Eco group of NGOs calls on the European Union to take responsibility for turning the Johannesburg Summit around
Johannesburg, South Africa - The Johannesburg Earth Summit
can still be a success for poor people and the environment, though pessimism and disillusion hover over its opening. The ECO-Equity coalition of NGOs (ANPED, Consumers International, Danish 92 Group, Greenpeace, Oxfam International, Friends of the Earth, WWF) says that it is much too soon to write the Johannesburg Earth summit off.
Concrete results are possible - and there's no question that they're crucial. Floods in Europe and China, food crisis in southern Africa, droughts in the United States, and the "brown cloud" over much of Asia
are timely reminders that natural and man-made disasters can be hugely exacerbated by the failure of policy-makers driven by the commercial interests of the rich world.
The Eco group believes that the European Union should put its money and energy where its mouth is. If it would only live up to its rhetoric on poverty and the environment and put its collective energies into building a coalition of brave and visionary countries, Johannesburg can be made more than a pre-ordained "disaster". However, any coalition that delivers success at the Summit must recognise and address the real downsides of economic globalisation.
With EU leadership, there's a long list of potential partner countries - beginning with Brazil, Japan, Indonesia and South Africa - and the potential results cover a range of crucial issues including renewable energy, cross-border river management, poverty eradication, sustainable consumption and making the corporate world take responsibility for its actions.
What genuine achievements could such a coalition help bring about?
• The US can be pressured to live up to its obligations as the world's richest nation (and the greatest polluter) and help bring about real progress at this summit.
• The EU has promised to fight for an agreement for co-operative management of international rivers to promote peace and security and adequate and clean water for people and nature. They must ensure that these concepts and the tools to implement them are in the final agreement from Johannesburg.
• Brazil can resist the pressure to water down its progressive renewable energy initiative - and other countries must step up and support it.
• All rich countries must look to the spectre of the 13 million people facing disaster just a few hundred kilometres away from Johannesburg. They can agree to eliminate the absurd subsidies and export dumping that denies long-term development opportunities for previously self-sufficient peoples in southern Africa.
• Bold developing country blocs could achieve agreement on the part of rich countries to rectify the imbalances of the current trade regime which negatively affect people and the environment.
• The US and EU can help the world's poorest two billion and relieve the unsustainable pressure on the environment if they agree to cooperate to reverse the long-term decline in price of primary commodities.
• The EU can stop blocking an international framework for corporate accountability and ensure that Johannesburg is the place where negotiations for global rules for business were finally started.
The coalition believes that South Africa, as host, has a special role. We look to it to lead by example in seeking results that are good for the whole planet - and to help other vulnerable countries resist the pressures of rich power blocs to form narrow alliances based on self-interest.
These results are attainable. They need leadership, hard work and a collective decision by just a few countries to put selfish interest on the back shelf and reinvigorate the multi-lateral system. The
poor and disadvantaged people of the world and our battered environment have high hopes for this event - we must not let them down.
The agenda at Joburg is complex, the economic and political vested interests make them so, but the answers are starkly simple.
Signed Johannesburg, 26 August 2002:
, Danish 92 Group
, Friends of the Earth
, Oxfam International
, Northern Alliance for Sustainability
For further information contact:
Consumers International: Anped Pieter van der Gaag +31 6 229 34769; Irina Danada +44 7974 922 703
Danish 92 Group: John Nordbo +27 (0)72 301 0869
Friends of the Earth International: Niccolo Sarno +27 (0)72 4015387
Greenpeace: Susan Cavanagh +27 (0)82 858 8407
Oxfam International: Alex Renton +27 (0) 82 858 1517
WWF: Kyla Evans +27 (0)82 858 8464