Unhappy NGOs at prelude to World Summit 2002-04-22
Monday, 29th April 2002 at 1:04 pm
Third meeting of the Preparatory Committee to the World Summit on sustainable Development was held in New York earlier this month and drew some sharp criticisms from NGO’s around the world with the focus on America and Australia!
Its aim was to discuss and to start negotiating the outcome of the second PreComm in January 2002, which included the results of national, regional and international preparatory conferences, and official working group deliberations.
The negotiations were run mostly on the basis of the so-called “Chairman’s Paper”, that received lots of critiques and comments from civil society.
As one NGO observer at the PrepComm III described it, the “usual suspects” such as the US or Australia, but also the OPEC countries, were blocking meaningful targets and timetables being inserted into the negotiating text for the Summit, which NGO believe must set clear social and environmental limits to globalisation.
Generally, it was perceived that two weeks of chaotic negotiations resulted in a long document, strong on platitudes but weak on substance. The EU and the majority of the G77 developing countries failed to show the necessary leadership in the face of US obstructions.
Several environmental organisations put out strongly worded statements about the meeting including this from Greenpeace.
“It’s clear that the US’s game plan is to systematically undermine the rest of the world’s attempts to reach agreements of global significance. We all know that environmental degradation, social inequity and war do not respect national boundaries: Only agreements between nations will give us any chance of holding back the tide”
And this from Friends of the Earth:
“The proposed partnerships are having a ‘chill effect’ on negotiating meaningful multilateral agreements rather than helping the necessary implementation. The Johannesburg summit will only be a success if governments agree an ambitious implementation program for which time is running out.”
Unhappy NGOs said the results, at the end of the first week, were simply compilations of all comments, turning the 20 pages of the original 20 page Chairman’s Paper into more than one hundred pages of brackets and bold inserts, stemming mostly from the EU and the USA.
Delegations as well as observers complained the compilations were unreadable and impossible to work with. Deliberations were delayed by separate meetings by the European Union as well as G77/ China.
In a parallel discussion delegations deliberated on partnerships – the so-called type-2, consisting of partnerships of the different sectors – governments, major groups, and business.
NGOs believe that governments were hiding their unacceptable negotiation results on the Chairman’s Paper by putting special effort into pursuing these partnership initiatives (especially with business) as a main result of the WSSD.
NGOs opposed this “privatisation of implementation” and insisted that UN processes must be about governments fulfilling their global responsibility.
The third PrepComm eventually ended without reaching its goal, and the closing plenary session decided to postpone further negotiations to Bali by beginning three days early.
The fourth meeting will start with internal discussions within the delegations, and continue with informal sessions for two days before the official PrepComm starts on May 27. In the meantime, the Chairman and the WSSD-Secretariat were advised to compile a new “clean” Chairman’s paper!