarrheal diseases, malaria, respiratory infections, measles or malnutrition.  Every year, about 8.8 million people get active tuberculosis and 1.7 million of them die, mostly in poor nations. By 2020, 35 million may die of tuberculosis unless prevention is stepped up.  Malaria kills one million people a year, mostly children in Africa. The World Health Organization reckons Africa's annual gross domestic product would be $100 billion higher if malaria had been tackled more aggressively 30 years ago.  Between five and six million people a year die in developing nations from water-borne diseases and air pollution.


Life expectancy has improved for the planet's six billion people to 66.4 years in 1995-2000 from 59.9 in the early 1970s. Between 1970 and 2000, deaths among children under five worldwide fell to 56 per 1,000 live births, down from 96.  Since 1990, 800 million people have gained access to better water supplies. Hunger has fallen in some nations but at current sluggish rates it would take more than 130 years to eliminate.  One study by a panel commissioned by the World Health Organization showed well-targeted spending of $66 billion a year by 2015 could save eight million lives a year and generate economic benefits of $360 billion a year by 2020.


Women's health emerged as an unexpected hurdle at the summit as campaigners battled over words they said pitched cultural practices like female circumcision against abortion rights.  In a last-minute addition to the action plan, countries pledged to "strengthen the capacity of healthcare systems to deliver basic health services to conformity with human rights and fundamental freedoms and consistent with national laws and cultural and religious values."  Female circumcision is performed in 28 African countries, some countries in the Middle East and also in immigrant communities in other parts of the world.  The process of cutting a young girl's clitoris is viewed as ensuring chastity or enhancing beauty and in some cultures is deemed necessary for a girl to become a woman. It is usually so violent it has become known as female genital mutilation (FGM).  London-based human rights group Amnesty International estimates 135 million women have undergone FGM and roughly two million girls are at risk every year, or 6,000 each day.  Activists argue that unless health is linked to human rights women would be at greater risk from diseases such as HIV/AIDS as governments could make decisions on issues like contraception on religious or cultural grounds.  


4 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) - A virtual silence on rapid world population growth at the Earth Summit reflects a change in the way governments and society view the question of how to tackle poverty and protect the planet, delegates said.  The rising population was at the center of talks at the last such U.N. summit in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago but was scarcely mentioned in the Johannesburg follow-up finishing Wednesday.  Some argued the absence of debate on population showed reluctance to tackle issues, like contraception and abortion, that can pit social and religious values against human rights. But others said silence on population was a recognition that more people do not always mean more poverty.  "It is widely recognized that population is rather the result of poverty and not the cause," Chee Yoke Ling of campaign group Third World Network told Reuters.  The richest fifth of the world's people consume four fifths of the world's resources at present.  Ling said the Johannesburg Earth Summit had chosen to focus rather on alleviating poverty through stressing access to healthcare, clean water and improved trade between countries.  If these goals were achieved, the resulting improvement in prosperity would tackle population growth, she said. "The people are upgraded in the quality of life and don't have as many children."  The world's population currently stands at around six billion and is growing by 77 million people a year, most of them in the world's poorest countries. It is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, compared to 2.5 billion in 1950.


Others stressed that poverty alleviation and population growth had to be tackled hand-in-hand.  "We cannot reduce poverty and protect natural resources without addressing population issues," Kunio Waki, deputy executive director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), told a session during the 10-day summit.  UNFPA spokesman William Ryan told Reuters Wednesday that while the organization believed more could have been said on population growth at the summit, the fact it endorsed previous agreements on human rights was encouraging.  "It would have been helpful if there had been a more explicit acknowledgement of population...but I think the message was still strong," he said after a dispute on women's rights, seen by UNFPA as key for easing poverty and population growth.  The dispute threatened plans for an agreement over the summit action plan late Tuesday as countries wrangled over a proposal campaigners said pitted cultural and religious practices like female circumcision against abortion rights.  Women's groups argued that without a specific reference that linked human rights and healthcare, which was finally accepted, women would be prevented from making crucial choices about their rights to contraception and reproduction.  Waki said overall fertility rates have dropped by one half in the developing world since 1969, when UNFPA began, because of moves toward recognizing women equality in society.  "The last two generations of women have chosen to have smaller families, and the next will do the same if they have access to education, health services and family planning, and if they are confident the children they do have will survive." 


Environment News Service
4 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 3, 2002 (ENS) - Negotiators for 191 countries attending the World Summit on Sustainable Development have agreed upon a Plan of Action to alleviate poverty and conserve the Earth's natural resources. Summit delegates are expected to adopt the action plan, with a political declaration, at the conclusion of the summit on Wednesday.  For months leading up to the summit, it appeared as if agreement could not be reached, with developed and developing countries at odds over trade and over financing for clean water, clean energy, and climate change. But late Monday, delegates resolved a final sticking point - agreeing to drop targets and timetables for the installation of renewable energy.  The compromise is a loss for the European Union and a win for the United States and petroleum producing countries. The European Union had been pushing for a target of 15 percent of global energy coming from renewable sources by 2015. The United States opposed the setting of targets, judging them unrealistic and arbitrary.

The summit's plan of implementation is a 71 page document that is intended to set the world's environmental agenda for the next 10 years, and is expected to be a model for future international agreements.  Addressing heads of state and government at the summit Monday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the world must face an "uncomfortable truth" and resolve to make positive changes. "The model of development we are accustomed to has been fruitful for the few, but flawed for the many," he said. "A path to prosperity that ravages the environment and leaves a majority of humankind behind in squalor will soon prove to be a dead-end road for everyone."

Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai said most of the summit's objectives have been met, including affirmation by the international community of the United Nations ' Millennium Development Goals, and reaffirmation of its support for implementing Agenda 21 - the blueprint for sustainable development outlined at the Rio Earth Summit 10 years ago.  The issue of a target for renewable energy was a worthwhile goal," Desai said, "but the reality is that with sustained action, we can build up the renewable energy industries to the point where they have the critical mass to compete with fossil fuel generated energy. We have a commitment to make it happen, and now we need the follow through."  To promote cleaner energy, the United Nations Environment Programme used the summit to launch a global network of 10 sustainable energy centers. The new Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development, will help promote the research, transfer and take-up of green and cleaner energy technologies to the developing world.  "The summit was also intended to accelerate implementation of sustainable development, and from the announcements of significant new resources and partnerships, that has happened," Desai said. "We sought to put sustainable development back on the international agenda and in the global consciousness, and without question, that too has happened."  Christie Whitman, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a delegate at the summit, told reporters today that the focus on these issues would not have been the same "if there had not been a world summit - if you hadn't gotten world leaders, if you hadn't gotten delegates from around the world here to hammer out" an agreement.  The Kyoto Protocol on climate change is assured of entry into force, even without the participation of the United States. At the summit, Canada, Russia and China have all announced that they will ratify the international agreement to limit the emission of six greenhouse gases.  The Kyoto Protocol will not take effect until it is ratified by 55 percent of the nations responsible for at least 55 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990. Ratification by Russia, the last major industrial signatory, is vital, because pushes the numbers beyond 55 percent.  "Russia has signed the Kyoto Protocol and now we are preparing for its ratification. This ratification we hope will occur in the very near future," Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said at the summit today.  On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the Canadian Parliament would be asked to vote on ratification of the protocol "before the end of this year."  In his address of fellow heads of government and state, Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji said China deposited its instrument of ratification with the United Nations on August 30.  The protocol covers 37 industrialized nations, setting targets and a timetable for limits on the emission of six greenhouse gases linked to global warming The next round of negotiations is expected to set targets and timetables for limiting the emissions of developing nations such as Brazil, India and China.  Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday that his government is doing its utmost to see that the document is universally ratified. Japan ratified the protocol earlier this year.  World leaders have used the summit as a platform to announce their commitments to conserve and protect the Earth:

Brazil and the World Bank signed an agreement in Johannesburg Tuesday on the summit sidelines to triple the area of the Amazon rainforest that is protected. "Saving the forest is crucial for sustainable development," the theme of the summit, said Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.  With the new agreement in place, the protected area of the over-exploited Amazon rose to 50 million hectares, an area equal to 3.6 percent of the world's tropical forests.  U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Turner said the United States has announced partnership packages that include about $10 billion in pledges to alleviate poverty, fight hunger, increase housing for the poor, increase access to fresh water and clean energy, and promote health care and education.

In his speech to summit delegates, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres suggested the planting of a billion trees in the Middle East region over the next 10 years to help ease the effects of climate change. Peres suggested building a canal to bring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea and the establishment of a "regional water bank" to "facilitate planning and technological application processes for water production, water recycling, water transportation and water usage conservation."  Costa Rica announced a moratorium on offshore oil exploration.  Canada is committed to the establishment of five new National Marine Conservation Areas in the next three to five years, Prime Minister Chretien announced.  The United Kingdom announced it will raise its commitment to development aid to Africa to £1 billion a year by 2006 and its overall levels of assistance to all countries by 50 percent, Prime Minister Tony Blair told the summit plenary session.  Blair stressed that the increase in aid is not charity, but "an investment in our collective future." In a joint statement on Monday, the UK Department for International Development and the South African government's Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, announced the extension of a comprehensive water and forestry development program worth £19.8 million or approximately $US33 million, financed by the British agency.  Stressing the need for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by all nations, Blair said that "the consequences of inaction on these issues are not unknown, they are calculable. Poverty and environmental degradation, if unchecked, spell catastrophe for our world, that is clear."  Summit spokeswoman Susan Markham said that the United Nations so far has received submissions from 17 biodiversity partnerships between governments, non-governmental organizations and international groups with almost $100 million in financial resources to support actions throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.  The summit ministers also agreed to reaffirm the so-called "Rio Principles," including the precautionary principle which asks people to take action before the effects are seen, as in the case of ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere.  On Monday, former South African Prime Minister Nelson Mandela and Queen Noor of Jordan jointly announced the 2003 World Congress on Protected Areas will be held in Durban, South Africa, next September 8 to 17 under the auspices of the IUCN-World Conservation Union. The two dignitaries will share patronage of the Congress entitled, "Protected Areas: Benefits Beyond Boundaries."  Mandela expressed "particular pleasure and pride in the new international partnerships between neighboring states to create transboundary protected areas and peace parks." Some environmental groups were disappointed in the summit outcome, saying that the Plan of Action leaves out many important safeguards for the Earth and its poorest inhabitants.

Greenpeace Executive Director Gerd Leipold said, "Many heads of states have made fine speeches saying that climate change was the number one challenge facing our planet. What has this summit done about it? Absolutely nothing. By its own standards, the WSSD has failed."  "Our challenge now is to shine a spotlight so that everyone can see the forces that are responsible for that failure. And that's the unholy alliances between big business and governments that allow our planet's future and the poverty of humanity to take a back seat to the corporate bottom line."  The IUCN's Achim Steiner said that environmental conditions have degraded over the past 10 years, and the official discussions really re-negotiated what had been agreed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. He argued that the UN Millennium Development Goals are being short-changed by agreements on trade. Far from the conference venue, Steiner said, the real spirit of Rio is alive at the social events, meetings and announcements going on in civil society venues.  "The test," of the Johannesburg Action Plan said Summit Secretary-General Desai, "is whether governments, along with civil society and the private sector, can pursue the commitments that are in the document, and take actions that achieve measurable results."  


Planet Ark
4 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG - The Earth Summit's decision not to set itself a firm target for boosting green energy is a lost battle for renewable energies like solar and wind power, but it's not the end of the war, analysts said. Facing stern opposition from the United States and OPEC countries, attempts by the European Union and many South American countries to set the world's first target for increasing the global share of renewable energies failed.  "This deal is worse than no deal," said Friends of the Earth's Kate Hampton in a comment typical of green campaigners who see renewable energy as the only alternative to fossil fuels, which are blamed for potentially disastrous global warming. The wording agreed on the energy chapter of what will be adopted as the summit's action plan for sustainable development promotes "cost effective technologies" to the poor, "including fossil fuel technologies as well as renewable energy".  This may give some cheer to champions of development in a world where some two billion people, a third of the world's population, have no modern energy. But it did little to turn the world away from its thirst for oil, environmentalists said.  Fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas make up about 80 percent of world energy use. Environmentalists see them as unsustainable not only because they are finite but also because they emit heat-trapping gases when burned, leading to climate change. Alex de Roo, a Dutch Green Euro MP, said the summit had forgotten its role of supporting "sustainable" development - economic growth that would not damage the environment.  "The spirit of Rio is lost," said de Roo, referring to the first Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992 which issued a blueprint for sustainable development called Agenda 21.  "This was about classic economic development for the poor, and the link with sustainability has been lost."


Kalee Kreider of Washington-based National Environmental Trust said the lack of targets for renewable energies was a victory for U.S. President George W. Bush, the man who pulled the United States out of the Kyoto climate change pact and is reviled by green campaigners as a friend of the oil industry.  "Despite the fact that President Bush is on his ranch, his shadow has loomed large in Johannesburg," Kreider said.  Bush declined an invitation to the summit, attended by some 100 other heads of state and government. Margot Wallstrom, the EU Environment Commissioner who was a key figure in keeping Kyoto afloat after the U.S. pullout, said the deal was far from a complete failure for renewable energies.  "What we have done is for the first time, we got the energy issue discussed as one of the core issues of sustainable development," she told reporters.  The fact that energy had dominated the summit boded well for the future, she said, adding that many countries which had said they could not accept targets told her afterward that they were sorry the EU's proposal failed. South African Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told EU delegates as the meeting broke up: "Don't despair. You have raised the challenge.  "Many of you have raised the baton. I'd like to think that (in future) we can give it our best shot...clearly this (deal) is not enough."  But as the next Earth Summit may well be at least 10 years away, where do climate change campaigners take their battle now? They already rule out nuclear energy as an acceptable, climate-friendly option.


One arena may be the Kyoto Protocol, the global pact on cutting largely fossil fuel-related emissions. Although that treaty was dealt a near fatal blow when Bush pulled out last year, it looked a shade healthier this week when Canadian Prime Minster Jean Chretien used the summit to announce parliament would vote on approving Kyoto by year-end.  Chretien's Liberals have a comfortable majority in parliament and Kyoto's approval is likely if the party backs it.  If Russia also ratifies, as it has said it intends to, the treaty will come into legal force, requiring some action on cutting emissions by the end of the decade. Kyoto signatories will soon start discussing targets for developing countries that are currently exempt and bigger targets for richer countries.  But ahead of that process, which will not begin for a few years, action on renewable energies and climate will begin at home - even in the United States, said WWF campaigner Jennifer Morgan.  The EU has its own target of doubling its use of renewables to 12 percent of total energy consumption by 2010. It is discussing a system to allow countries and firms to trade the "right to pollute" in order to bring costs down.  At national, regional and local level, including in some U.S. states and cities, politicians are setting targets for use of renewable energies, Morgan said.  "At that level it will be a different battle ground," said Morgan. "One where there won't be any alliances with OPEC."

See Also:

KYOTO MAY COME INTO FORCE IN MONTHS Independent 4 September 2002




AFP 28 August 2002





Environment News Service
4 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, September 4, 2002 (ENS) - The 10 day United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development concluded today with commitments by governments and the private sector to improve the lives of people living in poverty and to reverse the degradation of the global environment. But young people and environmental groups expressed disappointment and anger that some wealthy nations and industries did not allow greater progress on the road to sustainable development.  "Governments have agreed here on an impressive range of concrete commitments and action that will make a real difference for people in all regions of the world," said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan) at a closing press conference.  The major outcome document, the Plan of Implementation, contains targets and timetables to spur action on a wide range of issues, including halving the proportion of people who lack access to clean water or proper sanitation by 2015, to restoring depleted fisheries to preserving biodiversity by 2015, and phasing out of toxic chemicals by 2005.  For the first time countries adopted commitments toward increasing the use of renewable energy "with a sense of urgency," although a renewable energy target introduced by Denmark on behalf of the European Union and the Like Minded Group of Countries, and supported by many others, was not adopted.  More than 220 partnerships, representing $235 million in resources, by and between governments, citizen groups and businesses were identified during the summit process to complement the government commitments, and many more were announced outside of the formal summit proceedings, Annan said.  "This summit will put us on a path that reduces poverty while protecting the environment, a path that works for all peoples, rich and poor, today and tomorrow," the Secretary-General said.  Green Cross International President Mikhail Gorbachev was joined by other Nobel Peace Laureates in calling upon the world's political, business, and civil society leaders to rapidly take action to stem the earth's environmental degradation and place the whole of humanity on the path to sustainable development.  "A gathering of the world's leaders to combat the earth's growing environmental and economic development problems is an opportunity for action that must not be squandered," said Gorbachev, former head of the Soviet Union. "If we fail to act decisively and strongly, we will be judged harshly by future generations. We should win the battle for the planet." Gorbachev released the "Johannesburg Declaration" with fellow Nobel Laureates and mayors from across the planet representing millions of citizens. The Declaration calls on summit participants to take swift and resolute action in the areas of water, energy, and the acceptance of a new code of ethics for sustainable development.  Given the lack of commitments, targets, and timetables in the WSSD plan of implementation, the signatories of the Johannesburg Declaration hope that governments, business, and civil society will not shirk their responsibility to set the world firmly on the path to a sustainable future.  Young people assembled in Johannesburg said they were angered and disappointed at the summit's "meager results."  In a statement Wednesday, the International Union of Students, the International Youth and Student Movement for the UN, and the South African Youth Council said the young people "entered this process with hope and optimism" but emerged "disappointed and angered that the rich and powerful have blocked the road to sustainable development and generated meager results from this summit."  "We are troubled by the efforts of governments of the north to gut Agenda 21 and to co-operate with and even encourage an unprecedented corporate invasion of democratic, multilateral, and cooperative processes," the young people said. "We are outraged by one government in particular, the U.S., and its attempts to undermine and sabotage agreements at this summit."  "The Bush administration is the biggest obstacle to the success of the World Summit on Sustainable Development," said Leslie Fields, director of International Programs for Friends of the Earth US, following the speech of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to the plenary session of world leaders.  Powell was booed and jeered at today when he defended genetically modified food aid to starving countries of southern Africa, and again when he said that the United States is committed to combating global warming .  Comparing the outcomes of the Johannesburg summit to those of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, Philip Clapp, president of the Washington, DC based National Environmental Trust said, "Worst of all, on climate change it's a huge step backward. The Bush administration formed its own axis with Venezuela and OPEC nations - its own axis of oil."  Clapp contends that the Bush administration aggressively held out to the end with OPEC countries to block the European Union supported targets that would have increased the percentage of energy production from renewable sources to 15 percent by 2015.  "Utilities are the source of 40 percent of America's global warming pollution. We will not begin to cut those emissions unless utility companies begin to invest seriously in renewable energy resources. They have failed to make those investments for the past decade, and our global warming emissions have risen by over 13 percent," said Clapp.  Jacob Scherr, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's International Program observed that though "the secretary spoke a lot about partnerships," he "failed to recognize that such initiatives can only be truly effective if they are undertaken within a framework of globally agreed standards and targets. We need mechanisms at the national and international level for accountability."  As the summit comes to a close, all of these groups have begun to outline their follow-up plans. "Implementation," said Scherr, "is when the really hard work begins. The Natural Resources Defense Council and others need to work together to hold governments and other groups accountable."  For the Sierra Club Director Michael Dorsey warned, "The next step forward is November. Judgment will come on election day."  


Associated Press
4 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - World leaders and global activists here agree on this much: Blame it on Rio.  The Earth Summit 10 years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, grandly resolved to save all of nature, from the humblest algae to the majestic elephant. And it agreed the planet's delicate climate urgently needed protection before global warming rises to unbearable levels.  How to fulfill that sweeping vision - while lifting billions of people from crushing poverty - became the difficult job of delegates to the World Summit, which closed Wednesday.  In the end, the world summit turned out much like sustainable development itself:  Slow. Unspectacular. A handful of small victories and some promising new initiatives.  But the most daunting issues - species extinctions, infectious disease, trade subsidies, cleaner energy - remain stubbornly unresolved.  Whereas Rio produced a pair of global treaties, this summit's final action plan offers a few specific - and nonbinding - promises for change.  Summit leaders said Johannesburg established sustainable development as a global issue on a par with peace and human rights. It was destined to be a nitty-gritty meeting marked by horse-trading deals, they said. "There's time for purity," said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "and there's time for practical."  The summit opened nearly two weeks ago with a flourish of lofty Rio-esque rhetoric. South African President Thabo Mbeki predicted the world summit would be "a fitting culmination to a decade of hope" after Rio.  By Wednesday, leaders were careful not to overreach.  "They were naturally difficult talks," said French President Jacques Chirac, the most visible Western leader after U.S. President George W. Bush declined to attend and British Prime Minister Tony Blair vanished early.  "It brings a new momentum to the process of sustainable development," Chirac said. "On the whole, they advanced things."  Activists left Johannesburg feeling betrayed by world leaders who, they said, offered "crumbs for the poor."  "When the time came for targets, timetables and money, they let the world down," said Andrew Hewitt of Oxfam International.  Environmentalists were equally chagrined. For them, this was no Rio. Biodiversity and climate issues were nearly ignored.  "The whole ecosystem was lost in the discussions," said Carmen Ravenga of World Resources Institute, an Washington advocacy group.  Ravenga said negotiating groups dealt separately with major issues, and the results frequently were in conflict.  "For example, the renewable energy section includes building more dams for hydroelectricity," she said. "And that does little to reduce the threat to freshwater species, which is contradictory to the biodiversity target."  The summit's big winner was Big Business. Viewed with suspicion at Rio for its bitter legacy of environmental damage, cleaner industry was embraced at Johannesburg as a vital partner. Multinational companies announced hundreds of partnerships with Western powers to help poor countries and develop new markets - although few of the deals, they admitted, were brand-new.  Even high-tech companies sought partnerships with the poor.  Hewlett-Packard announced a three-year deal with South Africa to bring computer services to isolated communities. Among the  possibilities: telemedicine services where hospitals, ambulances - even roads - are non-existant.  "The government has to help with infrastructure. We're not going to lay electrical lines," said HP executive vice president Debra Dunn. "There's not a lot of track record for this kind of thing. It's fairly overwhelming."  The summit was held at Africa's glitziest complex of hotels and shopping malls, located within sight of a squalid township where 350,000 people live in the very conditions the summit examined.  Inside, negotiators were diluting - or eliminating - specific targets and timetables for sustainable development.  Some of the jettisoned goals - such as, halving the number of hungry people in the world - might have been too difficult to achieve in the next 30 years.  Others were politically unacceptable, like making 10 percent of the world's electrical generating capacity run on renewable sources such as wind and solar.  The final plan hinged on this deal: the United States agreed to a target halving the number of people without clean water and toilets (now about 2 billion) by 2015. In exchange, the European Union dropped ambitious targets for renewable energy.  Outside, Johannesburg became a sustainability jamboree.  Chefs served up stews from solar-powered cookers. Weavers transformed banana peels into paper and textiles. Builders fashioned entire dwellings from tin cans.  The summit featured people who already were living sustainably. Benson Venegas, 39, and 1,500 neighbors organically cultivate cacao and bananas in the rugged Talamanca Mountains in southeastern Costa Rica.  Venegas' best customer is actor Paul Newman, or at least Newman's gourmet food firm. Newman's Own brand blends the organic cacao in its milk chocolate treats.  "I like the coffee seeds covered in chocolate," Venegas said.  The gruop established rainforest biodiversity reserves and opened seven ecotourism lodges. With the profits, most residents now have electricity and clean water. Deforestation stopped.

