Stakeholders Write Wish Lists for Sustainablity Summit

NEW YORK, New York, February 1, 2002 (ENS) - To draw up a political statement and plan of action that will move the world towards sustainable development, delegates from around the world are meeting at the United Nations, clarifying their hopes and dreams for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development.

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Emil Salim of Indonesia is chairman of the Second Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Photos courtesy ENB Linkages)
Clean water, protection of oceans, forests, biodiversity, and human health, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development in drylands, food security - at the end of the first five days of deliberations at UN headquarters, each major group has outlined what its priorities are for the Summit.

The Summit, which is taking place August 26 through September 4 in Johannesburg, South Africa, marks the 10 year anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. There heads of state and government adopted Agenda 21 as a plan of action towards sustainable development.

Despite the promises made at the last Earth Summit and adoption of Agenda 21, little progress has been made towards protecting the environment and bringing about peaceful, sustainable development, many delegates said.

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Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization Godwin Obasi
Godwin Obasi, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, focused on global climate issues - the need to protect essential life support systems and access to freshwater and sanitation, as well as threats to coastal areas and small island nations from sea level rise. To limit the impact of natural disasters, he offered climate change impact assessments and the enhancement of monitoring efforts for advanced forecasting.

Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), called for a Johannesburg Summit with concrete action and implementation based on partnerships. UNEP could contribute assessment and early warning monitoring systems, technology transfer, health, environment and food security linkages, and trade related capacity building, Toepfer said. He proposed a network of renewable energy centers and close attention to environmental problems related to mining, crucial issues for many African countries.

Mohammed El-Ashry, who heads the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank Group's environmental funding agency, called for a Summit with concrete actions, and for partnerships and programs that can be scaled up and replicated. He said financing must be a central focus of the Johannesburg Summit, and pointed to the need to find innovative and practical means for funding sustainable development.

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Mark Moody-Stuart, heads Business Action for Sustainable Development
Mark Moody-Stuart, chairman of the organization Business Action for Sustainable Development, championed open, competitive, international markets that foster innovation and efficiency. Elimination of poverty will come from business development of energy and transportation, mining and natural resources, he said.

Speaking for the NGO Major Group, Martin Kohr of Third World Network said that on the positive side, Rio built the conceptual and political link between environment and development, and forged the basis of a new potential North-South "deal."

"Sustainable development" was born as a concept and a value which includes equity, rights of people to fulfil their needs in this and future generations, Kohr said.

On the negative side, he said, Rio did not have a program to regulate transnational corporations and companies which are the main source of environment problems. Kohr said the Rio Summit failed to address global development governance, and used an inadequate proxy - financial resources and technology transfer - as framework for policy. It did not have a clear implementation or compliance plan. It had a follow-up mechanism too weak for the task.

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Martin Khor of Third World Network
After 10 years the situation has deteriorated on both the environment and development fronts, Kohr said. There is more deforestation, more greenhouse gas emissions, greater threats to water supply, more resource exploitation. There is more absolute poverty, higher inequality, an increased threat of AIDS and other infectious diseases. Aid volume has fallen and technology transfer has not taken place to the degree necessary.

Most important, said Kohr, in the past 10 years the World Trade Organization and its rules came into being, thus institutionalizing "globalization." But while developing countries are pressured to free their markets with devastating results to small industries and farms, rich countries continue to control their markets through tariffs, subsidies and protection of intellectual property rights, he said.

The position of the Indigenous Major Group was presented by Tom Goldtooth of the International Indian Treaty Council and director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, USA. Speaking "in respect of the sacredness of our Mother Earth," Goldtooth affirmed "the principle of indigenous peoples' right of self-determination."

"Western forms of development have not been sustainable," said Goldtooth. Instead, they "have been a disruption to our cultural practices, environmental degradation of traditional lands, biodiversity and the bodies of our mothers and families." Western development creates poverty and fosters "dependency on developmental and financial systems that don't recognize indigenous traditional knowledge and values," he said.

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Indigenous leaders Victoria Tauli Corpuz and Tom Goldtooth
As part of the indigenous peoples' presentation, Victoria Tauli Corpuz of Tetebba, Philippines said that a significant number of indigenous peoples "still live in sustainable societies, historically evolved in diverse ecosystems."

But since colonization up to the present, said Corpuz, these diverse societies, ecosystems, cultures and peoples are under serious threats of destruction and extinction due to globalization. "The loss of our lands, waters, forests, natural resources, cultures and knowledge has accelerated because of the liberalization of trade and investment laws, the privatization of public goods and services such as water, energy, and the absence of laws which protect our rights as indigenous peoples."

Speaking at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil today, Greenpeace International Executive Director Gerd Leipold accused the governments of industrialized nations of conducting a war against the planet.

“We face a global menace just as deadly as any war,” said Leipold. “It is a war against the planet itself. We must end this war, to make peace with the planet, and make peace with one another.

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Greenpeace International Executive Director Gerd Leipold stands in front of a banner hung by Greenpeace activists today on an old chimney in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The banner shows a “President Bush temperature thermometer” with the bulb of the thermometer as the Earth on fire. (Photo courtesy Greenpeace)
“Under the banner of ‘economic growth’ we have seen a decade of broken promises and gross environmental abuse,” said Leipold. “Millions live in poverty while 20 percent of the population consume 80 percent of the resources and make 80 percent of the pollution.

He introduced a Greenpeace campaign to ensure that the World Summit on Sustainable Development lays down a path to an environmentally sustainable, peaceful future.

“To achieve this peace we need security based on a willing interdependence between individuals, cultures, communities and states. We need to make our industries ecologically intelligent, we need to make the economic system fairer, and we need new forms of security,” Leipold said.

At Porto Alegre, Greenpeace launched a website which will track the journey from the Rio Earth Summit to the Johannesburg Earth Summit, showing examples of where governments have failed to meet the commitments they made 10 years ago. It is online at: http://www.greenpeace.org/politics/EarthSummit

At UN Headquarters, meetings of the Second Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development continue through February 8.