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World "Earth" Summit - Success or Failure?


9 September 2002 at 1:09 pm
Staff Reporter
Many Non Government Organisations around the world are declaring the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, or the Earth Summit as a failure. Leading the charge is environmental group, Friends of the Earth.

Staff Reporter | 9 September 2002 at 1:09 pm


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World "Earth" Summit - Success or Failure?
9 September 2002 at 1:09 pm

Many Non Government Organisations around the world are declaring the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, or the Earth Summit as a failure. Leading the charge is environmental group, Friends of the Earth.

Daniel Mittler, Friends of the Earth International’s Summit Co-ordinator, says the Earth Summit broke up after publication of a notably feeble Political Declaration, watered down from the original draft after continued obstruction from the US and a minority of other countries.

Mittler says the Declaration was yet another betrayal of the millions of poor and vulnerable people around the world who looked to the Summit for real action on debt, climate change, deforestation, water and many other vital issues.

He says the Political Declaration could have been an opportunity to compensate for the lack of specific targets and timetables in the Plan of Implementation.

Mittler says it is particularly deplorable that the Declaration makes no mention of the need to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The declaration also contains weakened language on corporate accountability.

He says what a tragic ‘missed’ opportunity this Summit has been – thanks to the utterly obstructive tactics of the US and the free market ideology of the corporations that pull political strings in the background.

He says the Declaration’s welcome statement about the importance of multilateral agreements and action lacks credibility given the politics of this Summit. Above all, the US demands international support whenever it feels the need, but refuses international co-operation whenever it chooses. This is not diplomacy. It is the crude and counterproductive application of power.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) expressed disappointment in the overall outcomes incorporated in the WSSD Plan of Action despite accepting that
some advances had been made by negotiators.

Jonathan Lash, WRI president says over-all we must ask, will the poor be better off ten years from now? Will our world be safer or more secure from global environmental threats ten years from now.

Unfortunately, he says there are too many gaps and too few teeth in the WSSD Plan of Action.

The WRI delegation was particularly disappointed over the governments’ failure to set targets for increases in renewable energy like solar or wind. The United States and other oil producing countries have resisted setting targets for renewable energy, while European countries and some
developing countries like Brazil and the Philippines lobbied hard for such targets.

WRI says while the Plan of Action contains language on actions to help solve climate change, it is silent on the need for all countries to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. This treaty is needed to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that was adopted by the 1992
Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The United States has lobbied hard against it.

Lash says we have missed an opportunity to increase energy production from non-polluting sources like solar, biomass, and wind, and to provide the many companies taking action to reduce emissions with a secure framework for their actions.”

WRI however welcomed many of the targets adopted by the WSSD, especially on water, sanitation, and biodiversity. The WSSD Plan of Action calls for halving the number of people without access to proper sanitation by 2015; restoring depleted fish stocks by 2015; and significantly reducing the extinction rate of the world’s plants and animals by 2010.

WRI says this Summit will be remembered not for the treaties, the commitments, or the declarations it produced, but for the first stirrings of a new way of governing the global commons — the beginnings of a shift from
the stiff formal waltz of traditional diplomacy to the jazzier dance of improvisational solution-oriented partnerships that may include non-government organisations, willing governments and other stakeholders!



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