His message to the delegates? "Sustainable development can fix poverty," Venegas said. "We had no roads, no schools. The people need to make the first step and it can be very hard."  


Associated Press
4 September 2002

Partial list of agreements reached and initiatives launched at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, as compiled by the United Nations



_ Halve the proportion of people without access to sanitation by 2015, matching the goal for those without access to safe drinking water.


_ U.S. announced $970 million in investments over three years.

_ EU announced "water for life" initiative targeted at Africa and Central Asia.

_ Asia Development Bank provided $5 million grant to U.N. Habitat and $500 million in loans to Water for Asian Cities program.



_ Increase access to modern energy services, energy efficiency and use of renewable energy.

_ Phase out energy subsidies where appropriate.


_ EU announced a $700 million energy initiative.

_ U.S. said it would invest up to $43 million in 2003.

_ South African utility Eskom announced partnership to extend modern energy services to neighboring countries.



_ By 2020, chemicals should be used and produced in safe ways.

_ Enhance cooperation to reduce air pollution.

_ Improve developing countries' access to alternatives to ozone-depleting chemicals by 2010.


_ U.S. committed to spend $2.3 billion through 2003 on health, some earmarked earlier.



_ Global environmental fund to consider including decertification as focal area for funding.

_ Development of food security strategies for Africa by 2005.


_ U.S. will invest $90 million in 2003 for sustainable agriculture programs.



_ Reduce biodiversity loss by 2010.

_ Restore fisheries to maximum sustainable yields by 2015.

_ Establish network of marine protected areas by 2012.

_ Act by 2004 to implement global program to protect oceans from land-based pollution sources.


_ U.S. announced $53 million for forests in 2002-2005.

_ 32 other plans worth $100 million.



_ Recognition that opening market access is key to development for many countries.

_ Support the phase out of all forms of export subsides.

_ Actively promote corporate responsibility and accountability 


4 September 2002

International big business on Wednesday welcomed the agreement reached on the Johannesburg World Summit action plan.

The Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD), an umbrella initiative representing more than 150 local and foreign corporations at the summit, said business was at its best when there were clear goals and practical targets to achieve.  "These give us a framework for entrepreneurial opportunities, long-term planning and partnership possibilities.  "So we are rolling up our sleeves to help make it happen," the initiative said in a statement.  World leaders are set to adopt the Plan of Implementation later on Wednesday following two weeks of negotiations at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).  The blueprint, which includes time-frames and targets on various issues, including on sanitation delivery and biodiversity, aims to help cut poverty while protecting the environment.  The BASD said it also welcomed the growing realisation that business was an indispensable part of the solution to the problems of the world.  "We have improved our relationships with government, NGOs and others. Together we will turn the idea of sustainable development through practical partnerships into a growing reality on the ground.  "As we move forward the view of business could be summarised in the words of Elvis Presley: A little less conversation, a little more action."  Sapa  


4 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - As the remaining delegates left the Earth Summit on Thursday, many wondered if they had just experienced the last-ever global mega-conference. Politicians from many of the nearly 200 countries who met to discuss sustainable development said the summit fell far short of its aim of setting out a blueprint for reducing poverty and cleaning up the environment.  "We have to have a radical change of the format of these summits," Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the summit's closing session on Wednesday to sustained applause. "There isn't a debate, there is no dialogue. It seems to be a dialogue of the deaf," he added, saying hard-hitting rhetoric by heads of state was not reflected in the summit's action plan.  Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also slammed the plan which repeated many pledges already made by countries on issues like aid, trade and preserving natural resources, but contained few new promises of concrete action.  "We should never have such shameful summits again," said Ricardo Navarro, chairman of Friends of the Earth International.  "We feel anger and despair because world leaders have sold out to the WTO and big business. They have done nothing for the poor," he added.  The business community weighed in with its own gentle criticism. "The view of business could be summarized in the words of Elvis Presley: 'A little less conversation, a little more action."' said Business Action for Sustainable Development. As a follow-up to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, Johannesburg aimed to set out ways to implement the goals agreed 10 years ago on getting the global economy to work for the poor as well as the rich and protect the planet for future generations.


The summit's "plan of implementation" contained some news. Countries pledged to get sanitation to at least half the 2.4 billion people who lack it today by 2015, to minimize the impact of harmful chemicals by 2020 and to restore endangered fish stocks by 2015. But it set no target for boosting renewable energy, like wind and solar power, despite attempts by European and Latin American states which called for better technology to help get power to the poor and reduce pollution.  While those who were disappointed blamed the "usual suspects" -- selfish rich countries, big business, the oil lobby -- many pointed the finger at the process itself.  "I don't think more mega-summits is the way to secure effective implementation," Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, told a news conference.  "The 1990s were the decade of mega-summits. I think we should make the next 10 years the decade of action."  Other delegates were even more skeptical.  "International bureaucrats exist to keep themselves in jobs. The process is more important than the result. It is a completely meaningless waste of money," Mukhamed Tsikanov, a Russian deputy trade minister, told Reuters earlier in the week.  South African President Thabo Mbeki was clearly delighted with the way his country had hosted the event, which suffered none of the major violence that marred previous summits in Seattle and Genoa.  "The people of South Africa were an important part of the success of this summit," he told a news conference.


But many delegates doubted whether it was worth the massive cost.  "This summit and all the preparations probably cost the world a billion dollars. It would have been better spent buying 500 million solar cookers," Deling Wang, head of the non-governmental organizations' energy caucus, told Reuters.  But many NGOs were reluctant to call for an end to summits.  "The United Nations ( news - web sites) is the only forum we have at this time as a counterweight to the World Trade Organization ( news - web sites)," said Meena Raman, a campaigner with the Third World Forum.  Although highly critical of what she saw as Johannesburg's failure to deliver for the world's poor, Raman said it had not been a total waste of time.  "It was important for us to see where governments stood. This was a check, a benchmarking of governments," she said.  Whether or not there will be another Earth Summit may depend on how countries stick to the promises they made.

The world's attention was far more focused on Rio in 1992, than on Johannesburg in 2002, partly because people were losing faith in the leaders' ability to deliver.  "Rio was a failure, we can see that now," said Tommy Remengesau, president of the tiny Pacific island state of Palau. "But we can't judge the outcome of Johannesburg yet -- We'll have to see what happens in two, maybe five, years"

See Also:

EU SAYS TIME OF 'MEGA-SUMMITS' MAY BE OVER Associated Press 4 September 2002


United Nations News
3 September 2002

3 September - Concluding negotiations that spanned nine months and three continents, delegates at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, have reached agreement on the last remaining provisions of the action plan to be adopted at the conclusion of the conference, United Nations officials said today.  Aside from a few remaining objections on issues relating to health and human rights, negotiations on the outcome document were completed after round-the-clock sessions at the ministerial level.

Among the agreements reached was a goal to reduce the proportion of people who lack access to proper sanitation by half by 2015, an agreement towards increasing the use of renewable energies, and a number of targets and timetables aimed at protecting or restoring ecosystems.  Nitin Desai, the Summit's Secretary-General, told a press briefing today that the meeting had been successful in imparting a sense of urgency, in achieving "reasonably clear commitments to action in key areas," and in creating partnerships in the five priority areas of water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.  Meanwhile in the Summit's plenary session, world leaders continued their high-level segment, with 84 heads of State or Government slated to speak. Several European leaders pledged to increase their countries' official development assistance in the years ahead, while leaders from developing nations stressed that greater international cooperation was necessary to promote sustainable development.  The high-level segment is expected to wrap up tomorrow with the remaining speakers, including Secretary of State Colin Powell of the United States, followed by the final plenary meeting, where the Summit's outcome documents are scheduled to be submitted for approval. 


Government of Botswana
3 September 2002

Botswana will present a report at the ongoing World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg on the progress it has made since the earth summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 10 years ago.  One of the main outcomes of the Brazil summit was Agenda 21, which constitutes an agenda for sustainable development in the 21st century. For Botswana the key to sustainable development centres on global competitiveness and economic diversification.  The report lists some of Botswana's sustainable development paradigm as maintaining good governance, a culture of transparency, tolerance and respect for human rights.  The Botswana report outlines efforts the country has made and stumbling blocks it encountered in an endeavour to diversify the economy, achieve rapid sustainable economic development, eradicate poverty and realise social justice.  It says efforts continue to be made to diversify the economy which is dependant on mining, especially diamonds which are not renewable, and promote non-mining sectors such as agriculture which is the mainstay of rural economy tourism, financial services and manufacturing. Mining accounted for 87 per cent of exports in 2001 and contributed about one-third of gross domestic product in 1999/2000.  Because of environmental degradation and persistent droughts, efforts to kick-start the agriculture sector are faltering. Grazing areas are not able to support the large stocks, the report says.  Government has, despite the set backs, made efforts for sustained agriculture development through various schemes like Tribal Grazing Land Policy, Services to Livestock Owners in Communal Areas and the Arable Land Development Programme.  Through its national development plans, the government has directed its efforts to fighting poverty and there has been some positive results.  The report indicates that poverty levels dropped as the number of households living below the poverty datum line declined from 650 719 to 623 100 between 1985/86 and 1993/94. Poverty levels in rural areas declined from 60 per cent to 48 per cent in 1985 and 1994.  Besides the grappling with the levels of poverty, the government has to address other social ills such as AIDS, which is threatening to reverse progress made; and the rising unemployment, which is higher in urban centres and stood at 21.5 per cent in 1995/96 and affected mainly the 20-24 age group.  The report also indicates that Botswana has achieved reductions in mortality rates as the death rate fell from 13.7 per cent 100 in 1971 to about 6.6 per 100 in 2001. However there has been a significant rise in infant and under five mortality rates in 1996 from 37.4 and 45 per 100 to 58 and 76 per 100 respectively in 2000 because of AIDS.  To achieve sustainable development, the government has also embarked and passed laws that prohibit all forms of discrimination on gender bases.  The government intends to empower women economically. Government has also ratified the SADC gender and development declaration. On the international front, Botswana has signed or ratified a number of treaties as part of co-operation in sustainable development.  Some of the treaties include the Ramsar Convention, SADC protocols on shared waterways and convention to combat desertification and cities.  The summit, which began on August 26 and ends on September 5 and held under the theme "People Planet and Prosperity, is expected to draw thousands of delegates and about 100 heads of state and government. Botswana delegation is led by the Vice President Seretse Khama Ian Khama and includes the Minister of Housing Lands and the Environment, Jacob Nkate. BOPA 


Daily Times of Nigeria
3 September 2002

President Olusegun Obasanjo has re-stated his call for debt remission to place developing countries on a sound path of sustainable development. "We believe that for as long as the external debt remain a burden, development would remain severely impaired," Obasanjo told 102 heads of state and other world leaders in his address at the plenary session of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), on Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa.  He said poverty eradication was not only one of the greatest challenges facing humankind today, but also a pre-requisite for sustainable development, adding that the first step towards the eradication of poverty was food security.  "To eradicate poverty, therefore, we should eliminate all factors that threaten our agriculture such as drought and deserti-fication", the Southern Africa correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria quotes President Obasanjo as saying at the summit.  He said it was obvious that the hopes generated by the 1992 Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro had not been realised as implementation remained the bane of past declarations with incremental gap between words and action in successive conferences.  "We have to talk less and act more so as to earn the commendation and respect of the children of the world who have openly, clearly and strongly condemned the leaders of the world for failure to act collectively and positively in their interest and in the interest of the world", Obasanjo said.  Obasanjo called on the summit to urge the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to provide support for the implementation of the UN convention to combat desertification (UNCCD), by making GEF the convention's financial mechanism.  He also called upon the summit to support the African process on development and protection of marine and coatal environment in sub-Saharan Africa.  On NEPAD, Obasanjo expresed satisfaction that the WSSD plan of implementation document supported the continent's new development initiatives which was anchored on the tripod of ownership, partnership and responsibility.  "There is clear a symmetary and synergy between NEPAD and the objectives of WSSD," he said and urged the international community to support the WSSD implementation document particularly the targets and time frames contained in the programme of action.  During the summit, NAN reports that President Obasanjo also launched and signed the African-European Union strategic partnership on water and sanitation.  The partnership commits African countries to halving the proportion of the people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015.  President Obasanjo had since returned to Abuja after the one day trip.  Meanwhile, Kofi Annan UN secretary general Kofi Annan on Monday in Johannesburg, called on rich nations to lead the way in implementing the many agreements reached to reverse environmental degradation and achieve sustainable  development.  "They have the wealth. They have the technology. And they contribute disproportionately to global environmental problems," the UN scribe told 103 heads of state including President Olusegun Obasanjo at the plenary session of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Annan said that although action starts with governments, business and civil society groups also have a critical role as partners, advocates and watchdogs, without which sustainable development would remain only a distant dream. "We are not asking corporations to do something different from their normal business; we are asking them to do their normal business differently," the Southern Africa correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Annan as saying.  Annan said that the model of development the world had been accustomed to "has been fruitful for a few, but flawed for the many" adding that the path to prosperity that ravages the environment and leaves a majority of humankind behind in squalor would soon prove to be a dead end road for everyone.  Urging for concerted efforts in five key areas of water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity, the UN scribe urged the world leaders not to disguise the perilous state  of the earth or pretend that conservation was too expensive because the cost of failure to act was far greater.  "The world today needs to usher in a season of transformation , a season of stewardship. Let it be a season in which we make a long overdue investment in the survival and security of future generations," Annan said.  He urged the world leaders gathered in Jahannesburg to "stop being economically defensive and start being politically courageous."  Annan also called for responsibility in the relationship between human beings and the natural environment which humankind look up to for food, fuel, medicines and materials that societies depend on. 


Reuters via
3 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Earth Summit negotiators struggled to end a dispute over women's rights on Tuesday to complete a plan to slash poverty and safeguard the planet already denounced by environmentalists as too bland. But in a move likely to please greens, Russia told the conference it expected to ratify the Kyoto pact on global warming soon, which would virtually ensure its implementation. After months of preparation and more than a week of haggling, 10 words proposed by Canada in a bid to prevent female circumcision and to safeguard abortion rights stood in the way of a global deal on the penultimate day of the giant conference. Canada wanted to add: "and in conformity with all human rights and fundamental freedoms" to a paragraph on strengthening women's healthcare to try to prevent governments from arguing that religious and cultural practices were paramount. "If it's not (included) the Johannesburg text will be a very bad day for women," Mary Robinson, U.N. human rights chief, said as dozens of world leaders made speeches at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. South Africa and the European Union back Canada in talks likely to last until late on Tuesday. "Women's rights are human rights," Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said. A group of women demonstrated in front of the conference hall for the addition of the words to a sweeping blueprint for halving poverty by 2015 by fighting AIDS, slowing global warming and deforestation and bolstering fish stocks.


Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said Moscow may ratify the Kyoto Protocol on limiting global warming this year. Russian ratification would, due a complex weighting system, virtually ensure the treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be implemented despite its rejection by the biggest air polluter, the United States. And China, the world's second biggest polluter, said it had symbolically ratified the deal. Although not bound by Kyoto because it is a developing country, China's Premier Zhu Rongji told delegates at the summit China had ratified the pact. Ratification of Kyoto might appease environmentalists angry over an energy deal that agreed to a "substantial increase" in the use of renewable energy like solar and wind power, but stopped short of setting any clear global targets.


President Bush is among the few world leaders not to attend the summit of 21,000 delegates and will send Secretary of State Colin Powell to make a speech on Wednesday, by which time most world leaders will have left. The action plan meant to crown the 10-day World Summit on Sustainable Development has fallen far short of the ambitious blueprint envisioned by many governments and green groups. "End of term report -- Not satisfactory: must do better" said environmental group Friends of the Earth. Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai defended the summit, saying it had fixed targets from rescuing fish stocks to halving the proportion of people who lack sanitation by 2015. According to the U.N. 2002 Human Development Report, 1.1 billion people -- almost a fifth of humanity -- lacked access to safe drinking water in 2000. "We have an action plan and we have targets and timetables," Desai told a news conference. The biggest hurdle facing the accord on Tuesday was removed when the EU dropped insistence on setting targets to boost the use of renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, in a victory for the United States and OPEC oil-exporting states. Despite condemnation from green groups, Desai said: "I would say this is the strongest mandate on energy that the international system has received." Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, whose country is the third-largest oil exporter in the world but also a major producer of hydroelectricity, said: "We are disappointed that there are no targets." "The Americans, Saudis and Japanese have got what they wanted...It's worse than we could have imagined," Steve Sawyer, climate policy director of Greenpeace, told Reuters. Environmentalists have also complained that the trade section of the text failed to highlight the ecological and social costs of globalization. The question of how binding the final agreement is depends on a political declaration that also needs to be hammered out. South African papers splashed Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe blasting British Prime Minister Tony Blair for meddling in the former British colony's affairs, while clashes between police and Palestinian protesters also featured widely. 


International Herald Tribune
3 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG National leaders beginning the final stage Monday of the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development were likely to adopt a political declaration and an action plan that falls short of the expectation of the thousands of environmental and development activists seeking to put pressure here on the governments.  President Jacques Chirac of France, one of several heads of state and government who sounded pessimistic as the meeting entered its last phase, said that, 10 years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, "We have no reason to celebrate."  "It is time to open our eyes," Chirac told the assembly. "Alarms are sounding across all the continents. Europe is beset by natural disasters and health crises."  “The American economy, with its often-ravenous appetite for natural resources, seems to be hit by a crisis of confidence in the way it is managed. Latin America is again shaken by a financial and, hence, social crisis," he said.  "In Asia, rising pollution evidenced by the brown cloud is spreading and threatening to poison an entire continent. Africa is plagued by conflicts, AIDS, desertification and famine. Some island countries are seeing their very existence threatened by climate warming." Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany linked the floods and drought that have hit parts of Europe, Asia and Africa this year to global warming, taking a position that many scientists privately share but are reluctant to embrace publicly. "There has been a dramatic increase in extreme weather conditions," he said, "and it shows one thing very clearly: that climate change is no longer a skeptical forecast only. It is a reality, wherever we are on a global scale, in all of the continents and nearly in all countries by now." The summit left the United States in an isolated position on climate change. Although all but three nations - Turkmenistan, Nairu and San Marino - have sent delegates to the biggest UN conference ever, President George W. Bush was not among the 104 heads of state and government attending the meeting, which is intended to alleviate global poverty and turn back environmental destruction. From a powerful ally like Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain to the tiny island state of Tuvalu - which is threatened with sinking under the ocean waves because of global warming - several countries directly or indirectly blamed the United States for being one of the causes of environmental degradation through its refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.  "We want the islands of Tuvalu, our nation, to exist permanently, forever and ever, and not to be submerged under water merely due to the selfishness and greed of the industrial world," said Tuvalu's prime minister, Saufatu Sopoanga.

He said his country's proposal for a legally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gases "never saw the light of the day due mainly to the actions of countries that refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol." The draft of the political declaration the leaders are expected to approve later this week did not specifically mention the protocol - the agreement to limit climate change with specific targets to reduce pollutants - which the United States has walked away from. It commits leaders only to "continue the search for a global long-term commitment to address climate change" with special interest to the concerns of small island states that risk disappearance because of rising ocean levels. Blair, Bush's closest political ally, indirectly criticized the American position. "Kyoto is right and it should be ratified by all of us," he said. On the issue of poverty, Chirac said that rich countries must reach within 10 years the target of devoting 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product to development aid, a promise they made at Rio de Janeiro and, with the exception of the Scandinavian countries, have failed to meet. The United States devotes about 0.1 percent of its GDP to foreign aid and argues that much of the world's development work should be handed over to private corporations. And this, it says, requires that the poor countries run their governments and systems better. Chirac also called for a "solidarity levy" on globalization to combat the persistence of mass poverty, which he said was "outrageous and an aberration." Chirac, however, made no specific commitments to reducing the farm subsidies in the European Union that predominantly benefit French farmers. Poor nations have called on the wealthy nations to drop their $1 billion a day in agricultural support, which distorts world trade and makes it harder for developing nations to sell their goods. But the president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said the commission recognized the need for "major reductions in trade-distorting domestic support and in all forms of export subsidies." Despite powerful speeches on sustainable development from some of the leaders, the plan of implementation that negotiators have worked on for the past week was a compromise that provides a moral imperative for action on the major summit themes - water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity - but which does not commit countries to the specific targets that poor states wanted. "The draft implementation plan is not going to be a strong document," warned the South African foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. "To be honest, if you are negotiating with the world, you can't get everybody to accept a strong agreement. By definition it will have to be accepted by a wide variety of countries."

The Friends of the Earth environmental group said the plan was disappointing because it set no rules for corporate accountability, was subordinate to a trade agenda dominated by industrialized countries, set no targets for renewable energy, did not deal adequately with farm subsidies and watered down goals for protecting biodiversity. Nonetheless, it recognized that the implementation plan did not represent any retreat from the commitments that the world made at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The political declaration that the leaders will approve at the end of the summit meeting recognized a place for private corporations in achieving environmental and development aims.

.Some of the activist groups have called the conference a sell-out to corporate interests. A coalition led by Friends of the Earth had demanded a binding international system of accountability to control the multinational companies. Although this bid failed, a draft copy of the final declaration indicated that the leaders would instruct the UN General Assembly to pursue "the matter of corporate responsibility and the social contribution of the private sector." The powerful business lobby here, hoping to benefit from new partnerships with UN agencies or other groups, has rejected the notion of international corporate accountability. Blair acknowledged that the issues debated at the summit meeting involved "painful decisions, vested interests and legitimate anxieties," but he added that a failure of political will to act could lead to disaster. "Poverty and environmental degradation spell catastrophe for our world," Blair said. Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, reminded the delegates that 13 million people not far from the conference room were threatened with famine. "If any reminder were needed of what happens when we fail to plan for and protect the long-term future of our planet, it can be heard in the cries for help from those 13 million people," Annan said. 


Associated Press
3 September 2002

"It is time to close the gap between words and deeds. Each day, tens of thousands of children die because of hunger or diseases that are easy to cure. This is totally unacceptable and unworthy of the global community. It is time to bring about real change for the people who need it most." - Goran Persson, prime minister of Sweden. "More than ever before, the choice facing the world is a united future, or no future at all. The prospect of that united future, free of poverty and environmental degradation, is what has brought us here to Johannesburg. We know what we have to do. So let's do it."

Jan Balkenende, prime minister of the Netherlands.  "We can no longer allow ourselves economic growth at the expense of the abuse of the planet's natural resources or from social exclusion. We require development with a human face, based on the fight against poverty and the environmental degradation."

Vicente Fox , president of Mexico.  "The last ten years since Rio have been most disappointing. The achievements are far outnumbered by the failures - the dashed hopes, the missed chances and the empty pledges that litter the road since Rio."

Maumoon Gayoom, president of Maldives.  "We come here in the name of sustainable development, a fashionable phrase with a comforting almost reassuring ring to it. But it is really about the salvation of the Earth. It is about stopping humankind from grossly abusing and destroying Earth's resources."

Aisenia Qarase, prime minister of Fiji.  "The Middle East has enshrined its place in world history as the center of innovation - spiritually, culturally and otherwise. Let our generation be the first to generate regeneration. - Shimon Peres, foreign minister of Israel.  "As we review the past decade's accomplishments since Rio in 1992, we have to conclude unfortunately that environmental degradation remains a serious threat to our planet, as demonstrated by continued loss of biodiversity, desertification, sharp climate change and global warming.”

Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda.

"As the world's largest developing country and a major player in environment protection, China is an important force in international environment protection. We are deeply aware of the responsibilities on our shoulders. If we do a good job in running China well, it will be a great contribution to the world cause of sustainable development." - Zhu Rongji, premier of China. 


3 September 2002

From the overfishing of the oceans, to the life-or-death problem of poverty across the continents, the subjects discussed at the Earth Summit are among the biggest imaginable. Below are the headline resolutions signed by world leaders in Johannesburg


The agreement

Failed to set any targets increasing renewable energy, thus falling short of one of the most important yardsticks for success. It did agree to phase out harmful subsidies "where appropriate", but included passages boosting nuclear power and the fossil fuels that are the main cause of global warming.

How it was reached

The way in which the world gets its energy was the most important issue at the summit, and the last big one to be settled. Attempts to increase the rate of renewable energy - wind, wave and solar - were stymied by opposition from the world's major oil producers (Opec) and oil's biggest consumer, the United States.

The EU and Latin America wanted a global target to boost the use of renewable energy sources, but the US, Japan and Opec (which managed to persuade most of the rest of the developing countries) frustrated all attempts to establish one. Latin America wanted to quadruple the world's share of clean renewable energy - such as solar and wind power - by 2010. The EU settled on a more modest target which would have increased it by just one per cent over the decade and included controversial big dams and the wood and dung burning that kill more than two million people a year. Green groups accused the US of getting the world to toe the line of its domestic oil lobby, an accusation Washington rejected. Meanwhile, ratifications to the Kyoto protocol on climate change increased to 89. But this number is almost irrelevant since the treaty will not come into force until countries emitting 55 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide ratify, and there is still some way to go to that. The United States pulled out of Kyoto last year. The agreed summit text says nations that have ratified Kyoto "strongly urge" the other states to ratify it in "a timely manner".

Will it make a difference?

It will not do much good, and could make things worse. But some developing countries announced that they would press ahead with renewable energy anyway.


The agreement

Agreement was reached on a specific target to halve the estimated 2.4 billion people presently living without basic sanitation facilities by the year 2015.

How it was reached

The main opposition to this commitment came, once again, from the United States. Washington long opposed the goal, mainly because it has a longstanding aversion towards setting targets in principle. "It is no secret that targets for targets sake have never been a priority," said the US Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, John Turner.

But, as the week went on, the United States became more and more isolated, with allies on other contentious issues - like the Opec countries, Canada, Japan and even the big business lobby - calling for the target to be agreed. In the end it had no choice but to give in. Standing alone against providing adequate sanitation for people was just too much even for George Bush's administration to take.

The deal, reached in the early hours of yesterday morning, was welcomed by many development charities as marking an important step towards preventing more than two million deaths a year from diseases caused by people drinking dirty water. It completes plans laid out in the United Nations' 2000 Millennium Declaration to halve, by 2015, the number of people - more than a billion - who are unable to reach, or afford, safe drinking water.

Reaching agreement on this target was the minimum condition for the summit being able to claim that it had made any progress at all. Failure to agree it would have been a clear signal that the leaders - for all their rhetoric, did not care about the health of poor children. It would have reduced the conference to a fiasco.

Will it make a difference?

Yes, if nations act now to implement what they have promised to do. It could drastically cut the number of people, mainly children , who die because they drink polluted water.


The agreement

To establish a solidarity fund to wipe out poverty, "the greatest global challenge facing the world today". But contributions to the fund are voluntary.

How it was reached

The over-arching aim of the Johannesburg Earth Summit was to bridge the income gap between the world's richest and poorest, while ensuring the environment is not harmed in the process. But the sprawling agenda and divergent interests meant there were compromises aplenty in the summit agreement, some of which were attacked by civic and environmental groups as significant steps backward from previous commitments.

Promises and pledges came from a number of different world leaders:

  • The French President, Jacques Chirac, called for an international solidarity tax to fight world poverty, telling the summit that current levels of development aid were inadequate.

  • The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, announced that Italy was prepared to cancel €4bn (£2.5bn) in debt to poor countries.

  • Germany offered €500m (£318m) over five years for renewable energy projects.

  • Japan promised $30m (£19m) in emergency food aid for children facing famine in southern Africa.

The income gap between the richest nations and the poorest, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, has widened enormously over the last few decades. Per capita income in many countries is now lower than it was 20 years ago.

The number of people living on less than $1 a day declined slightly in the Nineties, to 1.2 billion from 1.3 billion largely because of progress in India and China. But in the richest couple of dozen countries, average income per head is more than $60 a day while Americans have nearly $100 a day.

Will it make a difference?

Not a lot. The real goals - to halve dire poverty by 2015 were decided by the Millennium Summit two years ago. The test will be whether countries meet them.


The agreement

To end the subsidies that encourage the plundering of Third World fisheries by the West and restore fish stocks by 2015 at the latest, recognising oceans are essential to the ecosystem and a critical source of food, especially in poor countries.

How it was reached

The first significant deal of the summit. All 190 countries agreed to restore all the world's fisheries to commercial health by 2015. The deal, reached on the second day of negotiations, means all countries will be responsible for reversing declines in fish stocks or maintaining them at a healthy level and ensuring the level of catches is sufficiently low that the fish can be taken indefinitely. But environmentalists said the deal, aimed at replenishing fishing stocks to commercial health by 2015, was a classic example of "too little to late". Fish stocks worldwide are in crisis with more than 70 per cent of commercially important stocks either over-exploited, depleted, or close to the maximum sustainable level of exploitation. Consumption of fish has increased by 240 per cent since 1960

Will it make a difference?

It could do. But the wording of the agreement is not particularly strong, and many fishing nations have so far strongly resisted tough controls.


The agreement

To make a significant cut to the rate at which rare animals and plants are becoming extinct, by 2010.

How it was reached

Environmentalists expressed dismay at the wording, which is less strong than an equivalent resolution agreed at another international conference as recently as April. The new non-binding proposal is aimed at curbing the destruction of habitats such as rain forests, wetlands and coral reefs, which is driving animal and plant species to extinction. Nobody knows, even within millions, how many species there are on earth, but it seems that human activities are precipitating the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. Great holes could be torn in the web of life, with incalculable consequences. The target was set despite resistance from the US and the G77 group of developing countries, but remains weak and largely meaningless. The Worldwide Fund for Nature said: "The Plan of Implementation will not provide significant movement forwards ... In some cases it actually constitutes a step backwards."

Will it make a difference?

Precious little in itself. There is nothing here but a vague and weak aspiration - and no concrete measures to make sure that the extinctions are actually slowed.


The agreement

A World Trade Organisation accord on patents should not prevent poor countries providing medicines for all - a key issue because they often cannot afford Aids drugs.

How it was reached

A disagreement on health is still delaying delegates from finally signing off on the plan, and will be brought up again today.

Women's reproductive rights became a sticking point at the summit. The problems were over a paragraph calling for better health services "consistent with national laws and cultural and religious values".

Some countries feared the wording could endorse the practice of genital mutilation, common in parts of the Horn of Africa. And the United States questioned a reference to human or women's rights, on the ground that it might tacitly endorse abortion, a subject that is still proving to be highly controversial in many parts of the US.

The trouble is that the UN recorded the paragraph as agreed in preliminary negotiations - even though it was not.

Will it make a difference?

This is a hugely sensitive and potentially explosive issue. We do not know how the differences will be settled, but it is very dangerous to alter international formulas painstakingly put together at previous conferences.


The agreement

Boosts trade but avoids laying down that World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules override global environmental treaties. Seen as victory for environmental groups who feared deals such as the Kyoto protocol, and a treaty allowing countries to stop GM imports could be undermined.

How it was reached

Until late on Sunday it looked as if the WTO would be given powers over the environmental treaties. Only Norway and Switzerland were holding out. Then the chief Ethiopian negotiator - Tewolde Egziabher - made a speech that dramatically changed opinion, bringing other developing countries and the EU out against the plan and isolating the US. The final text saying nations will "continue to enhance the mutual supportiveness of trade, environment and development" was revised to omit the clause "while ensuring WTO consistency". It veers little from that agreed at a WTO meeting in Doha, Qatar. It repeats commitments to negotiations with a view to phasing out agriculture and other trade-distorting subsidies.

Will it make a difference?

Giving the WTO supremacy would have made a huge and very damaging difference. The change restores an uneasy status quo 


South African Press Association (Johannesburg)
3 September  2002

South Africa's leading negotiators at the Johannesburg World Summit expressed satisfaction on Tuesday with the outcome of talks on a new action plan for the planet. "As an overall package it is the best that we could have expected in the circumstances... the sense of pride felt in being South African and being able to deal with all these issues is immense," Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin said.

There were some demands for inclusion that even non- governmental organisations (NGOs) should acknowledge were "just politically unrealistic". "No serious NGO can say this is not a new agenda. "With all due respect to NGOs, when they see the full text they will all agree it is a major step forward... no serious NGO can say it is not a new agenda," he told reporters at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The plan of action has been lambasted by environmental lobbyists, with Friends of the Earth International giving it a 22 percent "report card" score. Negotiators reached agreement on the final major outstanding issue -- that of renewable energy -- on Monday night, and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation is currently being "gavelled" by the Vienna Group. The final document is to be presented to the main committee of ministers at 9pm on Tuesday. The Vienna Group consists of the various global regional groupings represented by the present chair country for that region. Erwin said the final text involved at least 41 substantive agreements related to the environment, including references to the Kyoto Protocol  on Climate Change, biodiversity, sustainable production and consumption, and energy. On renewable energy, he said: "It's not targets but there's absolutely no question about it, this is a new issue on the sustainable development agenda". There was a strong commitment from individual countries to move towards renewable energy sources, and many had stated that they would be setting national or regional timetables, he said. South Africa will announce its own target later this year.

Some countries, and the European Union in particular, had wanted a target of 15 percent renewable sources by 2010, but the proposal was blocked by the United States, Japan and oil-producing nations. Erwin said the agreement on renewable energy was basically the EU position minus the target.  Environmental Affairs Minister Valli Moosa, who chairs the committee of ministers negotiating group, said the document took the matter of renewables forward, by placing it firmly on the global agenda. Significantly, there was a strong commitment to phase out subsidies on fossil fuel production, as well as to provide universal access to energy. The removal of these subsidies would open the market for renewable energy sources -- such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass. The target of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 was also significant, especially for South Africa, and the agreement on this issue also expanded the instrument to protect biological diversity to the high seas, he said. Erwin said that the paragraphs on trade for the first time provided clarity on the relationship between multilateral trade negotiations, development issues and environmental issues. They also strongly reinforced the Doha Declaration.

"Politically, we could not have expected the EU to go beyond Doha," he said. All countries agreed at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in Doha, Qatar late last year to talks on increasing market access for developing countries and to remove the massive subsidies granted to farmers in the EU and US. Erwin added that Moosa had received a standing ovation from the about 300 negotiators at the conclusion of talks on the Johannesburg document. Speaking earlier, WSSD secretary-general Nitin Desai said the summit had achieved its main objectives; that of putting sustainable development back on the world agenda and creating a sense of urgency to protect the planet.

It had also produced scores of partnership initiatives across a wide range of sectors, but in particular on water and sanitation, and energy, he said. The summit has agreed to move to halve the number of people in the world without access to sanitation by 2015.

However, one last sticking point relating to paragraph 47 remains in the final text. The issue, which involves health and women's' rights issues and could have a bearing on female circumcision, will be left for the main committee of ministers on Tuesday evening to decide on whether the paragraph should be reopened for negotiation. The plan of action, along with a political declaration, are expected to be adopted at the conclusion of the summit on Wednesday.[WSSD] 


Environment News Service
3 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, September 2, 2002 (ENS) - Agreements made over the past week should enable world leaders gathered in South Africa to emerge from the World Summit on Sustainable Development with a concrete plan of action that will give meaning to the summit's theme - People, Planet and Prosperity, South African President Thabo Mbeki said Monday. Opening the world leaders session of the summit, he said billions of people expect a clear answer on whether leaders are ready to respond to pressing development challenges. Mbeki thanked ministers and other delegates who have, for the past seven days, been battling to find consensus on a blueprint to reduce global poverty without destroying the environment.  Last-minute talks through the night Sunday to finalize the draft plan of action resolved most sticking points, with only health and energy issues reported to be outstanding.  The summit, under the auspices of the United Nations opened August 26 and will be concluded by September 4. For the next few days heads of state and government from 103 countries will give short addresses to the gathering.  Mbeki said the pressure on world leaders to act was underlined by protest marches on the Sandton Convention Centre over the weekend.  "Two days ago," he said, "people took to the streets of Johannesburg to give voice to the demand that our summit meeting must produce practical and meaningful results on very specific matters. The same message has been communicated from the many meetings held by representatives of civil society as part of this great gathering of the peoples of the world." "I am certain that the billions of people of the world on whose mandate we occupy our seats, expect a very clear and unambiguous answer to the question whether we are ready and able to respond to the pressing challenges of sustainable development," said Mbeki. "The message is simply this: that we can and must act in unity to ensure that there is a practical and visible global development process that brings about poverty eradication and human advancement within the context of the protection of the ecology of the planet Earth." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on his audience, which included numerous heads of state and heads of government from across the world, to take responsibility for each other, "especially the poor, the vulnerable, and the oppressed, as fellow members of a single human family."  Illustrating the pressing nature of the problems at hand, Annan pointed out that in the very region where the meeting is being held millions of people face the looming peril of starvation.  "Not far from this conference room, in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, 13 million people are threatened with famine," he pointed out. "If any reminder were needed of what happens when we fail to plan for and protect the long term future of our planet, it can be heard in the cries for help from those 13 million souls."  Annan said that "governments cannot do it alone," and emphasized the need for public-private partnerships to make development truly sustainable. Civil society groups have a critical role "as partners, advocates and watchdogs."  Commercial enterprises too must play their part in achieving sustainable development. "We are not asking corporations to do something different from their normal business; we are asking them to do their normal business differently," he said.  At the summit to date, the United Nations has announced 218 partnerships that pledge over two billion U.S. dollars towards public-private initiatives in the areas of water, energy, health, agriculture, biodiversity, science and education, and finance, trade and technology transfers.  On the government level, the European Union has pledged to reform its system of agricultural subsidies and tariff barriers that is blamed for making it difficult for rural farmers in the developing world to eke out more than a bare existence.  "We recognize the importance of agriculture for developing countries and we agree that tariff reduction is not enough," European Commission President Romano Prodi told the gathering of world leaders. "Major reductions in trade-distorting support and in all forms of export subsidies are also needed," he said.  "Today in Johannesburg, humanity has a date with destiny," declared French President Jacques Chirac, recalling how South Africans led by Nelson Mandela overcame apartheid divisions. "Our house is burning down and we are blind to it," Chirac said.  U.S. President George W. Bush is the only leader of a major power who will not be speaking at the summit. The United States will be represented by Secretary of State Colin Powell who is not expected to arrive until September 4.  President Mbeki will host a high-level dialogue on the future of multilateralism on Tuesday. The session will be attended by heads of state from developed and developing countries, leaders of the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. "The focus of the event will be on how to effectively implement the sustainable development agenda emerging from the World Summit on Sustainable Development as a culmination of the multilateral commitments adopted in previous global summits," the Government of South Africa said in a statement.  Those expected to attend include United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, World Bank president James Wolfensohn, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and the World Trade Organization's Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi.  As world leaders addressed the plenary session this morning, negotiators continued to work behind the scenes to come to a consensus on the outstanding issue of energy.  "Everything has been agreed except for the paragraph relating to energy and a sentence on health care services in Africa," said Lowell Flanders, senior United Nations adviser coordinating the drafting groups.  The ministerial group reconvened this morning to work on the proposals for renewable energy targets, subsidies to encourage the replacement of nuclear and fossil fuels with renewable energy technologies, and to decide whether these initiatives should be implemented by a global plan of action or decentralized approaches.  Negotiators broke through to agreement on renewable energy sources, the last major stumbling block in the Action Plan, Danish delegate Thomas Becker said.  The text agreed by the ministers calls on all countries to, "With a sense of urgency, substantially increase the global share of renewable energy sources, with the objective of increasing its contribution to total energy supply..." It sets no percentage target, nor any target date. The European Union has been pushing for a target of making 15 percent of energy come from sources such as windmills, solar panels and waves by 2015.  The United States is opposed to those targets, judging them unrealistic, and so are petroleum producing countries.  Last night, issues of governance, trade, finance and globalization were settled. At the last minute, language acknowledging the mutual supportiveness of trade, environment and development "while ensuring WTO [World Trade Organization] consistency" was removed from the document.  This morning, the United Nations announced that countries had agreed to halve the number of individuals without access to proper sanitation by the year 2015. Recognizing the crucial need to address issues of water and sanitation to accomplish sustainable development goals, this new initiative works in conjunction with the already agreed upon Millennium Development Goal to reduce by half, the number of people who lack access to clean water by the year 2015.  


Jamaica Observer
2 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Since Saturday night, the Caribbean and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been hopping mad over the direction of negotiations within the Group of 77 (G77), which will ultimately speak for them at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) now taking place in this South African city. Questions are being raised as to the usefulness of their being part of the G77 process and high-level sources have gone so far as to suggest that the process may have been hijacked. Sources say the tendency is for bigger, developed and oil-producing countries to oppose the setting of energy targets that will see investment in cleaner renewable sources and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change. Vested interests are opposed to targets, which will hurt their economies by reducing demand for petroleum products. As negotiations proceed, there have been trade-offs of one set of targets for another. On Saturday night, the energy targets were traded for those on sanitation to the chagrin of the now muted SIDS. Commenting on the trade-off, energy expert, Professor Al Binger of the University of the West Indies Centre for Environment and Development said: "There are no specifics yet as to what percentage and in what period. But just the general principle that we would trade energy targets to get sanitation is unacceptable. What we are talking about is just two different forms of pollution; one that is local in impact and one that is global. If you look at it, sanitation is basically a health issue, particularly for poor populations, while global climate change is one that's going to affect, disproportionately, countries like our own, and by not setting targets, what we will see is continued pollution of the global commons by those who have been using it for years." Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union are the only regional blocs that have reached consensus on the need to set targets on energy. The deliberations at the sustainable development summit are focused on five major issues:

  • energy;

  • health;

  • water and sanitation;

  • biodiversity and ecosystems; and

  • agricultural productivity.


Asked whether or not the trends in the negotiations are an indication of the final position, Professor Binger said while people are talking, there is always hope, but given the extended period over which they have been negotiating and the little progress made on things like reduction of energy subsidies, as well as the unwillingness of countries to consider effective ways to build energy partnerships, "....we might not be able to salvage a lot from this". He suggested that the next option for the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) might be to focus a lot harder on the upcoming review of the SIDS agenda in Barbados in 2004. Not holding out much hope however, Binger said Barbados + 10 will only be focusing on small island states and there will not be any great probability of getting the kind of international agreements that will roll back or in any way alter the kinds of agreements that will come out of the WSSD. An AOSIS leadership summit at 3:00 pm yesterday hoped to figure out what strategies to pursue and how to proceed. One of the weaknesses of the Caribbean is the inadequacy of the number of leaders here. This has hurt the region because only high-level leadership gets access to the floor of the summit and gets listened to. As a consequence, the Caribbean has had to depend on the AOSIS as a collective group of small islands to carry the burden of the negotiations for the region. A resolute Binger, who voiced sentiments similar to other members of delegations from Caricom, declared, "If our future is imperiled, we can't be silent. We have to speak up and now is the time to speak up. We have to be willing to go on record if things don't go like they should, to express our disappointment and to ask the leadership of the world to reconsider a lot of their positions". He said that while we will be among the first to suffer as small island states, as we are finding out from the floods all over the world, this is not going to be something that discriminates. "Everybody, sooner or later, is going to feel the impacts of growing pollution."

The latest report from an Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change has confirmed suggestions that island states within the tropics that are vulnerable to climatic variability and events like hurricanes will be among the first to suffer the negative impacts of climate change.

Since the discussions on climate change began, the SIDS have been pressing for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They want early ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, progress on a clean development mechanism and a shift away from fossil-based energy systems. Most members of AOSIS are petroleum dependent. Development of alternative renewable energy sources would provide economic as well as environmental benefits. There is also concern at the highest levels within Caricom delegations that the process of hammering out a final Political Declaration has taken an unusual turn. The United Nations Bureau in New York, which facilitated participation in the process leading up to Johannesburg, was dismantled after the last Preparatory Committee meeting in Bali, Indonesia. Now, nobody seems to know what's in the Political Declaration, which will be the final surprise of the conference.

Asked to comment on this, Professor Binger said, "I consider that somebody has hijacked a lot of our freedoms". 


Associated Press
2 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - With world leaders pushing for action, negotiators at the World Summit agreed Monday on a plan geared to help the globe's poorest people while reversing environmental declines.  Agreement came as participants resolved the last main sticking points in a 70-page action blueprint that seeks solutions to a range of issues - energy, clean water, health and sanitation.

The plan urged using a variety of energy sources that included both wind and solar power as well as fossil fuels - a victory for the United States and other oil-producing countries.  "Humanity has a rendezvous with destiny," French President Jacques Chirac declared. Alarms are sounding across all the continents. We cannot say that we did not know!"  "The persistence of mass poverty is outrageous and an aberration," Chirac said. The world, he said, "is suffering from poor development, in both the North and South, and we stand indifferent."

The 10-day conference, which started a week ago and ends Wednesday, aims to shape an agreement to turn promises made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, into reality.  U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the more than 100 world leaders in Johannesburg to commit to firm action to solve problems identified a decade ago at Rio.  "The model of development we are accustomed to has been fruitful for the few, but flawed for the many," Annan said. "A path to prosperity that ravages the environment and leaves a majority of humankind behind in squalor will soon prove to be a dead-end road for everyone."  "Here in Johannesburg we must do more."  The agreed text includes a commitment to "urgently" increase the use of renewable energy sources, but sets no deadlines. Developing countries had sided with the United States and Japan against including targets that the European Union sought.  The United States and oil-producing countries had resisted targets, arguing that concrete projects were more important than paper agreements.  "The document clearly highlights the need to increase access to modern energy services and signals the valuable role renewable energy will play in the future," said Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, head of the U.S. delegation. Compromises were also reached in climate change, trade and sanitation.  The negotiators also called for a reduction in the number of people living without sanitation from 2 billion currently to 1 billion by 2015.  Despite the Bush administration's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, it accepted language that says nations backing Kyoto "strongly urge" states that have not done so to ratify it in "a timely manner."`  Kyoto got another boost Monday when Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who had been wavering on whether to ratify, confirmed he would submit it to parliament by the end of the year.  But the accord cannot go into effect unless Russia - the crucial holdout - signs on too. The EU issued a "solemn appeal" to Moscow to join them in ratifying, but Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said his government was not ready to decide.  The trade agreements urged countries to reform subsidies that are environmentally harmful, such as those for the fishing industry that contribute to overcapacity.  The United States accepted the new timetable despite earlier insistence that the way to get results is through concrete projects, not paper agreements.  Negotiators agreed to emphasize the need for good governance to achieve sustainable development, but did not make it a condition for receiving aid as advocated by the United States, diplomats said.  Though President Bush declined to come - sending U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in his place - U.S. officials say they are firmly committed to the summit's success.  "We've reached a real breakthrough with the summit in our collective attempt to ensure that this is a successful gathering of the global family," said Assistant Secretary of State John Turner.  Turner said the text went "beyond anything the world community had done before" in stressing the need to fight corruption and promote democracy and the rule of law.  A host of civic and environmental groups condemned the compromises, calling some of them a significant step backward from previous commitments.  "Economic interests were allowed to maintain their primacy over other global priorities," said Kim Carstensen of World Wildlife Fund International.  World leaders have yet to formally adopt the nonbinding agreement but they insisted the most important measure of success would be whether the summit ends with concrete plans to tackle the problems first identified in Rio 10 years ago.  Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi announced Italy was prepared to cancel $4 billion in debt to poor countries. Germany offered $500 million over five years for renewable energy projects. Japan promised $30 million in emergency food aid for children facing famine in southern Africa.  "This is not charity, it is an investment in our collective future," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. 


Associated Press
2 September 2002

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - The world's oil producers met here Monday for an industry summit aimed at cleaning up their image as enemies of the environment.  More than 3,000 delegates from 59 oil producing or consuming nations opened the 17th World Petroleum Congress, amid pledges to safeguard the environment, seek cleaner-burning fuels and reduce the gases blamed for global warming.  For the first time, environmental defenders such as Greenpeace, Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund were invited to the meetings to witness the industry's concern for "sustainable development."  "Oil companies have to continuously seek out new, alternative ways of doing business which will have the least impact on the environment," India's oil minister, Ram Naik, told the convention.

Naik urged governments and oil companies to share "clean" technologies and redouble efforts to protect the environment. He said that India, with a market of about 1 billion people, has followed Brazil's lead in mixing gasoline with ethanol to reduce emissions of polluting greenhouse gases.  "It is no longer possible for any of us to carry out our oil or gas exploitation activities without proper regard to the broader issues of environmental protection," said Lew Watts, group managing director of Shell Sustainable Development and Latin America.  He told delegates that the energy industry is at least "partially responsible" for the damage inflicted on the environment by extraordinary population growth and human activity this past century.  For Norwegian petroleum minister Einar Steensnaes, not enough has been done to implement the sweeping promises to protect the environment issued at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. A followup summit, in Johannesburg, South Africa, ends Wednesday.  "Fossil fuels, at least for the next 20 or 30 years, will constitute the main source of energy in meeting increased global demand," Steensnaes said. "Coal, oil and natural gas all contribute in varying to degrees to ... increasing the level of greenhouse gases."  "Ten years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, we once again need to address the links between energy and the environment," he said. "Unfortunately the progress since Rio has been slower than anticipated."  Under the banner of "The Petroleum Industry: Excellence and Responsibility in Serving Society," the delegates invited 35 non-governmental organizations to recommend social and environmental programs for the oil industry. Even a recycling center for the tons of garbage produced by the congress was set up at the site.  But for some groups, the environment-friendly spin was simply for show.  "I think it's greenwash," said Frank Guggenheim, executive director of Greenpeace in Brazil. "We are participating so they can't say we're against dialogue, but I don't think the people at the conference are serious about protecting the environment ... They talk about environment, but from the point of view of accidents, you have to be a little skeptical."  The possibility of war in Iraq and the impact on world oil prices has also shadowed the summit. An OPEC meeting on Sept. 19 in Osaka, Japan, is to decide future production levels for the oil cartel.  A conflict in the Middle East could disrupt supplies from the oil-rich region. Last week, amid fears of a U.S. attack, oil prices rose to around dlrs 30 a barrel.

Other oil producers could raise output to cover the shortfall. In June, Russian oil companies rejected an appeal by OPEC to voluntarily limit production, ending government-imposed export restrictions and boosting production.  Ali Rodriguez, the president of Petroleos de Venezuela, said Monday that Venezuela has the capacity to greatly increase current oil output of 3 million barrels per day. But he said any additional pumping would depend on the decisions of OPEC, which opposes an increase in the quota system and is likely to maintain that standing at their next meeting.  Among the delegates were energy ministers from Great Britain, Algeria, Canada, Cuba and Venezuela. Also present were top executives from oil giants such as ChevronTexaco Corp., ExxonMobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell.  


Inter Press Service
2 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, Sep 2 (IPS) - In an effort to inject credibility into the largest-ever United Nations summit, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Monday called on the world's richest countries to take the lead in designing a concrete plan to improve the lives of the world's poor without destroying the planet.  "The richest countries must lead the way. They have the wealth. They have the technology. And they contribute disproportionately to global  environmental problems," Annan told nearly 100 world leaders gathered here for the opening session of the heads of state meeting at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). He also underscored the importance of businesses and non-governmental groups (NGOs) helping to achieve the goals of sustainable development. "Civil society groups have a critical role, as partners, advocates and watchdogs," Annan added in his address during the final stage of the 10-day WSSD.  NGOs lobbying to secure a range of commitments from governments have begun raising the alarm that the summit may endorse a program of action that will mean very little to the world's poor and to developing countries.  The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the leading NGOs lobbying for concrete language in the summit's final document, declared Sunday that the plan being negotiated by delegates from 190 countries is woefully short of what the WSSD promised to deliver.  "The Plan of Implementation as it currently stands will not provide significant movement forwards from commitments made in Rio and since," it stated. "In some cases the text actually constitutes a step backwards (as in trade and globalization)."  Particularly troubling for NGOs is some countries' attempts to water down the agreement regarding such issues as the use of renewable sources of energy, targets for access to water and improved sanitation, reforming global trade and agriculture subsidies.  The leaders of Germany, France and Britain must play a pivotal role to save the Johannesburg summit, said Gerd Leipold of Greenpeace. "It will require a Herculean effort on their part but it must be done here and now." But some Third World leaders assembled here to review progress towards sustainability since the 1992 Earth Summit, expect little will change due to domination of the free trade agenda, also called neo-liberalism, in global affairs.  Among them is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who told government leaders Monday the "neo-liberal model is guilty for the disasters of the world, and we need to fight against it".  "I say to the world one more time that we must change this model, because there is no development without humanism," added Chavez who heads the Group of 77, which is made up of 133 developing nations. "It is not possible to develop the world according to this model."  These continuing calls for real results from the meeting received a boost from an international poll.  "If it were up to the will of average citizens, the World Summit on Sustainable Development would require national governments to deliver on time-bound commitments towards reducing poverty and resolving environmental problems," states the report of a survey of 24,000 people in 31 countries.  Released by London-based Gallup International and Toronto's Environics International on Aug. 29, 'Voice of the People' reveals "a global public opinion climate that is very receptive to major initiatives to reduce poverty".  The results, from interviews held in July and August this year, reflect the views of "almost 1 billion people on all continents except North America", claim the firms.  In September 2000, world leaders from 191 nations pledged at the Millennium Summit to combat specific global problems by 2015.  These pledges, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), included slashing by half the number of people living on less than one U.S. dollar a day, the number of people suffering from hunger and the number of people without access to safe and affordable drinking water.  Further, the MDGs also seek to ensure: that all children are given primary schooling; gender equality in education; a three-quarters reduction in the maternal mortality rate and a two-thirds drop in deaths of children under five.  Today, close to 800 million people do not get enough to eat, over one billion people lack access to clean water, some 2.4 billion people do not have basic sanitation facilities and close to 325 million boys and girls are not in school, according to the United Nations.  Senior U.N. officials view the Millennium Summit as a step forward from the Earth Summit, when the world leaders gathered for the first time to link development and environmental problems and find common solutions. The idea of sustainable development was affirmed at that gathering.  


2 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, 2 September 2002 - Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, vented his frustration with slow government decision-making at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg by urging business to press ahead with development initiatives.  Mr Annan told delegates at the World Summit's showcase business day not to wait for governments to make decisions and laws to promote development in the world's poorest countries and environmental protection.  "The corporate sector need not wait for governments to take decisions," he said.  "We realise that only by mobilising the corporate sector that we can make significant progress."  Mr Annan warned that the yawning inequalities between the developed and developing worlds were "fundamentally unstable". He appealed to company executives not to allow extreme social differences to persist by investing in some of the world's least developed countries.  Companies have attended the Johannesburg World Summit in much greater numbers than the Rio Earth Summit 10 years ago. About 700 companies, including oil and mining companies, are represented at the summit. Business organisations, such as Paris-based Business Action for Sustainable Development, are showcasing development partnerships while lobbying against the imposition of multilateral rules to enforce greater corporate accountability - including labour and environmental standards - in the developing world.

Mr Annan's comments came as ministers prepared to work through the night to reach agreement on the summit text before the arrival of heads of state to address the conference today. Although the European Union has maintained a strong stance throughout the talks, it appeared likely it would climb down on some in the face of US opposition.  Its strongest demand remains agreeing a target on access to sanitation. There were suggestions that to achieve this, it might drop support for a Brazilian proposal for a new target for 10 per cent of energy production to come from non-hydro renewable sources. The prospect of such a trade-off caused concern to business and environmentalists. European oil companies such as BP and Shell have urged Tony Blair, British prime minister, to back the targets.

James Cameron, environmental lawyer at Baker & MacKenzie, the international law firm, said: "The EU must call the US bluff on this. There is plenty of support within the US business community for new targets on renewables. This is the sort of target which could have a profound effect on investment decisions. To trade off renewables for sanitation would be a sad state of affairs."  The only substantial agreements remain those to protect fish stocks in international waters and minimise the use of toxic chem-icals. However, an agreement on trade and finance over the extent to which World Trade Organisation rules support environmental objectives appeared close.  The heads of state who will address the summit today include Mr Blair, French President Jacques Chirac, and Chancellor Gerhard Schroder of Germany.

However, there is a chance they will be overshadowed by the appearance of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, whose policies have been blamed for worsening the plight of 6m people who face starvation following the southern African drought.


Washington File
2 September 2002

Johannesburg, South Africa -- Officials at the World Summit on Sustainable Development cautioned that the world's ecosystems and biodiversity -- the variety of plant and animal life -- would continue to erode unless governments take immediate action to address environmental degradation and the overuse of natural resources. Speaking to a plenary session that included summit delegates, community activists and U.N. agency representatives, High-Level Advisor for the United Nations Environment Program Peter Schei said August 30 that biodiversity could be seen as an insurance policy for life itself, and that the summit's declaration and implementation program should contain the strongest recommendations possible for better ecosystem management. The plenary was one in a series focusing on five thematic areas identified by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as key to progress at the summit -- water, energy, health, agricultural productivity and biodiversity. In a May 14 speech, Annan stressed that biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate -- as much as a thousand times what it would be without the impact of human activity. "Half of the tropical rainforests have already been lost," he said. "About 75 percent of marine fisheries have been fished to capacity, and 70 percent of coral reefs are endangered." A recent draft report outlining U.S. government initiatives in sustainable development says that not since the disappearance of the dinosaurs has the rate of species extinction been higher. It adds that an estimated 1,000 species per year are proceeding toward extinction, and that virtually all of this loss is caused by human activities, mostly through habitat destruction and over-hunting. Schei told the summit plenary that estimates of the economic impact of protecting biodiversity could provide impetus for action. He said it was estimated that the value of overall ecosystem services is estimated at over $33,000,000 million. While the figure could be debated, he said, "the extreme value of ensuring functioning ecosystems and the biodiversity interplay -- at least in the economic sense -- was undeniable." He added that the international community could not forget the scientific, recreational and cultural value of ensuring biodiversity. Schei said there had been some achievements; major treaties, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, had been developed, some species had been saved and tracts of land were under protection. But, he was sad to say, many of those initiatives remained in effect only on paper; protected areas were in fact not very well protected, and many treaties went unimplemented. "To overcome some of the challenges facing biodiversity today it is important to promote knowledge, information sharing and education, as well as to develop human and institutional capacities, and financing," he said.

Uganda's environment minister told the plenary that the biggest proportion of biodiversity was in the developing world and that poverty was contributing to its loss. In his country, for example, 90 percent of fuel needs were provided by wood. In that regard, he urged the international community to help developing countries develop hydropower. Hamdallah Zedan, executive secretary of the Convention on Biodiversity, said that biological diversity generated a wide range of goods and services on which national economies depend, and that the causes for its loss were human induced -- the same driving forces behind other environmental problems, such as climate change and desertification. He said it was necessary to address all the various causes in an integrated manner. India's environment minister said his country's conservation strategy depends heavily on partnerships and cooperation with all stakeholders. He called on the international community to put in place a mechanism for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Summit Spokeswoman Susan Markham said that the United Nations so far has received submissions from 17 biodiversity partnerships between governments, non-governmental organizations and international groups with almost $100 million in resources to support actions throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to a report outlining U.S. government initiatives, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has supported sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity conservation in more than 60 countries over the last nine years. Perhaps the largest and most unique of these conservation efforts is focused on the Meso-American Biological Corridor, a network of rainforests and other pristine ecosystems spanning an area from Mexico to Panama. Although Central America accounts for only 0.5 percent of the world's total land surface, it contains an estimated seven percent of the planet's known biodiversity. Over the course of a six-year, $37.5-million program, USAID is working in the corridor alongside a host of partners, including several governments, U.S. and local NGOs and others to provide technical assistance and financial support for improved protected areas management, promotion of environmentally friendly products and services, increased use of less-polluting technologies, sustainable tourism practices, and the development of marketing strategies for "green" products, such as biodiversity-friendly agriculture, organic goods and ecotourism.


2 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Governments at the U.N. Earth Summit clinched a general deal on Monday to promote the use of "green" energy but an overall pact was still blocked by a new dispute over healthcare and abortion.  "I'm happy that we have agreed," Poul Nielsen, European Commissioner for Development, told Reuters after marathon talks. But environmentalists were incensed, saying it would do nothing to promote clean, renewable energies like solar or wind power.  A dispute involving femal genital mutilation and women's rights to abortion and contraceptionn blocked an overall global deal at the August 26-September 4 summit on a blueprint to combat poverty while protecting the planet, Nielsen said.  The energy deal agrees a "substantial increase" in the use of renewable energy like solar or wind power but stops short of setting any clear global targets in what environmentalists said was a sellout to President Bush’s former colleagues in the oil industry.  "We're calling it the Bush-Cheney energy plan," said Jennifer Morgan of WWF, referring to Vice President Dick Cheney. "The Americans, Saudis and Japanese have got what they wanted...It's worse than we could have imagined," Steve Sawyer, climate policy director of Greenpeace, told Reuters.  Away from the negotiating sessions, a parade of heads of state and government took to the podium to support its lofty goals, urged on by children who demanded an end to international bickering and broken promises a decade after at the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago.  "Too many adults are too interested in money and wealth to take notice of serious problems that affect our future," said 11-year-old Justin Friesen from Canada, standing next to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the podium before the leaders.  But the reality of human conflict was everywhere in view.  In the main hall Third World leaders blasted greed among the rich nations as tensions over Iraq and Zimbabwe crackled. In downtown Johannesburg, police turned water cannon on about 100 pro-Palestinian protesters outside a venue where Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was due to speak.  The health issue is the last hurdle to agreeing a plan tackling a host of threats to mankind, from pollution and poverty to AIDS and the extinction of plant and animal species.  "It's the only thing left. It's not clear if we'll get an agreement tonight," one European delegate said.  Skeptics say the Summit's vast ambition deprives it of meaning, especially as the United States has resisted what it sees as empty symbolism in setting targets for such sweeping goals and argues that many nations will simply ignore them.  "We deal with everything and there is a risk at the end of the day that it means nothing," said Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose country holds the EU presidency.


Bush was notably absent and the only leader of the Group of Seven industrial powers not to speak.  So the leader of world's strongest nation did not hear the leader of one of its smallest make an earnest plea to Americans and others to adjust their lifestyles and save his entire island state from disappearing beneath the waves of the Pacific.  "We want the islands of Tuvalu, our nation, to exist permanently for ever and ever, and not to be submerged under water merely due to the selfishness and greed of the industrial world," Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoanga told the summit.  Rising sea levels caused by polar ice being melted by global warming threatens the low-lying coral atolls. And scientists say it is the gases of vehicle exhausts and industry that are causing a greenhouse effect, warming up the atmosphere.  Sopoanga called on industrial states to bind themselves to the Kyoto Protocol on curbing those emissions. Bush pulled out of it, saying it was expensive and unfair for the U.S. economy.  European leaders including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also pushed for the pact. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien ended months of uncertainty, announcing he would ask parliament to ratify it.  Russia holds the key to implementing the accord and has said it intends to. But it is not yet clear when that might happen.  Bush was represented in Johannesburg by a low-level delegation led by Undersecretary for Energy Robert Card.


South African President Thabo Mbeki called on the World Summit on Sustainable Development to end the "global apartheid" between the rich and billions of poor, with a plan that contains reaffirmed commitments to Third World aid and fairer trade.  Western leaders insisted they were doing their bit.  "Today in Johannesburg, humanity has a date with destiny," said French President Jacques Chirac. "Our house is burning down and we are blind to it," he added, suggesting a "solidarity levy on the wealth created by globalization" to help the poor.

An aide suggested taxes on air tickets or financial deals. But that is hardly likely to find favor with U.S. business.  President Robert Mugabe laid into Blair over his support for white farmers being forced off their land in Zimbabwe: "Blair, keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe," he said to loud applause for a stand against colonialism. Blair had already left. Mugabe was out of the room when Blair gave his speech.  Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who sent Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz to the summit, won some support from South African former president Nelson Mandela over U.S. threats to oust him: "We are really appalled by any country whether it is a superpower or a poor country that goes outside the United Nations and attacks independent countries," Mandela said.  


Dow Jones Business News
2 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG -(Dow Jones)- Global corporations should take long-term views in efforts to build new markets in the developing world, Hewlett Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina told delegates at Johannesburg's World Summit on Sustainable Development Monday.

Fiorina said businesses should take longer views "than a quarter or two or a year or two."  "We are committed to investing in the less developed countries of the world," she said. Hewlett Packard has operations in about 160 countries.  Fiorina was speaking at a conference session on growing sustainable business in the world's poorest countries.  A new member of the Global Impact, a corporate citizenship initiative launched by the U.N. in 2000, Hewlett Packard recently struck a public-private sector partnership in Senegal and will Tuesday announce a similar agreement in South Africa.  Fiorina said sustainable development, especially in developing countries, needs partnerships between governments, business and aid agencies.  Mark Moody-Stuart, chairman of the Global Compact Working Group, said partnerships between specific countries and companies will be announced within the next few months.  He said six to 10 countries are currently being considered by about 25 companies. Six companies have indicated their willingness to be lead partners.  "We can't say which countries or companies are involved, but it is important to note that the countries involved are normally those that business would not rush to," said Moody-Stuart.


Dow Jones Business News
2 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG -(Dow Jones)- U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac Monday promised an extra EUR100 million each over the next three years in new aid to help private enterprise become involved in sustainable development.  Speaking at a media conference at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg the two leaders said the funds would be made available to lever in private finance for EUR1 billion in new sustainable development projects.  Blair said that private finance was an important partner in development and it needed to included in solving the twin needs of "eradicating poverty in the world at the same time as ensuring that the global economy grows in an environmentally sustainable way."  He said the basis of this would be a partnership, particularly in Africa where good governance and sustainable development needed to go hand-in-hand.  Blair said that the recently-launched NEPAD economic and political initiative for African development was the right forum for greater economic growth in the region.  In a joint statement the leaders said developed nations needed to take collective responsibility and develop a less polluting growth model. They called for development assistance to be increased to a target of 0.7% of gross domestic product within 10 years and for a new "solidarity levy" on wealth created by globalization.  


1 September 2002

Officials and ministers are expected to make last-ditch efforts today to resolve outstanding issues in a global anti-poverty plan that is meant to be adopted at the conclusion of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) next week. A committee of ministers took over responsibility to forge agreement on seven of the remaining 14 sticking points. These include delivery targets on sanitation and renewable energy, and references to "common but differentiated responsibility" in the draft Johannesburg Declaration. The other deadlocked sections related to a 10-year work programme on sustainable production; the wording of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change; paragraphs regarding the depletion of natural resources; and bio-diversity. Lowell Flanders, the United Nations special adviser, said the remaining outstanding issues, including the developing world's call for commitments on the phasing out of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies in Europe and the United States, would remain up for debate in the contact group of officials. He was cautiously optimistic that differences on all these issues would be resolved before the Heads of State section of the summit begins tomorrow. Some of the 109 heads of state and government expected to take part in the conference arrived in the country yesterday, but the lion's share should touch down during the course of today. Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary-general, will visit the Sterkfontein Caves near Krugersdorp with President Thabo Mbeki before addressing a business lekgotla with international and local companies in Sandton. - Sapa. 


Associated Press
1 September 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - As heads of state started arriving at the World Summit on poverty and the environment, bleary-eyed negotiators were upbeat Sunday after reaching deals on climate change and trade.  "We have absolutely no choice. We must deliver," Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said. The 10-day conference, which started last Monday, aims to agree on a plan to turn promises made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio into reality.  Diplomats said one contentious issue was resolved late Saturday, when negotiators settled on wording to address the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which the United States has refused to sign.  The agreed text says nations that have ratified Kyoto "strongly urge" states that have not done so to ratify it in "a timely manner."  "This is very encouraging," said Danish Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt, whose country holds the EU presidency.  Environmentalists also welcomed the agreement. Steve Sawyer, climate director for Greenpeace, called it "a tremendous achievement in this process because basically it doesn't go backward."  "It's about the only thing in this text that doesn't," he added.  Negotiators also reached compromises on trade that largely stick to language agreed to at a World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar. They include a reaffirmation of commitments to hold negotiations with a view to phasing out agriculture and other trade-distorting subsidies. The last outstanding issue was resolved late Sunday when negotiators agreed to delete language giving the WTO precedence over multilateral environment agreements, diplomats said Sunday.  "There's a sense of euphoria among the delegates that they've been able to settle this very difficult issue," said Lucian Hudson, spokesman for the British delegation.  Delegates have now agreed more than 95 percent of the 70-odd page plan, though a few tough issues remain, summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai said. "The document is almost finished," South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said.  The head of the U.S. delegation, Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, said she was "encouraged" by the progress made.  "The process is not just about approving text. It's about working with developing countries that look to us for concrete action," she said. "Failure is not an option."  Negotiators meeting behind closed doors worked late into the night Sunday to settle remaining differences over energy and sanitation.  Developing nations have sided with the United States against setting targets on renewable energy sources, while the European Union and other countries are pushing for a commitment to halve the number of people without access to sanitation by 2015.  Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, representing the 15-nation EU, said the goal was feasible.  "We have the technology and the talent, and I would also say we have the money," he said.  But the United States has resisted including new targets and timetables in the action plan, arguing the way to get results is through concrete projects - not paper agreements.  With governments increasingly cash-strapped, the summit has emphasized the role public-private partnerships can play in alleviating poverty and protecting the environment.  "We've all realized that governments can't do it alone. We live in an era of partnerships," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told government and corporate leaders at a series of "Business Day" events. Israel and Jordan announced a partnership of their own, the largest ever between the two countries, a dlrs 800 million pipeline intended to save the shrinking Dead Sea.  Both governments also appealed for international assistance to fund the project that will take three to five years to complete.  More than 50 world leaders were expected in South Africa for the start of the final session Monday, when heads of state will address the summit, with the number climbing to 109 before the summit ends Wednesday. Outside the summit Sunday, a group of protesters demonstrated against the increasingly authoritarian rule of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who arrived in South Africa on Saturday.  Also Sunday, Annan and South African President Thabo Mbeki visited the Sterkfontein Caves, an archaeological site near Johannesburg. Among the hundreds of finds at the 13 caves are the remains of a 3.5 million-year-old human ancestor.  "This is the window through which we get a glimpse into our shared past," Mbeki said. "I hope and trust that this valley of human ancestors will inspire and guide us as we face the challenges of our modern world."  


United Nations News
1 September 2002

1 September - Young people from across the globe will voice their concerns about the planet's environment when the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development kicks into high gear during its high-level segment on Monday, the United Nations reported today.

Three young people, representing the International Children's Conference on the Environment sponsored by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), will present a list of challenges to national leaders gathered at the Summit, which will also hear from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.  These challenges, which were inspired, written and voted on by some 400 children from 80 countries, represent their hopes and fears for the future of the planet, according to the UN. Eleven-year-olds Justin Friesen from Canada and Liao Mingyu from China will be joined by 14-year-old Analiz Vergara from Ecuador in conveying the message to the Summit.  Also on Monday, two South African children, six-year-old Tiyiselani Manganyi, who was born in Soweto, and 10-year-old Julius Ndlovena from Blargowrie, will recite a poem written for the launch of South Africa's National Plan of Action for Children Meanwhile, today in Johannesburg, the Secretary-General addressed a meeting organized by Business Action for Sustainable Development, underscoring the important contribution which corporations can make in working to preserve the global environment.


31 August 2002

The Global People's Forum (GPF)has called on Heads of States due to arrive in Sandton, north of Johannesburg, today for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to "make specific, time bound, resourced commitments."  In their memorandum handed to Mosiuoa Lekota, the Defence Minister, who accepted it on behalf of President Thabo Mbeki, the Forum said those commitments, should be made on key issues of health, sanitation, labour standards, bio-diversity, and water quantity and quality.  President Mbeki could to accept the memorandum because he had to receive world leaders arriving at the Summit.  About 20 000 Global Forum protestors, which, among others, included the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the SA Communist Party (SACP), marched from Alexandra township to the affluent Sandton to hand over their memorandum.  Speaking near the Sandton Convention Centre, where the main conference is held, Cynthia Rodgers, a Youth representative of the Civil Society Secretariat, said the Global Forum would reject the recycling of previous UN agreements that did not bear any fruits.  "The civil society at the Global Peoples Forum of the WSSD rejects the neo-liberal policies and global agenda, which are the main obstacles to sustainable development. "Current levels of poverty and inequality are unsustainable. To address this there must be a redistribution of wealth and resources, both globally and within nations, and the debt of developing nations must be forgiven," said Rodgers. The Forum also called on the elimination of agricultural subsidies "which entrenched the unfair trade in agricultural produce, at the expense of the developing world." The developed countries are channelling billions of US dollars in subsidies to their farmers, and are blamed for distorting trade patterns in favour of the developed world. However, the Forum committed itself to reducing the consumption of the Earth's non-renewable resources, especially fossil fuels, and to work within the carrying capacity of the Eco-systems.  Heads of States and Governments are due to attend the summit to adopt the Johannesburg Declaration on Monday.  


31 August 2002

Johannesburg, Sept 3, IRNA -- Iran's Vice President and Head of the Department of the Environment (DOE) Masoumeh Ebtekar Monday chaired the World Summit on Sustainable Development after she addressed representatives of participating nations on Iran's views on issues tabled for discussion at the summit. Ebtekar presided over the debates in the absence of South African President Thabo Mbeki, the chairman of the summit. Ebtekar, in her speech, criticized the international community for failing to deliver on promises regarding developing nations, and called for recognition of human rights by world countries. Iran on Tuesday was elected member of the summit's 27-strong presiding board. The World Summit on Sustainable Development, which opened in Johannesburg on August 26, has gathered world leaders to discuss global problems on five main areas--water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity--but is facing deep opinion rifts between rich and poor nations. The summit is a follow-up to the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which put forward 2,500 recommendations, the majority of which have not been implemented. It is meant to challenge governments to invest more resources to help reduce worldwide hunger and poverty, provide clean water, and ensure adequate treatment for HIV/AIDS and, at the same time, address such issues as promoting renewable energy sources with a view to better protect the environment.                                               


30 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - It's going to get up close and personal at the Earth Summit, as wrangling between officials from rich and poor nations over abstruse diplomatic language gives way to the arrival of squabbling world leaders themselves.  Negotiators in Johannesburg talked into the small hours on Friday at the half-way stage of the 10-day summit, deadlocked on wording such as "good governance" and "globalization" in a U.N. plan to bring the poor prosperity and protect the environment.  It may take the arrival at the weekend of world leaders like Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe for outsiders to get a real flavor of what that argument is all about. And it may be up to leaders to find the compromises eluding their subordinates.  Britain's Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott warned on Friday in an interview with the Independent newspaper that failure to agree a plan would be "tragic for the whole world."  "If we fail here, things would unravel on a scale that we have not seen before in international negotiations," Prescott told the newspaper. "That would be tragic for the whole world and most of all for those who are in poverty and despair."  "Earth in the balance," said the headline of an editorial in the South African weekly Mail & Guardian newspaper.  "Perhaps the biggest threat to our world is the idea that humanity's immediate needs must be satisfied by whatever means and that the future can go hang," it said.  A big protest march on Saturday from the slum shanty township of Alexandra to the nearby summit venue in the wealthy suburb of Sandton may also help put a human face to the disputes between two worlds, rich and poor. South African President Thabo Mbeki has called on the summit to end that "global apartheid."  Hit by personal sanctions from Western powers who accuse him of rigging his re-election and contributing to looming famine in southern Africa through his confiscation of white-owned farms, Mugabe is held up in the rich world as an example of the sort of "bad governance" many want curbed in return for aid money.

Yet Mugabe, whose intellectual credentials and guerrilla war against Rhodesia's white rulers made him an hero to many in the Third World, has hit back hard, saying that the "globalization" of corporate power is merely Western colonialism in a new guise.


Britain, the former colonial power, has been a particular target of his wrath. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who heads for the region on Saturday, could come face to face with Mugabe, who has called him a "little man" acting like a "gangster."  British officials say they have been involved in intricate scheduling negotiations to try to ensure the two men do not get too close when they both address fellow leaders at the World Summit on Sustainable Development late on Monday afternoon.  Supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition are to hold a protest rally on Friday in Johannesburg, commercial capital of a country where an estimated two million Zimbabweans have taken refuge.  In all about 100 world leaders from the nearly 200 countries represented at the United Nations are due in to sign up to a broad but non-binding plan calling for actions ranging from cleaning up water supplies to saving trees and fighting AIDS.  Some of the most vigorous personal criticism has been reserved for the most notable absentee, President Bush, who has become a bogeyman for masses of green lobbyists in Johannesburg as well as for poor countries incensed by American reluctance to increase aid or let in more of their exports.  But Bush's defenders argue he cannot win -- he would have been lambasted just as heavily if he had shown up, they say.


The bulk of the U.N. plan has been agreed.  But officials are yet to reconcile U.S. and European Union demands for aid to be tied more clearly to efforts to improve human rights and democracy and insistence by developing nations that the rich states must do more to cut subsidies to their own farmers that help keep Third World imports out of their markets.  Negotiators are also trying to find a formula to describe "globalization." Developing countries are keen for wording saying its benefits need to be more equally shared.

Other delegations and the South African hosts resisted a bid by European Union negotiators late on Thursday to pass some of the knottiest issues, like that on aid and governance, up to their leaders, officials said. One EU delegate said it was such a "political" issue only politicians could resolve it.  Much, then, remains under discussion before their arrival. But several delegates said it was likely at least two issues would not be settled without at least ministerial-level talks.  One concerns U.S. resistance to efforts to set a target for halving the number of people without adequate sanitation -- a similar target is already agreed for providing drinking water.

The other concerns efforts to set clear goals for increasing the amount of energy provided by renewable sources like solar power -- something oil firms and OPEC countries are wary of 


Edie Weekly Summaries
30 August 2002

At its half-way point, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) has resulted in some agreements, but there is still a clash of cultures over whether or not to introduce new targets. At the start of the week, agreement was reached on maintaining and restoring fish stocks to levels that produce a maximum sustainable yield by 2015. Delegates also agreed to urge the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to consider stronger mechanisms for implementation. The agreement includes consideration of the 'special requirements' of developing states. However, conservation groups have criticised the agreement for being too weak.  Good news also includes the fact that the UN has now received 218 submissions for partnership initiatives in areas such as water and sanitation and energy. The partnerships are designed to connect final negotiated Summit document with actual implementation.  Initiatives include a major partnership by the European Union between governments, business and civil society.  One such initiative is the Velo Mondial scheme based in Amsterdam, which will run from the end of September this year to the end of 2012. The scheme aims to develop a working model in South Africa, Europe and the US for establishing a bicycle refurbishing industry, which will contribute to poverty eradication and sustainable development. It is intended that 100,000 bicycles will be collected in Europe and the US every year a five-year period, and then refurbished and sold in Africa.

"We need action at all levels - local, national, regional and international - to promote sustainable development," said Danish Environment Minister and current EU President Hans Christian Schmidt. "It is clear that partnerships can provide such action."  The EU is also launching a smaller-scale partnership initiative to promote sustainable urban development outside Europe. "Building on Europe's experience with Local Agenda 21 projects, this initiative aims to assist towns and cities outside the EU to take practical steps towards sustainable urban development, for example by preparing and implementing LA 21 plans," said European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson.  However, there are still a number of outstanding disagreements. The European Union is disappointed that the US is continuing to refuse to agree on new targets for cleaner energy and sanitation in developing nations.


Gulf News
30 August 2002

The UAE delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development yesterday shored up their support of the summit's aims and agenda by offering $1 million to any pioneering work that emerges from the 10-day global meet under way in South Africa. At a press conference at the Sandton Convention Centre last night, Dr Essa Abdul Latif of the Zayed International Prize for the Environment announced the offer after encouraging entrants from all over the world for the second cycle of the Zayed Prize.  Dr Abdul Latif added that entries for the 2001 to 2003 cycle will be accepted until June 2003. "This is an open invitation for the world to join us in promoting sustainable development activities," Dr Abdul Latif said.  "The $1 million prize will be split into three areas - the first prize for a key international figure or organisation who has made a global impact, the second prize for scientific research that promotes sustainable development, and the third for non-governmental organisations and civil society." The first cycle of the Zayed Prize was awarded to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, for his work on the Global 2000 initiative and eradication of poverty and disease; the second prize was shared by the World Commission on Dams and Prof Mohammed El Kassas, for his study of the ecology of arid lands; and third prize was awarded to Yolanda Navaro, current president of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). "From our point of view, this summit is about changing people," said Dr Mohammed Ahmed bin Fahad, chairman of the Higher Committee for the Zayed Prize. "Changing rich, educated people who control 80 per cent of the world's resources because they have the ability and capability to reverse unsustainable development."  "All mankind are shareholders in the world," Dr Fahad said, "and all of us must contribute something to it. We can work together to produce something good, to make a difference, and the Zayed Prize is a big step in that direction."  Dr Fahad also alluded to President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan's own involvement in regional conservation projects involving houbara bustard, protected wildlife areas and even dam-building in Yemen. In coming days, the UAE will draw even more global attention at the Earth Summit when it introduces the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) with the Capital's Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA) and the United Nations Environment Programme. Majed Al Mansouri, secretary-general of ERWDA, told Gulf News yesterday that the international environmental database initiative would be tested first in Abu Dhabi. "Our pilot project in the Capital will begin in September," he said. "Within three years, we hope to have a database on all the seven emirates with their cooperation." The government of Abu Dhabi, he added, had already contributed $5 million as seed money for the project. Mansouri said the WSSD in its entirety would offer several ideas and projects that could be implemented in the UAE. The ERWDA, he added, is soon to begin water surveys and research into new, less water-intensive methods of farming in a bid to cope with environmental stresses. Buthaina Al Reyami, a representative of the Environment Committee of the federal Women's Union, said she had already benefited from attending the WSSD as part of the UAE delegation. Al Reyami was particularly interested in NGO projects about water consumption, another about development in rural areas and women's rights, and a third about aid for aliens to end lead poisoning in children. "This is a good opportunity to exchange ideas as well as interact with different projects from all over the world," the UAE national said. "We can learn from those that work, and discard those that don't."  


Gulf News
30 August 2002

The Arab League initiative at the summit in Johannesburg is ambitious. Probably too ambitious, considering the number of diverse aspects it wishes to address. While it is all very well to come up with proposals that fit neatly into the purview of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, WSSD, a sense of proportion is also desirable. Clearly, the sponsors of the League initiative have been carried away by their enthusiasm for rectifying wrongs, forgetting the formidable odds that the region has to face in the numerous categories they wish to take on.

For a start, many agencies already exist that are concerned with some of the projects that are mentioned. Yet these agencies have failed to produce the desired results for a number of reasons: inadequate finance, political differences and even lack of interest. There exists a number of Arab and Gulf regional bodies that were established many years ago, designed to formulate a closer bonding between Arab and Muslim nations. These organisations are but a shadow of what they were originally intended to be. If the Arab League is serious about its proposal to the WSSD, and we must assume it is, then it should be less ambitious, less all-embracing and concentrate more on unifying and improving what is already there.


The NEWS (Monrovia) via All Africa
30 August 2002

Monrovia .A senior member of the U.S. delegation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development says summit negotiators need to get beyond work on a text containing lofty expectations and start engaging in action-oriented partnerships that offer a new way of doing business for the world community. The official, speaking to a small group of reporters August 27, said the delegates had an unprecedented, historic opportunity to make the summit more than an environmental conference by fully integrating efforts towards economic progress, social advancement and environmental stewardship. The official, speaking on background said the delegates will be held accountable by the world community, and need to come out of Johannesburg with commitments... commitments of resources, commitments to specific strategies, and a new way of doing business. "This involves coming together, joining our resources, partnering with developing world, working on their economy, working on their social well-being, working on the sustainability of resources... but in partnership," he said. The official in the United States hopes delegates can conclude the summit negotiations and move on to results-oriented action. "It's time to finish to planing, finish the text. Goals in themselves, plans in themselves (without action) are lofty rhetoric by the international community," he said. "The United States came here with specific initiatives and is seeking partners to start making a difference in the world. And I think that for all countries coming here... especially countries like the United States should be the expectation." Negotiations at the 10-day summit, which is scheduled to conclude on September 4, are expected to reach agreement on a political declaration, in which governments commit to taking the action needed to make sustainable development a reality, and a plan of implementation that identifies actions needed in specific areas. They are also expected to agree on a broad range of partnership activities to implement sustainable development at the national, regional and international level. The U.S. official told reporters that the United States has brought "a very bold and exciting package of specific initiatives" to the summit - resources that will help build a path to development. These resources include up to U$970 million over the next three years for water projects, which is expected to mobilize another $1,600 million through partnerships with other governments, the private sector, civil society and development organizations and $43 million in 2003 for clean energy that will lead to an additional $400 million in other resources through partnerships and $90 million in 2003 to help farmers, particularly in Africa. During the summit, the United States also plans to announce the Congo Basin Forest partnership, which will include support for a network of national parks and protected areas in six Central African countries. The United States proposes investing $53 million over for four years, with additional coming from Group of Eight nations, the European Union(EU), environmental organizations and the private sectors. The official said that the U.S. has already pledged more than$1,000 million for 2002 and 2003 to address health issues, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; President Bush recently announced U.S. initiative to restore and protect the oceans - dealing with such matters as coral reefs, fish stocks, land-based pollution and watershed management. "We will do our initiatives with partners - partners that have already signed up with us," he said. "And that's only the beginning of the process. This is a journey - whether it's hunger or restoring depleted ocean resources - this is a journey. But it's got to start here in Johannesburg. So that 's our expectation." He said major players in these initiatives would be the non-governmental organizations(NGOs), which have a long history of doing business through partnerships.' "I find receptivity from the majority of the NGO community that is actually out there making a difference - faith-based charities, foundations and others," he said. "Obviously governments can't do it alone. The creativity, the local capacity, the people, the passion, the innovation - that's what we get out of the private sector NGO community." On another issue, a senior U.S. official at the same briefing said that the United States was considering its options when asked whether it would take the Europeans to the World Trade Organization court in order to have genetically modified crops accepted in Europe. "The EU has had a moratorium in place on the approvals of genetically modified products," he said. "It wouldn't be a case where we are saying that you must take certain products. Rather it's that we are asking the EU to lift their moratorium so that they can consider whether to approve certain products. And certainly there are domestic requirements for assessing the safety that would be respected in that process." The official said that the Europeans also have regulations coming out on the traceability and labeling of genetically modified products. "We are watching that process very closely because we do have significant concerns with the potential impact on trade of those regulations, which we're still very much in the process of assessing," she said. Another senior official at the briefing said that the United States has been testing genetically modified products for an extended period of time and believes the products are safe. He said the United States also believes that such products could serve the needs of the world, especially of people who are in desperate need of food right now. "So from our viewpoint, we're very supportive of this technology continuing," he said, "we think it plays an important part - not the only part, but very important in terms of addressing the issues of world hunger and starvation." 


United Nations News
30 August 2002

30 August - Sounding the drumbeat for a stronger public commitment to fight global problems, United Nations officials today challenged governments meeting at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to invest more resources to help reduce worldwide hunger and poverty, provide clean water and ensure adequate treatment for HIV/AIDS.  "Governments, international organizations and financing institutions need to use their resources effectively to improve their performance and to step up their cooperation, working as one to overcome hunger and to consolidate the primary role of sustainable agriculture and rural development in food security," Jacques Diouf, the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said in an address to the Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

For her part, Carol Bellamy, the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), said that achieve truly sustainable development meant creating world that was fit for boys and girls. "Something as simple as providing safe water and clean toilets in schools will not just help protect children from deadly diseases - it will keep millions of them, especially girls, going to school," she stressed. "And, making sure children get a quality basic education can help a single generation make a huge leap."  Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Piot, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said that the international community needed to make a major commitment to redress the human resource crisis provoked by the disease. He called for a broad spectrum of actions, from increased prevention and accessible treatment to investing in new models of development that re-build human capacity from the community up. "Turn our backs on the epidemic and, in the worst affected countries, development will continue its rapid slide into 'undevelopment,'" he warned. "But act purposefully and in partnership, and the impact of AIDS can be turned back."  In other news from the Summit, negotiations on some issues, such as outstanding targets and timetables, were being sent to a group of ministers for resolution. Although dozens of additional paragraphs in the draft action plan have been finalized, there were still several tough issues - such as trade subsidies, globalization, and a target for providing proper sanitation - that have not been resolved, UN officials said.  Negotiations were also continuing on setting a target for promoting renewable energy as a part of the goals dealing with energy, an issue that cuts across various regions and negotiating groups. There was still disagreement on a timetable for phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, and whether the Summit should encourage the launch of action programmes for energy on a centralized basis, or whether efforts should be more decentralized.


United Nation News
29 August 2002

29 August - The United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, turned its focus today to partnership initiatives aimed at connecting the draft plan of action with actual efforts to implement its goals.  Considered by many to be one of the major outcomes of the Summit, the partnerships mark an innovation that brings governments together with the private sector, civil society and international organizations.  "The partnership initiatives are intended to ensure that there is real action toward sustainable development after the Summit," Nitin Desai, the Secretary-General of the Summit, said, cautioning that the initiative should not be seen as a substitute for government commitments.  "Too often, we have seen conferences end with only a document," he added. "We need government commitments - that's what the negotiations are for. But we need to know who is actually planning to implement what the Summit decides."  The United Nations announced that it has received 218 partnership submissions, and more than 40 of them will be showcased over the next three days. Twenty initiatives deal with water, with $20 million in funding already committed, while another 12 proposals tackle agriculture, food security and rural development.  Meanwhile, about $11 million has been committed for 30 partnerships relating to energy, and another $70 million pledged for 31 plans on cross-sectoral issues focusing on poverty. 


The Earth Times
29 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG--A key figure for the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) is Jan Pronk, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy. He has been hopping around from meeting to meeting, but his main focus has been on establishing what are called "partnerships."  This seems to have become a buzz word at WSSD. At a press conference Thursday, Pronk--the former Dutch Environment Minister--was asked how partnerships were different from straightforward aid. "In the past, aid was top down," he replied. "The main decisions on aid were: How much? To whom? For what purpose? Under which conditions?"  They also took place mainly between government and government in the past, he added. "Partnerships, on the other hand, involve other parties, like civil society, women's and indigenous groups, for instance, who should be involved in the discussions leading to a decision. The UN could play a guiding role in setting up these partnerships and in making them accountable."  A partnership had to involve rich and poor, could not just be inter-governmental, had to be transparent and involve what Pronk termed "new approaches."  Till now, by and large, NGOs appear distrustful of "partnerships", seeing the private sector and multinationals, playing a dominant role in them and thereby benefiting most from them. It extent to which Pronk can remove such distrust could determine the success, or lack of it, of the WSSD.


The Earth Times
29 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG--Jeffrey Sachs, considered to be one of the world's foremost economists -- having advised people who undertook dramatic reforms in Bolivia, Poland, and Russia – l took on critics Thursday who contend that the UN is holding yet another talk-shop at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). These critics contend that the UN is setting new goals when the previous ones set at Rio have not been met. Sachs pointed out that the failure in meeting the targets is largely the fault of donor countries that have backtracked on the commitments made at Rio. Sachs was especially critical of his own country, the United States, in making the lowest possible commitments towards meeting these goals.  "I think it is very ironic for those that have the means to make a dent in the desperate poverty conditions of the world's poor," Sachs said in an exclusive interview with The Earth Times, "to say that UN is making lofty declarations, that it is holding a talk fest. I would like to remind them, that they are the ones that signed up to these commitments [referring to the Rio commitments and Millennium Development Goals]. It is their moral and political obligation to meet them. Instead of blaming the UN they should explain to the world why they have broken their promises."  The World Summit on Sustainable Development is taking place against the backdrop of 10 years of substantial failures to implement the agreed agenda of the Rio summit: Agenda 21. Sachs estimates that if the developed world were to commit to putting aside just one penny out of every $10, it would create a fund of $25 billion--an amount that the WHO study predicts would save 8 million lives per year.  Sachs, who is currently a special adviser to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, is arguably one of the most eloquent voices today in promoting development. Long affiliated with Harvard, first as a student and since the early '80s as a professor, in early 2002, Sachs was recently named director of the Columbia University Earth Institute. He is also the most vocal advocate of the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) that aim to reduce absolute global poverty by half by 2015. Some 189 Heads of State signed on to the MDG's at the Millennium Summit in September 2000.  "The MDG's are the recycling of old goals set at Rio that have not been met," said Sachs. "They have now been recalibrated for a new deadline. Their success will depend on the commitments made by rich countries to finance them by providing 0.7 percent of their GDP."  Achieving the MDG would require doubling the Official Development Assistance (ODA) to $50 billion. At the UN's Financing for Development conference in Monterrey, Mexico, early this year, ODA took a marginally positive turn. The ODA forthcoming from donor countries -- that had been declining for decades -- began to increase. But the amounts that were committed -- would result in increasing ODA by $12 billion beyond the current figure of $40 billion in the next few years-- one fourth of what was deemed as minimal necessity to meet the MDG's. UNDP, which is the scorekeeper and campaign manager of the MDG's has confirmed that dozens of countries are seriously off track to meet these goals.  Sachs pointed out that dismal progress on sustainable development in the last decade -- is not due to due to developing countries not being able to deliver on good governance but specifically because of the backtracking on commitments made by donor governments. Sachs contends that the donor countries have cut funding even in countries that have delivered on good governance, especially in Africa.  There are countries in Africa, such as Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, that Sachs points out have multiparty democratic governments that are urgently trying to face the needs of their people but are still unable to access the level of assistance that they need.  Sachs elaborated that he personally reviewed the proposal of funding that the Government of Malawi prepared to address their AIDS problem. While the donor countries admitted it was a very good proposal, they felt too much was being asked of them financially. An exasperated Sachs said, "In effect they were saying, we will not come up with the dollar a day which will help thousands of your people alive."  "If the debate is about good governance, then everyone has to deliver on them including the rich," said Sachs. "We here cannot sit here and lecture governments about good governance and not apply that rule to us. United States and EU need to be held accountable."  But the big question here is whether it is realistic to expect more. Sachs thinks it is. The developed world is an economy that generates $25 trillion in annual GNP. The US is presently spending 0.1 percent of 1 percent in ODA, one-seventh of what has widely been considered to be an international norm.  When asked if the low commitments from US could be attributed to the state of its present economy, a notably amused Sachs responded: "The US is a $10 trillion economy. When the US was rich and booming, it was giving little money, now when the US is in recession it is giving little money." "When the stock market had raised more than $10 trillion, it was giving little money. Now when the stock market has plunged, it is giving little money," noted Sachs. When there was a $4 trillion cumulative projected budget surplus, US was giving little money, now that the budget surplus has been vanquished it is giving little money."  Commenting on the absence of US leadership here at the Summit, Sachs said that he felt very uncomfortable about his country's commitment. "When almost the entire world is in Johannesburg discussing the urgency of sustainable development," Sachs noted, "Washington is discussing a potential new war on Iraq. This is a great risk for the US foreign policy and a significant risk for the world, which is discussing a common agenda without the US."  So what are Sachs expectations of this conference and who should be held accountable if the world, yet again, fails its poor? "It is my personal view that if there are no new financial commitments that come forward," said Sachs, "it will be fair to ask if the rich countries are serious about sustainable development. It will be very unfair to ask what is the UN doing holding these meetings."  


Financial Express
29 August 2002

The number of apologies speakers offered at the opening ceremony of the Johannesburg summit must have broken all records of any global meet. Everyone felt rather regretful that the world governments failed to live up to the commitments they made 10 years ago at the Earth Summit in June 1992 at Rio de Janeiro. Yet, each voiced some kind of optimism that things will be different this time.  The summit chair, President Thabo Mbeki of the host nation, South Africa, actually set the tone by acknowledging that not much progress has been made in the past decade in realising the grand vision contained in Agenda 21 and other international agreements. "It is no secret that the global community has, as yet, not demonstrated the will to implement the decisions it had freely adopted," Mr Mbeki said in his opening statement.  "All of us understand that the goal of shared prosperity is achievable because, for the first time in history, human society possesses the capacity, the knowledge and the resources to eradicate poverty. To use these possibilities successfully requires that we also agree to the concept of common and differentiated responsibilities," the South African President added.  Mr Mbeki touched a delicate nerve, when he referred to the issue of common and differentiated responsibilities. That was one of the contentious issues, which could not be resolved over the weekend when the South African ambassador tried to negotiate a consensus on the draft plan of action with delegates from both rich and poor countries.  An important initiative on the global front which may have already been aborted is the idea of creating a World Environmental Organisation (WEO). The proposed WEO was being visualised to set and police global rules for environment protection and to balance the powerful World Trade Organisation (WTO). The EU is vigorously pursuing this idea, but the USA has shot it down.  In an interview, the US under secretary of state for global affairs, Paula Dobriansky, while rejecting the proposal, said, "the 1992 Rio summit, experience shows that the international community does not need new treaties, new bureaucracies, or new government-to-government aid commitments." On Sunday, however there was one positive outcome for the South when they got the EU to agree to drop the term 'precautionary principle' from the text. Often this phrase allows the rich to bring about non-tariff barriers on export of other countries. Instead the EU wanted 'ecosystem approach'. That too was unacceptable, and finally the EU agreed to accept 'sustainablity impact assessment'.  This is just to give the readers a taste of the type of haggling which goes on at such international events, when the text hardly has any type of legal binding.  Corporate accountability is another disputed area, and considering the recent developments, there are many who would want a tough line to be taken in the declaration which comes out. A softer text was introduced which would have meant that corporations need not be regulated and that public/private partnerships and voluntary initiatives are the only necessary control mechanism.  The G-77, not too happy with the text, has proposed changes, reasserting concerns about the focus on voluntary initiatives. "This would effectively mean that corporations will rule the world," said a NGO bulletin being published by the Consumers International along with other international NGOs. They are also observing Wednesday as Bhopal Day in solidarity with the victims of corporate crime and demand corporate accountability.  "Health is at the heart of sustainable development and the eradication of poverty will not be possible in the absence of better all-round health," said Dr David Nabarro, director with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in his speech at the opening ceremony. He stressed the link between health and better productivity. In the context of the continent of Africa, AIDS and HIV is a huge problem, which is beyond the control of governments.  "If we spend an additional $30 billion a year on health," he said, "it will result in a six-fold increase in productivity and saving of eight million lives every year." The issue of health is also a part of the Millennium Development Goals, which seeks that poverty be halved by 2015. "There is already a great deal of understanding, among people attending the summit, that people's health is central to development and poverty reduction." 


Earth Times
29 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 24 (Earth Times) - The Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA) in the European Parliament opened a three-day Conference on Sustainable Development at the World Summit on Sustainable Development's (WSSD) Global Forum on Saturday.  Green Parliamentarians and advisors presented six "achievable demands for action" to influence political leaders to meet the challenge of protecting a worsening environment.  Monica Frassoni, MEP (Italy) and Co-President of the Greens/EFA Group outlined the demands at a press conference called "Just Solutions", which was co-hosted by the Heinrich Boell Foundation.  Among the six main demands were calls: to provide affordable access to clean water and sanitation by stopping water privatization; to provide affordable access to renewable energy sources in rural areas; To phase out government subsides, which are harmful to poorer countries; To emphasize environmental and social groups and rules over trade groups and rules, thereby transferring power away from the World Trade Organization to an independent court.

The "solutions" also included: the creation of a legal framework that makes private corporations accountable for environmental and social consequences of their business activities, and the establishment of a Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which would aim to protect the languages and cultures of indigenous people worldwide.  According to Steve Emmott, a policy advisor to the Greens/EFA, the party has no plans to create new treaties at the WSSD. The main goal of the party in Johannesburg is to simply "launch the process" and the demands.  Emmott noted that the Summit should be a forward-moving event for the Greens/EFA, based on progress over the past few years. "We hope not to go backwards," he said. The Greens/EFA intend to consolidate the environmental progress (i.e. new conventions and treaties) that has been achieved since the Rio "Earth Summit" a decade ago.  High on the party's agenda will be a call for the ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and various other environmental treaties. Due to the high-profile rejection of the Protocol by the United States, Emmott said it would be a challenge for Europe and the rest of the world to carry on with the Kyoto implementation process.

President George W. Bush snubbing of the Summit has been a slight distraction in Johannesburg, but Emmott admitted that his refusal to participate is totally irrelevant. He noted that the climate change issue and the Kyoto Protocol will still be there, but Bush may be out of office after four years. The impact of the Greens/EFA's, as well as of the other organizations being represented at the Global Forum, will not be immediate, admitted Emmott. Over time, he believes that the agendas that fringe groups press the government for will ultimately become engrained in mainstream thought.  "Centimeter by centimeter, you can add to the pressure of the debate," he said. 


MM News
29 August 2002

Malta's participation at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, commenced soon after the arrival of the head of delegation, Parliamentary Secretary George Pullicino, on Wednesday. His first appointment upon arrival was a meeting held among European Union accession countries referred to by the United Nations as the "Central Group". Malta facilitated the meeting, which was aimed at formulating a common position among the countries of the group on various sections of the Implementation Plan. This Plan is expected to set out specific targets for sustainable development and is one of two main documents expected as outcomes of the Summit. The other document is the political declaration. Members of the Maltese Delegation were also present for the Plenary sessions held on Water and Sanitation, on Energy, as well as a number of other meetings including those on the role of children in sustainable development, on biodiversity and on energy and climate change. Other members of the delegation attended meetings of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), where Malta was appointed to participate in the drafting of relevant chapter of the implementation plan. George Pullicino was later invited to attend an event hosted by the South African Government, entitled 'No Water, No Future', featuring an exhibition on water conservation measures.


International Herald Tribune
29 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG Delegates at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development failed Wednesday to agree on proposals to scale back the almost $1 billion a day in subsidies paid out to farmers in wealthy countries. The subsidies, which last year amounted to nearly six times as much as the rich nations gave the poor in direct aid, were attacked on all sides as harmful to the environment in the developed world and extremely harmful to farmers in the developing world because of the way they distort trade. They are simply "untenable," said the World Bank's vice president for sustainable development, Ian Johnson.  But governments in the richer countries cannot agree on measures that would be likely to stir up major political opposition, and the United States was against setting any targets or figures at the summit talks, delegates said.  The issue of subsidies "may be a sticking point, and may be a candidate for discussion at a different level," said John Ashe, a delegate from Antigua and Barbados, who was trying to broker a compromise on trade and finance issues. This indicated that subsidies - along with globalization - may be two hot potatoes that heads of state and government will be confronted with when they arrive for the main stage of the summit meeting early next week.  But delegates succeeded on another topic, reaching agreement on the draft text a nonbinding agreement to protect and restore depleted fish stocks "where possible" by 2015. The agreement will reinforce efforts by the European Commission to change the EU's fisheries policy in favor of conservation. "We agree with the criticism of the way things are now," said Poul Nielson, the EU commissioner for aid. "We have reached that realization ourselves." Even if they agree with the rational argument for reducing subsidies, governments face formidable opposition from politically powerful farming interests any time they attempt to curtail the handouts.  Some groups also point out that subsidies have benefits as well as drawbacks. The Food and Agriculture Organization, according to a spokesman, argues that great care must be taken in dismantling them to avoid food shortages and price increases in the producer countries. The environmental group Friends of the Earth said that subsidies were helpful if used to sustain local agriculture and promote environmentally friendly farming practices. But the development agency Oxfam recently produced a report illustrating how damaging the subsidies can be to poor countries struggling to gain a foothold on world markets. For example, it said, the European Union gives handouts to farmers to grow sugar that can be produced for one third the price in southern Africa. This produces surpluses that flood onto world markets at artificially low prices and makes it impossible for the African producers to compete. "This means that an agricultural commodity that could play a real part in poverty alleviation in southern Africa does not do so," Oxfam said. "European consumers are paying to destroy livelihoods in some of the world's poorest countries."  South Africa, Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia are all low cost sugar producers, yet they are unable to tap potential markets in North America or the Middle East because they are outbid by the subsidized European producers, according to the Oxfam report.  Klaus Toepfer, the director general of the UN Environment Program, said that "green protectionism" by the wealthy countries had to be dismantled step by step because it was damaging the economic prospects and the chances of survival in the poorer parts of the world.  Analysts say that the subsidies in the wealthy countries also have an impact on sustainable development because they are mostly aimed at increasing production with heavy inputs of chemicals rather than supporting more efficient farming methods that the world needs unless it is to plow up the last of its wilderness areas to support a growing population.

By distorting markets, subsidies and trade barriers concern agricultural experts because they prevent farms from reaching peak efficiency. They help perpetuate a two-tier and inefficient global farming system, with highly mechanized farms in the rich countries and labor intensive agriculture with low technology in the poorer nations. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates in a new study released at the summit meeting that demand for food will increase by 60 percent in the next quarter century. Yet farming already uses about 70 percent of the world's scarce supplies of fresh water, while a billion people lack access to drinking water and a further 2 billion have no proper sanitation. Hartwig de Haen, the organization's deputy director-general, envisages a world in which the most technically advanced farmers will deliver water drop by drop as crops demand moisture, and will eke out fertilizers according to computer analysis of soil composition. Otherwise, he warned, there will be "further encroachment on ecologically important forests, degradation of soils, depletion and contamination of water resources, reduction in genetic diversity and over-exploitation of fish stocks." In Europe, the bulk of subsidies prop up high production with ample use of pesticides and herbicides, meaning that the taxpayer then has to pay again to clean up polluted land and water, according to Helen Mountford, who watches the issue for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The European Union is seeking to move subsidies under its Common Agriculture Policy away from production support and toward direct support for farmers in an attempt to reward them for better stewardship of the land. Nevertheless, OECD experts estimate that the bulk of EU subsidies go to only about 20 percent of the richest farmers. The subsidies also benefit the pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers, who raise the price of their products to match the level of subsidy. In this way, Mountford said, up to one quarter of the subsidies may indirectly benefit the manufacturers rather than the farmers. She said that the OECD was carrying out a detailed study to find out which subsidies were efficient and which were not in order to provide the statistical basis for reducing them. By providing an accurate picture of the scale of the problem, she said, the Paris-based organization may contribute to disarming some of the mutual suspicions that prevent countries from reducing subsidies. The United States and the EU, while espousing free trade, say they each have to maintain subsidies because the other does.  The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a coalition of 150 international companies, and the Environmental group Greenpeace on Wednesday night jointly called for an international framework to combat climate change. Greenpeace has campaigned against some members of the council, such as Royal Dutch/Shell, while the council agreed that its market-based and free trade approach differed radically from Greenpeace approaches. However, the two organizations said they shared "the same belief that the threat of human-induced climate change requires strong efforts and innovation by all sectors in a common international framework."  


Reuters via Forbes
29 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 29 (Reuters) - People around the world want governments at the Johannesburg Earth Summit to agree on timetables to slash poverty and clean up the planet, an opinion poll showed on Thursday. "It would be a mistake for national leaders to avoid making time-bound commitments at the Johannesburg Summit," said Doug Miller, president of Canadian-based Environics International, which worked on the survey with Gallup International. "Their citizens want them made accountable for real progress," he said of the global "Voice of the People" survey of 24,000 people in 31 countries. It found 39 percent strongly agreed and 35 percent slightly agreed with the statement: "Unless governments of the world are held accountable to achieve specific environmental goals by certain years, we'll never solve environmental problems." Support for this statement was greatest in eastern and central Europe, where 62 percent of respondents said they strongly agreed. At the other end of the scale, 23 percent of those surveyed in the Pacific region strongly agreed. Delegates from almost 200 countries at the World Summit on Sustainable Development are negotiating a global action plan to reduce poverty with a focus on water and sanitation, energy, health, food security and ecosystem management. Time frames on some issues were agreed by world leaders at the U.N.'s Millennium Summit in 2000, including a pledge to halve by 2015 the proportion of people who live on less than a dollar a day and who lack access to safe drinking water. But there is resistance to other time-bound targets, notably from the United States, on issues such as halving the proportion of the world's 2.4 billion people who lack proper sanitation by a specific date. The poll also found that since the last Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro a decade ago, eastern and central Europeans take a dim view of their local environment, with 70 percent of those surveyed saying their country's environmental quality has worsened over the last 10 years. In the water-starved Middle East, 66 percent said environmental quality had improved while only 28 percent said it had worsened.  


Daily News
29 August 2002

WOMEN journalists behind Africa's leading on-line publication, The AfricaWoman, yesterday called on African heads of state and governments to take immediate measures to deal with the HIV/Aids pandemic which has killed millions of productive people on the continent.  Discussing the epidemic through video conferencing with participants at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the journalists and women activists agreed that participants in Johannesburg must take the presidents head-on and ask them to take the pandemic seriously.  Leslie Riddock of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the brains behind the project, led the journalists and participants in discussing the HIV/Aids pandemic, especially in relation to parent-to-child transmission of the virus and intervention methods to prevent transmission.  Some of the journalists are in South Africa for the WSSD to take the heads of state to task, especially on what they have achieved, ten years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and whether they have been implementing Agenda 21 to promote good governance, sustainable living and related issues.  The video conferencing revealed a need by the governments in Africa to speed up the implementation of the use of drugs such as Nevarapine to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.  Nevarapine is distributed in some countries for free. 


29 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG - As rich and poor nations argued bitterly over the finer points of a plan to help the world's poor on Wednesday, Nelson Mandela brought their summit down to Earth with a humbling plea for his own home village.  Mandela, speaking away from the grand and heavily guarded Johannesburg convention center that is hosting the mammoth, 10-day Earth Summit, painted a bleak picture of privation and thirst in South Africa's Eastern Cape.  "When I return, as I often do, to the rural village and area of my childhood and youth, the poverty of the people and the devastation of the natural environment painfully strikes me," the 84-year-old former president said of his native Qunu.

"It is the absence of clean water that strikes [me] most starkly," added Mandela, whose selfless struggle against apartheid made him a moral authority for Africa and the world.  He was launching an exhibition on ways to provide clean water to poor communities, a key goal of the United Nations and a major topic at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Since Monday delegates from nearly 200 countries have debated a U.N. action plan to ease poverty while preserving the planet.  Delegates made some headway in overcoming differences on Wednesday but were deadlocked on the issue of subsidies paid to Western farmers that hold back imports from Africa and Asia.

The trade debate spilled onto the streets outside the center in the wealthy suburb of Sandton, where 200 poor farmers and local street traders from nearby shanty townships shouted slogans demanding freer trade and more access to markets.  "We want the freedom to grow what we want, when we want, with what technology we want, and without trade-distorting subsidies or tariffs," said Barun Mitra, an Indian farm activist leading about 30 farmers from his country.  There was progress between rich and poor states on demands by Third World countries for more aid finance, and U.N. organizers also reported progress in setting firm targets and deadlines for improving the state of health care and fish stocks among a vast array of proposals on the summit agenda.


John Ashe, a Caribbean delegate who has been brokering a compromise, said they agreed on "99 percent" of aid proposals during late night talks. But he said ministers or even heads of government may have to get involved next week if the deadlock over subsidies and how to characterize globalization continues.  The United States has drawn fire for a new Farm Bill set to boost subsidies to domestic farmers, whereas radical plans to reform Europe's farm support policy have left the continent bitterly divided over French-led opposition to the plan.

U.S. President George W. Bush will not attend the summit, although about 100 other world leaders will come next week.

Many delegates said the United States was leading resistance to setting targets going beyond a world trade deal struck in Doha last year to phase out export subsidies and to make "substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support".  Environmentalists complained about the horsetrading: "We see the U.S. inserting words and watering down the text and taking it backwards," said Bjarne Pedersen of Consumers International.  Remi Parmentier, political director of Greenpeace, said the chances were slim that the summit would give environmental deals more clout in the face of the World Trade Organization.  Rich countries gave about $54 billion in development aid in 2001 but paid more than $350 billion to their own farmers -- or as one World Bank official noted: "The average cow is supported by three times the level of income of a poor person in Africa".  Green group Friends of Earth called the United States the "single biggest block on progress at the Earth Summit."  But it also took aim at the European Union for a lack of leadership on trade, as well as on promoting clean energy in the face of the oil lobby and making multinationals more accountable under strict Western laws for their actions in the Third World.

"On many key issues, the EU is part of the problem rather than the solution," the group said.  The EU's Development Commissioner Poul Nielson defended the bloc's tactics, however, saying efforts to agree on more than was settled at Doha could lead to dangerous confusion.

"Reforming agricultural policy has to be done progressively ...Big leaps forward may lead to major reverses," he said.


Delegates on Wednesday tackled ways to quench the growing thirst of a growing world population and provide sanitation to billions of the world's poor who do without either every day.  Nearly one in five people or 1.1 billion men, women and children have no access to fresh water, according to the U.N., while a staggering 2.4 billion lack adequate sanitation.  South Africa is leading a drive to adopt a further target for halving those lacking adequate sanitation -- an initiative resisted by the United States and some other nations.  "Targets are worth discussing but they are only lofty rhetoric. Targets do not save one child from water-borne diseases," a U.S. official said in defense of Washington.  The leaders of South Africa, Brazil and Sweden said words must become action. Writing in the International Herald Tribune, Thabo Mbeki, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Goran Persson said: "A quantum leap in the struggle to eliminate poverty and move toward a sustainable future is within reach."Reuters/ 


29 August 2002

The Maldives' crystal-clear lagoons draw high-spending sun and sand worshippers who help keep its economy afloat, but the warm waters could also drown the tiny nation.  President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom leaves for the Earth Summit next week to renew warnings that his nation of 1192 tiny coral islands could be lost beneath the waves unless global warming is tackled.  Gayoom (64) has emerged as a David in the battle against rising sea waves since he first drew the United Nations' attention at the 1987 General Assembly. 

He is using every international forum to convey his "sinking" feeling, diplomats said.  250 000 Sunni Muslims could becomes world's first environmental refugees  Maldivian diplomats here said Gayoom will address the Earth Summit on Tuesday and highlight the plight of his Indian Ocean nation of 250 000 Sunni Muslims, who could become the world's first environmental refugees.  "The President is very concerned about environmental issues and he will focus on this at the Earth Summit," Maldivian High Commissioner (ambassador) Abdul Azeez Yoosuf said.  The country's territory covers 90 000 square kilometres, but 99 percent of it is water.  Only 202 islands are inhabited by Maldivians. Another 87 islands have been developed as money-spinning exclusive tourist resorts while the rest of the 1192 coral islands are uninhabited.  Gayoom told the UN general assembly in 1987 that a two-metre rise in the sea level will submerge virtually all his coral islands scattered some 850 kilometres across the equator.  "That would be the death of a nation," Gayoom told the UN. "With a mere one-metre rise also, a storm surge would be catastrophic, and possibly fatal to the nation."  Gayoom himself was nearly washed into the Indian Ocean in April 1987 when giant tidal waves swept the capital island of Male.  "While I was inspecting the damage, a large wave reared up suddenly and buffeted the vehicle I was in," Gayoom wrote later.  "It was a moment of fear, not for my own safety, but for the safety of the people of Maldives."  Maldives are now building new islands  The Maldives is now building a brand new island by dredging the sea bed to tackle the problem of rising sea waves that threaten to wipe the Maldives off the face of the earth.  The project, called 'Hulhu Male', was begun in 1997 and work is still continuing to create what could become the biggest island in the equatorial country, officials said.

"This is one of the most important projects for us because of the very serious land problem we have," High Commissioner Yoosuf said.

If not for early action to build high ground, the Maldivians will have no country and might have to be relocated elsewhere if the sea levels rise a couple of feet in the next few decades.  At the Commonwealth summit in Vancouver in November 1987, Gayoom talked about the possible "death" of his nation at a time when environmental issues were not so fashionable and when global warming was talked about only by academics.  Bangladesh and Sri Lanka also feeling effects of global warming  Apart from the Maldives, fellow South Asian nations Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are also feeling the effects of sea erosion and warmer waters affecting corals and marine life.

Sri Lanka, which is much bigger than the Maldives, is facing a serious threat of sea erosion as a direct result of global warming. Bangladesh's fertile low-lying coastland, stretching hundreds of miles is exposed to natural calamities, such as cyclones and tidal surges.



29 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The World Summit officially kicked off in Johannesburg on Monday with healthcare topping the agenda.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, speaking at the opening session, followed up an earlier plea to end "global apartheid" between a rich minority and a mass of suffering poor.  "A global human society based on poverty for many and prosperity for a few, characterised by islands of wealth, surrounded by a sea of poverty, is unsustainable," Mbeki said.  In a plush Johannesburg convention centre protected by police, troops and sharpshooters, Mbeki said it was time to scrap a world order based on the "savage principle of the survival of the fittest."  Monday signals the shift in focus from Saturday's street protests to debate among the estimated 64,000 participants.  Some 100 world leaders are expected to turn up next week at the end of the 10-day World Summit on Sustainable Development, but a key absentee will be U.S. President George W. Bush.  The summit is to look at a wide range of issues, including cleaner water, non-polluting energy, better health, sustainable agriculture and preserving the biodiversity of Earth's many species.  It hopes to halve the more than 1 billion people without access to clean water and the more than 2 billion without proper sanitation.  It aims to develop specific plans for expanding the poor's access to electricity and healthcare, to reverse the degradation of agricultural land and to protect the global environment.  "You will see a lot of new partnerships being announced which are very specific in terms of who they will help, where, or what time frame with what resources, and we will focus a great deal of attention on these specific commitments," Nitin Desai, U.N. secretary-general for the summit, told CNN's Charlayne Hunter-Gault.  Developing nations want promises from the West to increase aid and give greater access to its markets, while the United States and other Western nations are resisting any new aid targets in the summit's final plan.  The battle against AIDS is expected to be discussed on Monday. Former South African leader Nelson Mandela brought the human cost of the illness home by revealing to his country's Sunday Times newspaper that three of his close relatives have died from AIDS -- a niece and two sons of nephews. One South African in nine suffers from HIV or AIDS.  "We call upon everybody not to treat people who are HIV-positive with stigma. We must embrace and love them."  Mandela will address some of the tens of thousands of campaigners who have arrived in Johannesburg to lobby their leaders. (Full Story)  Thousands of police are on duty in Johannesburg and roadblocks are in place around the venue as security chiefs try to prevent the violent demonstrations seen at other recent global summits.  Activists said the Johannesburg police were denying their right to free expression.  The first and only other such summit took place 10 years ago in Rio de Janeiro.  The Johannesburg summit has come in for criticism for both its lavish proceedings -- while residents in the neighbouring shanty towns go without basic sanitation -- and its perceived inability to take real action.  "Everybody is very pessimistic," one Italian delegate told Reuters. 


29 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The United States showcased public-private partnerships on Thursday at the Earth Summit, promoting a range of projects meant to combat poverty but which critics say often do more for big business than the poor. Delegates at the 10-day meeting in Johannesburg, meanwhile, were deadlocked on tough issues including poor nations' calls for rich countries to phase out farm subsidies even though 95 percent of a 77-page draft plan of action had been agreed. U.S. President George Bush, who has chosen not to join about 100 other world leaders for the summit finale early next week, is a leading proponent of partnerships, also favored by other rich nations from the European Union to Japan. Environmentalists say partnerships, meant to involve local communities, companies and other groups, may let business cash in on providing essential services like water or electricity, while letting governments shirk their responsibilities. Among key demands from developing countries which shows little sign of being heeded is a stronger commitment to an end to the subsidies paid to Western farmers and manufacturers that help keep out otherwise cheaper imports from the Third World.

U.N. organizers said they had received notice of 218 proposed partnerships, in areas ranging from healthcare to renewable energy projects to help meet summit goals of halving poverty by 2015 without poisoning the planet in the process. "We are very excited about partnerships...We see this as a commitment on the part of all," said Paula Dobriansky, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs. "This is a call for action. This is a call for initiative."


Among U.S. projects will be one to expand efforts to protect Congo basin forests in central Africa with an additional $53 million over four years. Another multi-nation project will get $43 million to provide energy for poor communities. Activists say rich nations are trumpeting partnerships at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to cover up a lack of new government funds or clear timetables for an assault on everything from AIDS to a lack of clean water supplies. "(Governments) are supposed to be working up an action plan with targets and timetables and the means of implementation," said Greenpeace climate policy director Steve Sawyer. "We can talk about partnerships after they've done that." California Congressman George Miller, whose Democrats are seeking to wrest control from Bush's Republicans in November elections, blasted U.S. partnerships as "a recycled idea and recycled money." Friends of the Earth said privatizations of water supplies in nations from Bolivia to the Philippines had meant higher prices for poor people. Nearly one in five people or 1.1 billion of the population have no access to clean drinking water. Meanwhile, South Africa sought to defuse a looming clash with activists by approving all 17 protest marches planned on Saturday to the summit venue in a gleaming conference center close to some of Johannesburg's worst slums. Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said the government had hammered out a compromise in talks on Wednesday and expected about 20,000 people to march for causes ranging from jobs to land.


Police used stun grenades to disperse a small crowd of demonstrators on Saturday in downtown Johannesburg and have pledged to crack down hard after protests and violence disrupted other international gatherings from Seattle to Genoa. With talks, meanwhile, stalled on issues like phasing out farm subsides, the 95 percent of the text of a plan of implementation covered the least controversial elements.

U.S. demands that good governance and democracy should be a counterpart for aid handouts, calls for multinational companies to be held accountable for their actions around the world and debate on the benefits of "globalization" were also unresolved. British Environment Minister Michael Meacher said ministers might have to get involved in breaking deadlock among senior officials but predicted the summit would end with a deal. "I don't believe that there are any fundamental, absolute sticking points," he told Reuters. "I think it will be resolved but probably only through the shaping of the final packages...There are still differences over targets, governance, human rights and the social dimension." Many delegates said the United States was leading resistance to any new targets going beyond a world trade deal struck in Doha last year to phase out export subsidies and to make "substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support."

Farm subsidies in rich nations total about $300 billion a year, or nearly six times the West's aid payments to poor states. The poor states say that the subsidies shut out their exports ranging from textiles to bananas. By one World Bank official's estimate, state subsidies paid for a cow in a rich nation are about three times the average earnings of the poorest people on the planet.  


28 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Earth Summit delegates on Wednesday tackled ways to quench the planet's growing thirst and provide sanitation to billions of the world's poor who do without either every day. The world gathering entered its third day in Johannesburg amid tight security against the possibility of fresh protests and with the land seizures crisis in Zimbabwe threatening to divert the attention of world leaders flying in next week. There was progress between rich and poor states on demands by Third World countries for more aid finance and fairer trade and United Nations organizers also reported progress in setting firm targets and deadlines for improving the state of healthcare and fish stocks among a vast array of proposals on the agenda. "We have agreed on 99 percent of the text on finance," John Ashe, a Caribbean delegate who has been brokering a compromise, told a news conference. Officials also agreed to reaffirm pledges on opening markets to Third World exporters but remained divided over wording on the issue of "globalization," he said.

Nearly one in five people or 1.1 billion men, women and children have no access to fresh water, according to the U.N., while a staggering 2.4 billion lack adequate sanitation. "To service the human community of India with sanitation and water is a Herculean task...The world community should come forward to help us through the U.N. organizations," Indian Environment Minister T.R. Baalu told Reuters.

India saw the worst start to the monsoon season in 15 years in July, bringing drought to many areas. Water tables in countries as far apart as the United States and China are steadily declining because of overconsumption.


At their Millennium U.N. summit two years ago, world leaders agreed to "halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water" by 2015. To meet those goals, states will have to more than double their spending on fresh water investments to $180 billion, according the United Nations estimates. Summit host South Africa is leading a drive by developing countries to halve a similar target for sanitation -- an initiative resisted by the United States and some other nations. The 10-day World Summit on Sustainable Development gathers delegates from some 200 countries hoping to put together an action plan to reduce poverty while preserving the environment.

An agreement at the weekend to try and protect diminishing stocks of fish in the world's oceans had buoyed spirits. But some environmentalists are questioning whether the deal can be enforced against pirate trawlers. Ashe told Reuters there had been a number of agreements on trade during talks among officials in the small hours of Wednesday. But he warned that some felt the wording went beyond rich states' pledges at world trade talks last year in Doha to open up their markets to exporters from the Third World.

So a final deal may depend on the leaders coming next week.


On other crunch issues such as how to bring clean energy and water to the billions of poor who have none, countries remained starkly divided, with poorer countries accusing the rich north of failing to live up to past promises. South Africa has deployed at least 10,000 extra police and troops to prevent a repeat of the violent confrontations that marred previous international gatherings in Seattle and Genoa.

About 200 Johannesburg street hawkers marched to the tightly-guarded convention center on Wednesday, demanding that police allow them back on the streets near the summit venue. "We want the summit to help us talk to this government of ours who stops us from working," said hawker Sonia Baloi. A few hundred protesters gained worldwide publicity last Saturday in a minor but televised confrontation with South African police in central Johannesburg. The gathering is the most prestigious event South Africa has hosted since the death of white minority rule in 1994 ended the country's isolation. In a joint editorial in the International Herald Tribune, the leaders of South Africa, Brazil and Sweden urged their counterparts to put words into action next week. "A quantum leap in the struggle to eliminate poverty and move toward a sustainable future is within reach," said Thabo Mbeki, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Goran Persson.   The land crisis in Zimbabwe looked set to take a turn at the summit after Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said on Tuesday he wanted talks with other leaders in Johannesburg. The troubled African country is plunging into ever deeper chaos as the government of President Robert Mugabe presses ahead with a plan to force 2,900 of the remaining 4,500 white commercial farmers to quit their land without compensation.

Mugabe, who is due in Johannesburg, says his land drive is aimed at correcting colonial injustices which left 70 percent of the country's best farmland in the hands of whites. Later in the day, delegates will look at widening poor nations' access to energy and to curb global pollution by promoting renewable energy sources like solar or hydropower. About two billion people, a third of the world lacks access to modern energy like electricity or even fossil fuels. Fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, are a major source of pollution and are blamed for global warming. But they account for about 80 percent of total global energy consumption.   


The Earth Times
28 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG--At the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the United Nations (UN) is sending a clear message. Business is critical in achieving global sustainable development. This summit, which has perhaps one of the largest business delegations ever in any UN conference-- over 700 business executives, 200 companies and approximately 100 chief executive officers -- is providing a critical platform for business to pitch their story: private investment is helping to raise the global standard of living while protecting the environment. And one person more than any is championing their cause.  Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former Chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies and head of the main industry lobby group at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, is here to ensure that their voice is heard clearly at this Summit. No one thinks he has an easy job. Environmental groups, more than ever before, are loudly accusing big business of trying to hijack the summit and persuade governments to go soft on regulating industry excess, a charge that Moody-Stuart denies.  "There is a great deal of mutual distrust, which we have to get over," said Moody-Stuart in an exclusive interview with The Earth Times. "We believe in good international governance for issues like climate change and trade. It is a myth that we are not in favour of regulation."  "Why should business not be here?" added the former Shell chairman. "Business has been designated as one of the nine stakeholder groups of the United Nations. If it were not here, people would be protesting as well. You cannot have sustainable development without sound economic input."  But really why are these multinational companies here? More importantly what is in it for them?  By the end of next week, the U.N. is expected to bless dozens of partnerships between business and nongovernmental organizations that tackle issues such as AIDS, energy, water and sanitation and the environmental impact of oil and gas development. For the U.N., often criticized as ineffectual, the emphasis on partnerships is the latest in a series of steps to work more closely with business.

Moody-Stuart has come to this summit with proposals of over one hundred such partnerships between corporations, non-governmental organizations and governments. One such partnership is a project between Merck & Co., GlaxoSmithKline, UNICEF, World Bank to improve access to AIDS care in the hardest-hit regions of the world.  Another partnership aims to develop tools and guidelines for integrating biodiversity into oil and gas development. The main partners include BP, ChevronTexaco, Fauna & Flora International, Smithsonian Institution Moody-Stuart argues that it makes good business sense to tackle serious global issues as increasingly customers favour companies that in some way are engaged in sustainable development. But he adds that business can only deliver through sound governance and setting reasonable targets.  The former Chairman who heads Business Action for Sustainable Development, a group that represents multinational corporations that have sent their own delegations to Johannesburg, said that businesses believe that setting realistic targets are critical to success.  "It does not make sense for the U.N. to set new targets like the Millennium Development Goals before it has achieved the older ones like the goals set in the first Earth Summit at Rio," said Moody-Stuart. "If you are a company and tell your shareholders we haven't met our previous targets, but let's set new ones, our stock would go south fast."  "Whatever targets are agreed at this meeting, we will need sound governance to deliver them," added the former Chairman. "We welcome the paragraph on sound governance and elimination of corruption. Responsible business can only succeed where there is sound local, state and national governance."  For Moody-Stuart, the biggest challenge is to get governments and other pressure groups to give industry its due, not only as a creator of wealth but as a responsible partner for improving the environment and livelihoods.  "What we need is this acknowledgement that without the involvement of business to deliver the economic benefits, you will not have sustainable development," said Moody-Stuart. "Yes, corporations are part of the problem, but they are an integral part of the solution as well."


Associated Press
28 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - The contentious rich vs. poor fight over globalization plagued the U.N. summit Wednesday even as negotiators hailed their first breakthrough: a deal to protect the world's oceans and marine life. Delegates at the World Summit for Sustainable Development are working on a plan of action to reduce poverty and save the planet's resources that all 191 nations present can agree to. Despite U.S. resistance to any new, binding targets, a deal was reached on preserving marine life and restoring depleted fish stocks, "where possible," by 2015. The United States has said it was opposed to new targets in general because concrete actions were more important than agreements on paper. The U.S. delegation did not respond to four official requests for comment by The Associated Press on Wednesday. No progress was reported on another U.N. goal: a pledge to reduce by at least half the 2.4 billion people without access to proper sanitation by 2015. European Union officials said they couldn't understand the U.S. opposition. "It's important not only that people should be able to get drinking water but to be able to get rid of waste water," said Danish Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt. U.S. officials say they support the goal but don't think new deadlines are needed. The EU and the United States were working together, however, to highlight globalization's more positive elements in the final summit document, but were facing opposition not only from anti-globalization activists, but developing countries as well. "It's been a sticking point because there is a different perception (between wealthy and poor nations) ... on what globalization has meant," said Paolo Estivallet from the Brazilian delegation, which is representing developing countries in the negotiations. While past U.N. documents referred to globalization offering "opportunities and challenges," the United States and EU have proposed adding specific references to the benefits of free trade and open markets, diplomats said.

Those include the promotion of democracy and tolerance for cultural diversity, a senior EU official said. Developing countries were opposed to adding new language, Estivallet said. "We are in favor of cultural diversity, for instance, but to presume that globalization has promoted it would be simplistic," he said. "On the contrary, it would be quite the opposite," he added, referring to the deluge of Western products around the world. He said his group wanted to stick to past texts, which talk about how developing countries "face special difficulties" in responding to globalization and how policies should be directed at making sure it was "fully inclusive and equitable." John Ashe, chairman of the group working on the text, said he included the U.S.-EU proposals in his latest draft, but it would be up to the negotiators. The United Nations hopes to have agreement on the entire plan before world leaders arrive Monday. The 10-day summit, billed as the largest U.N. gathering ever, is also to focus on health, energy, agriculture and biodiversity issues. Schmidt, whose country represents the EU, hailed the agreement on marine life as "the first major breakthrough" at the summit. EU officials said the words "where possible" were added because in some cases it was too late to save severely depleted species and in others, not enough was known about specific problems and how to solve them. The United Nations estimates three-quarters of the world's fisheries are either fished to their limits or beyond. Tuitoma Neroni Slade, chair of the Alliance of Small Island Nations, called the agreement "very satisfactory." Activists also were generally happy that the summit set a target date but expressed concern it was too far in the future to fully protect shark, tuna and swordfish. "The restoration of those stocks is going to be really, really tough," said Sian Pullen, oceans specialist for the World Wildlife Fund. "2015 will be too late." Outside the convention center, about 200 people protested peacefully, including Johannesburg street vendors decrying police harassment and farmers demanding access to global markets. The protesters marched about a mile to the fringe of the summit site, chanting and waving banners with messages that ranged from "Empower People, Not the U.N." to "People or Pandas." 


Government of Serbia
28 August 2002

Johannesburg, Aug. 28, 2002 - Serbian Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Andjelka Mihajlov yesterday presented Serbia's reform strategy at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg at a meeting entitled Economy, Natural Environment and Society, attracting great attention from both participants of the summit and the media.  Minister Mihajlov, who is also the head of the Yugoslav delegation, yesterday acted as moderator of the Environment and Development in Transition Economies project within the World Forum on Sustainable Development, Economy, Environment and Society. Other members of our delegation included Stojan Jevtic and Aleksandar Vasic.  Mihajlov also spoke at the plenary meeting of the World Summit in Johannesburg. She pointed to the importance of balancing the development of various sectors, intersectoral cooperation and understanding, and conditions for successful development policies.  At the invitation of the chairman of the EU, European Commission and member countries, Mihajlov and Assistant Minister of Labour, Health and Social Care Miroslav Nikcevic participated in a meeting of EU and Mediterranean countries to exchange views and reports on the status of negotiations at the Summit.  Part of the Yugoslav delegation was present at a expose of the views of the World Bank and presentation of a publication entitled Sustainable Development in the Dynamic World - Transformation of Institutions, Progress and Quality of Life. 


International Herald Tribune
28 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG: One hundred and thirty chief justices and senior judges urged environmentalists Tuesday to take miscreant corporations and backsliding governments to court to protect the earth's resources.  They called for bolstering the capacity of legal systems to make it easier for the public - particularly the poor, who are often the hardest-hit victims of environmental crimes - to gain access to the courts.  There was even a suggestion for the eventual creation of an international environment court, according to Pius Langa, deputy chief justice of South Africa. "The discussion is just starting," he said.  While delegates from 190 countries, the most ever to attend a UN meeting, continued to haggle over language at the World Summit on Sustainable Development here, the judges argued that there were already enough environmental laws and what was lacking was the will to implement them.  The question of public access to information, including legal information, is becoming a contentious issue at the conference. Many nongovernmental organizations and civic groups - who are meeting in a Global Forum several kilometers away from the main conference site - are asserting that the event has been hijacked by corporate interests and that the peoples' voice is not being heard.  In contrast to the remote Global Forum, an exhibition by the luxury carmaker BMW dominates a square just outside the main conference center of the summit meeting. Industry bosses lobby the summiteers from their headquarters in a nearby luxury hotel.  Sue Markham, a spokeswoman for the UN, said the organization welcomed participation from as many representatives of civil society as possible and that the only reason to exclude people was the 6,000-seat capacity of the conference center.  Nevertheless, frustration was building and the police were preparing for possibly violent protests by the militant Landless Peoples Movement when at least 104 heads of state and government arrive for the main part of the summit meeting this weekend.  Protests would be aimed at sending "a clear and unambiguous message to our leaders that ordinary people can no longer tolerate the current environmentally destructive practices," said Gordon Bispham one of the organizers of the Global Forum. "We can no longer tolerate the continued neglect of the poor by our political leaders. We are tired of broken promises."  The issue of access to information is analyzed in a new study by the World Resources Institute, a Washington environmental group, which found that in nine countries it studied, information about the environment was often kept secret or made public too late for people to influence large projects. As a result, communities often learn about new mining, drilling or tree-stripping operations when the bulldozers arrived.  Elena Petkova, lead author of the study, said that when citizens participated in decisions, the final outcome was invariably better. She said the findings held true for countries of very different levels of income and development.  Despite the U.S. refusal to participate in the International Criminal Court, a senior American judge, Clifford Wallace of the U.S. Court of Appeals, attended the meeting of senior judges here. The United States also helped finance the panel, which was organized by the United Nations Environment Program.  Klaus Toepfer, the program's director general, has long argued that the Johannesburg summit meeting should focus on implementing treaties and agreements that were struck at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago and in subsequent meetings.  The environment program's director for policy development and law, Bakary Kante, said a greater emphasis on applying treaties through national courts would offer opportunities for nongovernmental organizations that want to hold multinationals accountable for their environmental and human rights behavior.

On the question of a possible international environmental court, Kante said such a court could pose a conflict with the United Nations International Court in The Hague, which is authorized to hear environmental cases.  Arthur Chaskalson, the chief justice of South Africa who headed the meeting, said judges could play a key role in achieving sustainable development because most countries already had environmental laws, even if the will to apply them was lacking.  "The problem is a lack of awareness of these rights and particularly a lack of access to the law," Chaskalson said.  In a statement to the leaders attending the summit meeting, the judges said, "The fragile state of the global environment requires the judiciary, as the guardian of the rule of law, to boldly and fearlessly implement and enforce applicable international and national laws, which in the field of environment and sustainable development will assist in alleviating poverty and sustaining an enduring civilization."  Experts said it was becoming increasingly evident that efforts to crack down on pollution, challenge environmentally harmful practices and comply with international agreements on issues such as hazardous waste or the trade in endangered species were being undermined because of the weak legal systems in many countries.  "We have over 500 international and regional agreements, treaties and deals covering everything from the protection of the ozone layer to the conservation of the oceans and seas," Toepfer said. "Almost all, if not all, countries have national environmental laws, too. But unless they are complied with, unless they are enforced, then they are little more than symbols, tokens, paper tigers."  Meanwhile, the environment organization Greenpeace opened a dramatic photo exhibit on the environmental tragedy that beset the city of Bhopal after an explosion at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in 1984 caused the release of lethal gasses in the world's worst industrial disaster.  About 20,000 people died at the time, and the effects of the disaster are visible in the subsequent generation, Greenpeace said. The group said ground water in the region was still contaminated and the abandoned site littered with stockpiles of obsolete pesticides and toxic waste. 


The Earth Times
28 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG--One of the great things about a conference on sustainable development is that it celebrates the goal of accessing simple privileges such as breathing clean air, eating adequate amounts of food, and drinking clean water ? all attainable goals which do not require rocket scientists to figure out complicated formulae in order to find solutions.  Judging from the inaugural celebration of the opening of the Water Dome, one might have thought that rocket science was just what the Summit organizers had in mind when building the Dome, currently the largest free-standing structure in Africa. A complex, multi-leveled, mammoth-sized round structure with an immense indoor arena, two upper-level balconies circling the enormous space, and a soaring ceiling up above, the Water Dome is part of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) parallel event circuit, meant to educate visitors on the global problems surrounding water and sanitation through exhibits, workshops, arts and entertainment events, and press proceedings.  Wednesday night's opening ceremony got off to an exciting start, with the entire Dome's floorspace filled to capacity with delegates, mediapersons, and representatives from more than 70 public and private sector organizations all connected by similar concerns with water issues.  Invited as the keynote speaker to the Water Dome's opening ceremony, former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela addressed a packed arena, all eager to catch a glimpse of the man whom most South Africans beatify as the nation's leading activist against the apartheid regime, affectionately referring to him as "Madiba," Mandela's clan name.  "When I return to the rural villages of my youth, the poverty of the people and the degrading natural environment strike me quite powerfully," said Mandela. "But what strikes me most starkly is the image of those people without access to clean water, one of our most basic right as human beings."  In the midst of sparkling blue lights illuminating the arena, symbolizing the color of water, Mandela spoke charismatically on his convictions to make water more potable for his countrymen and for the world. "This official act of opening the Dome symbolizes the need to put water higher on the social and political agenda during the World Summit," he said. "We are here together under one roof inside the biggest free-standing structure in Africa ? I trust that members of this audience and of the world to monitor the progress of events pertaining to water after the Summit, and see it through all the way to next year's Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan."  Wednesday's inaugural ceremony marked the beginning of a week-long series of deliberations at the Water Dome, events that are sponsored by the African Water Task Force. Among the exhibits currently on display are the Friends of the Earth Middle East project aimed at creating bridges in the Arab-Israeli conflict through resolving water disputes. Combined with eye-catching exhibits, thought-provoking information sessions, and impressionable speakers, the Water Dome promises to be a Summit favorite for the remaining week of the UN event.  


28 August 2002

Three Government reports on sustainable development were released today, on the eve of a crucial gathering of world leaders in Johannesburg.  Prime Minister Helen Clark next week attends the World Summit on Sustainable Development, where delegates are now trying to hammer out world-bettering deals.  She will take at least two of the reports to the summit, as promised to organisers the United Nations.  New Zealand is one of 25 vice presidents at the summit, a lofty United Nations gathering with the loftier goal of improving the world economically, environmentally and socially.  The reports outlined Government progress over the past decade on sustainable development, its future plans, and which statistics should be gathered to measure progress.  Sustainable development centres on making economic progress, without negative impacts on people or the environment.

?  Towards Sustainable Development in New Zealand outlined how much progress New Zealand had made on sustainable development since the 1992 Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro.

?  The Government's Approach to Sustainable Development outlines the future New Zealand approach to sustainable development.

?  Monitoring Progress Towards a Sustainable New Zealand, released by Statistics New Zealand, is an experimental report looking at indicators that would help assess progress toward sustainable development. It is the first time such indicators have been released. 

New Zealand was last week accused of making little progress on the issue by Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.  "It doesn't seem to me that New Zealand will have anything to put on the table (in Johannesburg) at all," she said.  "The Government started off the last term with a number of speeches with a commitment to sustainability, but I can't see anything that has come out of it."  In June, the Government put on hold plans to develop a sustainable development strategy before Johannesburg, the 2002 version of Rio.  Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said the deferral was because "consultation was going to be extremely rushed".  The statistics report contained some figures to support her view, while the other two reports were wide-ranging and generally positive in tone.  Statistics NZ said the little spotted kiwi, widespread before human occupation, was now restricted to a few offshore islands and mainland reserves.  Indigenous forest had been much reduced in that time, while seizures of unwanted pests from aircraft and aircraft passengers had increased steadily since 1995.  Total greenhouse gas emissions increased by 5 percent between 1990 and 2000, the statistics report said.  The Government was committed to ensuring New Zealand was at the forefront of international efforts to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, Miss Clark said.  It had ended the logging of state-owned indigenous forests and opted to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "The World Summit on Sustainable Development will help show us where New Zealand stands compared to other countries," she said.  "After the summit we will review whether there are new issues which New Zealand needs to address." Public consultation would be part of that process.  Towards Sustainable Development in New Zealand pointed to increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the 90s, but said overall air pollution was low, except for in some low-lying urban areas, and some transport corridors. Some agricultural areas faced increased risk of surface water enrichment, degradation of riparian margins, nitrate contamination of groundwater, and contamination by pathogens.  "Long-term trends of dramatic biodiversity loss continued, despite the conservation achievements of the last 25 years," the report said. "Invasive pests and weeds pose the greatest single threat to our remaining native species and ecosystems." In a report released this month, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Morgan Williams said New Zealand governments had "largely ignored" promises made at Rio.  Even the Government's February innovation statement gave priority to economic growth over environmental and social values, he said.


Government of Serbia
28 August 2002

Johannesburg, Belgrade, Aug. 27, 2002 - A Serbian government delegation, joined by representatives of the Montenegrin and Yugoslav authorities, yesterday attended the formal opening of the world Summit on sustainable development held in the capital of the South African Republic, Johannesburg.  We must fight against ourselves in order to save the planet for our children, South African President Thabo Mbeki said at the opening ceremony. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic delivered a similar message in the written documents prepared for the delegation's participation in the meeting. Both call for a peaceful and sustainable future for children.  During the first day, plenary meetings focused on health care, sustainable development, biodiversity and ecosystems.  The Yugoslav delegation is made up of delegation head Serbian Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Andjelka Mihajlov, Stojan Jevtic, Aleksandar Vesic, Miroslav Nikcevic and Goran Gvozdenovic, Ambassador Srdjan Hofmann, Toplica Djordjevic, Andrijan Tasic, Young Researchers representative Aleksandar Petrovic and representatives of local self-government of the town of Nis.  On the first day of the summit, the delegation attended a meeting organised by the UN Economic Commission for Europe, which highlighted democracy and policy as basic means for connecting human rights and sustainable development. The delegation presented the reform goals of the Serbian government, laying special emphasis on the right to a healthy environment, which in turn contributes to sustainable economic development. Today, on the second working day of the summit, Minister Mihajlov will act as moderator of the Environment and Development in Transition Economies project within the World Forum on Sustainable Development, Economy, Environment and Society. Reforms carried out by the Serbian government will be discussed in another two meetings. Other members of the delegation will simultaneously cover the plenary meetings on agriculture and sustainable development, so that they could all attend a plenary meeting on finance, trade, technology transfer and consumption patterns later in the conference.  Mihajlov held a bilateral meeting with Fritz Schlingerman, director of UNEP for Europe, and discussed further cooperation and potential sources of financing for projects already underway.  Delegates at the Summit expressed pessimism when it comes to progress in reaching an agreement on environmental conservation and relieving poverty. During the summit, another quarter of the final document, which includes a position on globalisation as well as a decision regarding to what extent countries should pursue the agreed ends, remains to be worked out. Several thousand people have already demonstrated against globalisation in Johannesburg.  The first week of the summit is dedicated to the Head Committee talks on overcoming existing disputes over the issues contained in the documents. At the same time, plenary sessions on biodiversity, agriculture, water and sanitation, energy, and regional implementation are being held. From Aug. 29, representatives of various international organisations, among which there are those that enable financing projects, will speak within the plenary section. More than 100 world leaders, ministers, and other high representatives, including Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, will speak at the General session, which begins on Sept. 2. Within this part of the summit, a roundtable entitled Let us Make the Future Happen be held.  The poster that had been chosen in a public contest organised by the Yugoslav Ministry of Natural Resources was selected for the Summit board among the 14 best child placards in the world. Delegates at the Summit have said that the drawings by children from the Timocki Partizani elementary school from Knjazevac as one of the most optimistic visions of the earth's future.


Environment News Service
27 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, August 27, 2002 - An action plan to strengthen the development, use and enforcement of environmentally related laws has been drawn up by over 100 of the world's most senior judges at the World Summit for Sustainable Development. The move signals a new era featuring improved capacity of judges, prosecutors, and legislators as well as greater public participation in environmental decision-making.  The Johannesburg Principles on the Role of Law and Sustainable Development, drafted last week by the Global Judges Symposium, were kept confidential until today so they could be delivered first to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, which organized the symposium.  "Our declaration and proposed program of work are, I believe, a crucial development in the quest to deliver development that respects people and that respects the planet for current and future generations and for all living things," said Justice Arthur Chaskalson, Chief Justice of South Africa, who co-hosted the symposium.  Participating judges included Judge J. Clifford Wallace, a senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Justice Charles Gonthier, Supreme Court of Canada; three justices from the Supreme Court of China; and the chief justices of India, of Indonesia, Colombia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Romania, and of Russia among dozens of other distinguished jurists.  The justices recognized that the poor people and the poor nations of the world suffer most from environmental degradation, and they placed a greater responsibility on the most powerful nations of the world to protect the global environment.  "There is an urgent need," the justices declared, "to strengthen the capacity of the poor and their representatives to defend environmental rights, so as to ensure that the weaker sections of society are not prejudiced by environmental degradation and are enabled to enjoy their right to live in a social and physical environment that respects and promotes their dignity."   The justices affirmed their "commitment" to the pledge made by world leaders in the Millennium Declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2000 "to spare no effort to free all of humanity, and above all our children and grandchildren, from the threat of living on a planet irredeemably spoilt by human activities, and whose resources would no longer be sufficient for their needs."  They expressed their "firm conviction" that the framework of international and national law that has evolved since the United Nations Conference on Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, the forerunner of the current summit, provides "a sound basis for addressing the major environmental threats of the day, including armed conflict and attacks on innocent civilians."  "We recall the principles adopted in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and affirm adherence to these principles which lay down the basic principles of sustainable development," the justices declared.  They affirmed the importance of an independent judiciary and judicial process, and emphasized the importance of the peaceful resolution of conflicts "to avoid situations in which weapons of war degrade the environment and cause irreparable harm directly through toxic agents, radiation, landmines and physical destruction and indirectly destroy agriculture and create vast displacement of people."  UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer called the field of law "the poor relation in the worldwide effort to deliver a cleaner, healthier and ultimately fairer world."  "We have over 500 international and regional agreements, treaties and deals covering everything from the protection of the ozone layer to the conservation of the oceans and seas," Toepfer said. "Almost all, if not all, countries have national environmental laws too. But unless these are complied with, unless they are enforced, then they are little more than symbols, tokens, paper tigers."  The justices are convinced that deficiency in the knowledge, relevant skills and information in regard to environmental law is "one of the principal causes that contribute to the lack of effective implementation, development and enforcement of environmental law." The goal of their plan of action is to address these deficiencies.  The action plan aims to equip judges, prosecutors, legislators and others, with the necessary skills, information and materials, through the strengthening of environmental law education in schools and universities, including research and analysis as essential to realizing sustainable development, the justices said.  There must be improvement in the level of public participation in environmental decision-making, the justices said, as well as access to justice for the settlement of environmental disputes and the defense and enforcement of environmental rights, and public access to relevant information.  Strengthening of collaboration and exchange of information on sub-regional, regional and global levels should take place, the justices said, and called for strengthening of the capacity of organizations and initiatives, including the media, to enable a well informed public to participate more in making and enforcing environmental laws. There should be an Ad Hoc Committee of Judges consisting of judges representing geographical regions, legal systems and international courts and tribunals and headed by the Chief Justice of South Africa, that will keep under review and publicize the emerging environmental jurisprudence, the justices recommended. UNEP and its partner agencies, including civil society organizations, should provide support to the Ad Hoc Committee of Judges, and finally, the justices called upon governments of the developed countries, the donor community, and international financial institutions, to finance the implementation of these principles and the program of work on a high priority basis.  


27 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) - An agreement to try and protect diminishing stocks of fish in the world's oceans buoyed the spirits of delegates as they entered the third day of Earth Summit negotiations in Johannesburg on Wednesday. But some environmentalists are questioning whether the deal can be enforced against pirate trawlers, while core disputes between rich and poor states over aid and trade were set to grind on throughout the 10-day meeting in South Africa. The draft agreement to replenish overfished waters by 2015 was a first sign of movement on concrete targets at the summit where some 200 countries hope to put together an action plan to reduce world poverty while preserving the environment. On other crunch issues such as how to bring clean energy and water to the billions of poor who have none, countries remained starkly divided, with poorer countries accusing the rich north of failing to live up to past promises. "We're not pretending things agreed at the summit are the be all and end all but it's the first time there has been a date on fishing stocks," said a British delegation official. "We think it's a very welcome advance." Environmentalists, who have knocked the summit for setting low or non-existent targets, welcomed the fisheries plan secured in preparatory talks at the weekend. "It's pleasing that they have reached agreement on oceans," said Sian Pullen of WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund. "We would have liked it to be more progressive but it's good compared to some of the other issues which may be going backwards."


However, she added: "It does recognize the need for enforcement but it doesn't say how it's going to be done. It's a major issue and not one that's been adequately addressed." Under the new agreement, governments will aim to restore fish stocks to a sustainable level by 2015 at the latest, which could require temporary fishing bans. Governments will also consider setting up permanent non-fishing zones to preserve breeding grounds. According to the United Nations, more than 70 percent of the world's commercially important fish stocks are over-exploited or heading that way. Curbing the over-exploitation of natural resources which, if managed properly, could enrich generations way into the future, is one of the main challenges of "sustainable development." Like the rest of the action plan that heads of state and government are due to agree when they fly in for the summit finale next week, the fisheries agreement is not legally binding. But environmentalists hope it will form a moral basis for action and keep governments under pressure from the public. In other areas, little progress had been made so far, with the United States resisting calls from European and developing countries to set targets and deadlines not already agreed at previous summits on development and the environment. Wednesday's keynote talks will include discussions on ways to provide clean water and sanitation for billions who lack them and on using energy, such as solar power, that does not pollute the environment or endanger health. Amid threats of protest action, South African police are keeping a tight grip around the summit in the plush suburb of Sandton, which lies close to some of Johannesburg's worst slums.  


Independent Online
27 August 2002

The "savage principle" of the survival of the fittest should no longer rule society, summit delegates were told. This theme, introduced by South African President Thabo Mbeki, was reinforced by several prominent figures on Monday. Mbeki said: "There is every need for us to demonstrate to the billions of people we lead that we are committed to the vision and practice of human solidarity, that we do not accept that human society should be constructed on the basis of a savage principle of the survival of the fittest." Human society, for the first time in history, possessed the capacity and knowledge to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment, said Mbeki, who was elected president of the WSSD.  The summit will explore ways of reaching a range of objectives adopted at the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago.

United Nations Environment Programme head Klaus Toepfer echoed Mbeki's call, and said that the summit was a "defining moment" in the efforts to put the planet on a sustainable path for the future. Mbeki said it was sad that the world had made little progress in realising the grand vision of the Rio summit. "It is no secret that the global community has, as yet, not demonstrated the will to implement the decisions it had freely adopted," he said. WSSD secretary-general Nitin Desai said the same international solidarity that had helped to end apartheid was needed to address the global divide between rich and poor. But not all developed countries appeared to be ready to be pinned down to targets in terms of time frames. Japan made it clear it would resist any attempt to attach a date to the target set for aid from developed countries at the Rio summit. Deputy director of multi-lateral co-operation Yutaka Ishikawa told reporters his country was already extending a fifth of the world's total overseas development aid, or about $10-billion (R100-billion). At the Global People's Forum, a non-governmental organisation event running parallel to the WSSD, chairperson Richman Gordon said poverty should be a priority at the summit. A World Bank report released at a news conference at the summit said: "A major transformation starting in the rich world will be needed to de-couple growth and environmental impacts, and radically change the composition of the world's output toward high input efficiency and environmental responsibility." Subsidies, mispricing and inadequate taxation of environmentally damaging products should not be allowed to continue to provide the wrong incentives for rich-world consumers and producers, the report says.  World Bank vice-president Ian Johnson said: "Getting growth in Africa means developing agriculture."   The inefficient agricultural subsidies in the North presented a major obstacle in this regard. The bank would use "moral persuasion" to ensure the redress. - Sapa 


The Asahi Shimbun
27 August 2002

``Junen hitomukashi'' is the Japanese equivalent of ``10 years is an epoch.'' This expression is commonly used to imply that a lot of things change in 10 years. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) began Monday in Johannesburg. What changes have there been in the last 10 years since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro? One decade ago, then U.S. President George Bush Sr. was preparing for the upcoming presidential election. It took him a while to make up his mind to attend the Rio summit. That was the year after the Persian Gulf War. His son, George W. Bush, is sitting out the Johannesburg summit. I wonder if he went through a period of indecision like his father. Ten years ago, there was already a movement to denounce multinational corporations as ``the main agents of environmental destruction,'' but it was not until much later that this evolved into the current anti-globalization movement. This movement has escalated since the 1999 World Trade Organization Cabinet ministers' meeting in Seattle. I wonder what its impact will be on the Johannesburg summit. In the Rio summit, corporate representatives kept a low profile. The principal participants were government officials and representatives from nongovernmental organizations. In Johannesburg, corporate representatives are sharing the center stage with government and NGO delegates. Some NGOs are chary about this, but one of the summit themes happens to be collaboration among the three sectors. In the last 10 years, what world-scale changes have occurred in the environment and the conditions of natural resources and sanitation? Tropical forests have been receding every year by areas roughly equivalent to four times the size of Switzerland. Supplies of drinking water have been dwindling, fisheries resources depleting drastically, and AIDS death tolls are skyrocketing. The Earth's average temperature is on the rise, and flood and drought damage has become conspicuous in recent years. The picture certainly does not warrant optimism. Summit host South Africa has undergone cataclysmic changes over the last decade. The white domination is now history. How will the world rate the Johannesburg summit 10 years from now? I just hope it will go down in history as the start of a less pessimistic epoch.


The Earth Times
26 August 2002

JOHANNESBURG--Health is at the heart of sustainable development and the eradication of poverty will not be possible in the absence of better all-round health. That was the message delivered by David Nabarro, Director for Sustainable Development, Health and Environment, World Health Organization (WHO), at the second plenary meeting Monday morning at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The theme of the meeting was "Health and the Environment," which was followed by an interactive discussion, moderated by Jan Pronk, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General.  Dr. Nabarro also linked health with greater productivity in his presentation. "If we spend an additional $30 billion a year on health, it will result in a six-fold increase in productivity and a saving of eight million lives every year," he said.  Some people had been criticizing the Johannesburg conference, by saying that it would all be talk and very little achievement, he said, but there was already a great deal of understanding that people's health was central to development and poverty reduction. "There is also a greater sense of urgency on health issues, on diseases like HIV Aids, malaria and tuberculosis. We have set a target of reducing poverty by half by 2015, which can only be done by improving the health of the poor."  Referring to the acronym being used by the UN Secretary General for this conference, WEHAB (water, energy, health, agriculture and bio-diversity), he explained that good health meant access to safe water, access to energy, access to agricultural production and access to a healthier environment. "A third of all illnesses are due to a poor environment."  The health systems to be set up must also be attuned to the health needs of the people, especially the poor people, Dr Nabarro added. "We must take forward inter-sector actions. All government departments must contribute to health. We also need new and broader alliances, along with targets and time-tables and the transfer of technologies."  But, above all, better health needed cash ? without significant additional resources, the poor would not enjoy the health they needed, he said. "We have the road maps, so there is nothing to stop us from putting health at the heart of sustainable development."  When queried by Pronk on the lessons the World Bank had learned over the last decade, Robert Hecht, Manager of Health at the World Bank, admitted that environmental health issues "tended to fall between the cracks" and argued that more inter-sector cooperation was called for. "The health sector needs to work together with the energy sector to reduce air pollution, for instance."  Secondly, he said, there was an urgent need to tackle new and emerging health hazards, of which AIDS was the most obvious. "But there is also the epidemic of tobacco and smoking, which will cause enormous damage in ten to 15 years time, especially to developing countries." Finally, more money was needed in the health area, he added. "But to make money work, you need sound policies."  Vanessa Tobin, Chief, Water, Environment and Sanitation Section, Unicef, pointed out that over 10 million children were dying every year and that the cost of just a few dollars per child for immunization would prevent enormous suffering. "We also must bear in mind that without good health, children cannot get the most out of education."  Kunio Waki, Deputy Executive Director, UNFPA, said he regretted that in Dr. Nabarro's presentation, no mention had been made of reproductive health issues, nor of population dynamics. "There is also the gender issue, the empowerment of women and the fact that maternal mortality rates remain very high ? I feel that all this needs greater focus here."  Angela Mathee, Senior Specialist Scientist at the South African Medical Research Council said that the contribution of indigenous medicines must also be taken into account when talking about health and poverty eradication.

25 August 2002

Pope John Paul II has urged delegates to the World Summit on Sustainable Development to pursue environmentally and socially friendly development. In comments to tourists and the faithful at his summer residence southeast of Rome, the pope said God had put humans on Earth to be his administrators of the land, "to cultivate it and take care of it". In a world ever more interdependent, peace, justice and the safekeeping of creation cannot but be the fruit of a joint commitment of all in pursuing the common good," John Paul said. The 82-year-old pope appeared in fine form, speaking strongly and clearly and bantering in Polish with the crowd for a good 10 minutes in the middle of his prepared remarks.  He returned from a four-day visit to his beloved Poland on Monday, and off-the cuff comments were directed to a group of Polish pilgrims in the crowd, who delighted in the extra attention. He told them he would make a "spiritual" pilgrimage back to Poland tomorrow to celebrate a day of prayer at a popular shrine in the southern city of Czestochowa. At one point, when the crowd had trailed off in singing a favourite Polish religious song, John Paul stated it up again himself, tapping his hand in tune on the arm of his white chair.

The thrust of his comments, though, were directed to the WSSD, which opens tomorrow in Johannesburg, as a follow-up meeting to the Earth Summit held 10 years ago in Brazil. Few of the Earth Summit goals to curb global warming, species extinction and a host of environmental woes have been met - a point underscored by the pontiff in his message to the meeting. "We hope that the numerous heads of state present, and the other participants, are able to find efficient ways for an integral human development, which takes into account the economic, social and environmental dimensions," the pontiff said. He said man's "ecological vocation" to care for the Earth has become "ever more urgent in our time".


 Danish Presidency of the EU
21 August 2002

The Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg will attract a record number of Head of State or Government. However, in addition, a number of non-governmental organisations, the so-called NGOs, will also try to exercise their influence. Some NGOs have many members, many resources and find it easy to make their voices heard both prior to and during the Summit. For other weaker NGOs, the preparations for a Summit of the Johannesburg order of magnitude constitute an almost insurmountable challenge. Therefore, a number of Danish development and environmental organisations, united in the so-called 92 Group, established in connection with the Rio Conference in 1992, have worked intensely together in the course of the past year to strengthen NGOs in the southern hemisphere.  "When dealing with the issue of sustainable development, it is important to include the civil society, and therefore it is important that NGOs receive help for building knowledge and networks, so that their voices may be heard before, during and after the Johannesburg Summit," says Hans Peter Dejgaard, who is employed as co-ordinator for the NGO effort by the organisations Ibis, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (MS) and the Danish chapter of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).  "At the conference in Rio ten years ago, a number of grand-looking agreements were concluded on sustainable development, but many problems still remains with the actual implementation of these agreements. One of the decisive reasons for this crisis is that governments around the world have not been good enough at involving the civil societies at the local level. There is a need for giving popular organisations access to information and including them in the decision-making processes. This is a key demand at the Johannesburg Summit."  In 2001, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted DKK 16 million for capacity building within NGOs from twenty-five countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. Since then, Hans Peter Dejgaard and the NGOs of the twenty-five countries have been busy.  "The overall purpose has been supporting the civil societies of the South, in order to enable them to exert more pressure on their own governments and the international community to address the problems they experience at close range. We have helped the civil societies strengthen national and regional NGO networks, so as to maximise their influence and at the same time cause them to feel more responsibility for the decisions that are made. It is no use that only strong NGOs from the North turn up at summits and try to promote the cause of countries of the South. There is a need for initiating a political process in the individual developing countries," says Hans Peter Dejgaard.  The political process has indeed been set in motion. National and regional co-ordinators of the supported NGO effort regularly exchange reports on their activities through mailing lists and an international website. As recognition of this preparatory work, the NGOs of a number of developing countries have been invited to join the official delegation representing their country at the Summit. In Mozambique, the effort has for instance been manifested in the first-ever united national network of NGOs and popular organisations, which join forces to prepare for the Summit. This civil society network has assembled a delegation counting sixty members, which is determined to make their influence felt at the Summit. However, also after the Summit, the network of Mozambique and other national networks established will be serving an important function.

"Regardless of the outcome of the Johannesburg Summit, the preparations have already yielded positive results. The networks that have been established have accumulated so much knowledge and experience by working politically at the national and international level that in future they will be able to play the role of important partners and counterparts for national governments," says Hans Peter Dejgaard.





























BUSINESS DAY (SOUTH AFRICA),3524,49567262-0,00.html




Return to Johannesburg Summit portal